Biography of Frances Sommer Anderson, Ph.D.

Dr. Sommer Anderson, a licensed psychologist (NY State 005532-1), holds a Certificate of Specialization in Psychoanalysis from the New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis. She is also a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner (SEP), certified by the Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute. She has expertise in treating people with medical conditions, physical disability, and trauma. She also consults with family members to help them cope with these conditions. Since 1979, she has specialized in treating back pain and other stress-related physical symptoms, using an approach that integrates contemporary psychoanalytic theory, research in the neuroscience of emotional and cognitive processing, and the neurobiology of attachment, trauma and pain.  She incorporates techniques from mindfulness meditation and body-based talking therapies for treatment of trauma.

Dr. Anderson has worked in the field of physical rehabilitation medicine since 1974, when she did an APA-approved clinical psychology internship at Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine-NYU Medical Center. After completing this internship, she joined the Psychology Staff at Rusk where she worked until 1987, when she left for full-time private practice and psychoanalytic training.

On the Psychology Staff at Rusk Institute—New York University Medical Center, Dr. Anderson first specialized in psychodiagnostic evaluation and treatment of children and adults with muscular dystrophy and conducted a groundbreaking research study on sexuality and neuromuscular disease, funded by the Muscular Dystrophy Association. In 1979, while still at Rusk, she began treating people with musculoskeletal back pain (Tension Myositis Syndrome, now known as Tension Myoneural Syndrome or TMS), working on the rehabilitation team led by attending physician, John Sarno, MD (Healing Back Pain 1991; The Mindbody Prescription 1998; The Divided Mind 2006). She continues to collaborate with Sarno in treating back pain, presenting a case study in Relational Perspectives on the Body, which she co-edited with Lewis Aron, published by The Analytic Press in 1998. The Italian edition of this book was published in 2004. In her chapter, she illustrates how overwhelming emotions that are difficult to experience can be linked to back pain and demonstrates her psychotherapeutic approach relieves the pain. Her interest in integrating mind and body in the treatment process is extended further in her role as Contributing Editor of Bodies in Treatment: The Unspoken Dimension, published in June 2007 by The Analytic Press/Taylor & Francis Group.  In her chapter, Dr. Sommer Anderson describes how she developed a TMS symptom that was related to early childhood emotional trauma.

In private practice, Dr. Sommer Anderson treats adults in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. She also supervises and trains psychotherapists, psychoanalysts, and other mental health workers, medical and rehabilitation personnel, and yoga teachers, focusing on the treatment of pain, acute and chronic medical conditions and physical disability, and trauma. She has taught two courses on the body in psychoanalytic theory and practice in the National Institute for the Psychotherapies Training Institute's (NIP TI) psychoanalytic training program and was a co-instructor, 2003-04, in the first NIP TI Trauma Program course, "Trauma: An Integrative Perspective.”  She extended her interest in the use of the analyst's bodily experience by developing a teaching and supervising technique, Sensing the Other, that enhances the analyst's awareness of the role of bodily experience in the therapist-patient relationship.  When teaching health care professionals about treating pain, she uses a technique, Experiencing the Pain Matrix, that she developed while studying the latest advances in the neuroscience of emotional and cognitive processing and the neurobiology of trauma and pain.

Dr. Anderson is a Faculty member at The National Institute for the Psychotherapies Training Institute. She has held teaching appointments as Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry (part-time), New York University Medical School; Psychologist, Bellevue Hospital Center; and Adjunct Clinical Supervisor, Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program, City College, CUNY.