This program is a hidden gem in Portland, and I am so thankful I found it! Through this program, I have encountered more of authentic self and opened up more pathways to healing and transformation than I’d ever imagined existed.

Lanie is a first-rate trainer who clearly “knows her stuff.” She’s fun, compassionate and flexible, and has all the theory, knowledge and real-life experience as both an artist and a teacher one would hope for and expect in a program like this.  -Erin Libby

In the Spring of 2016 Bergin Learning Arts launched a 500-hour Embodied Expressive Arts professional training program in Portland, Oregon called “PDX EXA!”

Under the auspices of ISMETA The International Somatic Movement and Education Therapy Association, and following guidelines used by organizations all over the world, we are offering a program that will provide professional experience/credential and applicable skills for people who are diversifying their skills or making a career change. Somatic/movement-based Expressive Arts attracts people with varied backgrounds including education, healthcare, counseling and coaching.

Bergin Learning Arts – following the personal and professional experience and vision of founder Lanie Bergin – combines movement-focused education with the lessons and psychology of early childhood development. The PDX EXA! 500-hour training offers a unique combination of this approach with industry-standard professional expressive arts education.

Imagine the early years of learning being guided by an education system that encourages teachers to help children grow and express themselves through the expressive arts. Now imagine a program for yourself where you are the beneficiary of such an approach – learning by experiencing the joy of true self-expression  – and at the same time gaining skills applicable to your life and work.

Participants can expect a safe, secure and sometimes intense environment for personal, professional and dynamic group practice. Teaching and practicing Expressive Arts with others is a powerful experience – where diversity is at the center of change, communication and transformation. 

The PDX EXA! 500-hour training takes place within an organized structure. Participants will learn about movement-based expressive arts through their bodies –  physically, psychologically, and emotionally  – and they will apply their life experiences and personal mythology to this framework as they discover their particular path.

Each person, using their own history and experience as foundational resource, will discover unique and creative ways of expressing and transforming. This is the cornerstone of BLA’s “Exploring the Art of Learning.”

Program highlights

  • Personal Mining to develop the participants selfhood
  • Professional credentialing – Registered Somatic Therapist/Educator
  • Personal arts-based application of Anatomy and Kinesiology (blending theory and personal meaning)
  • Arts-based research skills (heuristic and qualitative)
  • Working with others: Witnessing, observing, reflexive skills, participation and collaboration
  • Professional Application: practice with in-depth supervision focusing on integrating the participant’s selfhood
  • Hands-on practice integrating interdisciplinary approaches to trauma and attachment theory

Pathway to Professional Credentialing


Our program maintains the high standards of an Approved Training Program of the International Somatic Movement Education and Therapy Association (ISMETA). Our graduates meet all requirements to become Registered Somatic Movement Educators and Therapists.

Upon completion of our 500-hour training program, graduates may apply to The International Somatic Movement and Education Therapy Association to become Registered Somatic Movement Therapists/Educators. Please note that ISMETA requires 150 professional hours within 2 years of graduation.

Benefits to becoming a Registered Somatic Practitioner, here.

How does this apply to personal/professional development?

Exploring the Art of Learning is dedicated to the aliveness and connection of people with a humanistic perspective and there is great emphasis placed on relationships and the lived experience presently and over time.

In this training while integrating the body-mind connection with the use of expressive arts modalities, you will develop skills that will help you to:

  • Utilize your understanding of how movement affects the dimensions of the mental, physical and emotional being.
  • Access material not easily accessible through conversation alone
  • Recognize, track, report and work creatively with projection systems (transference/countertransference) in respectful and experiential ways that enhance curiosity in relationships
  • Integrate: Use your unique gifts while working with the expressive arts modalities (visual art-making, movement, music, sound/voice, writing, drama)
  • Utilize expressive arts tools to access and transform personal mythologies of the self, others and the world

In this training while using the expressive arts modalities you will learn about:

  • Anatomy and kinesiology: Embodying the science and the art of movement, physically, emotionally, mentally and personally/collectively
  • Interpersonal research: Witnessing, observing, reflecting, participating and collaborating
  • Supervision: Focusing on awareness and integration of personal and collective mythology
  • Non-verbal skills: Tracking non-verbal communication physically, emotionally, mentally
  • Facilitation: Applying expressive arts methods to address safety, self-regulation and relationship skills
  • Discernment: Working with the interplay of seeing, hearing, listening, imagining
  • Accessing the unconscious: Using the body and the expressive arts toolkit to access unconscious material
  • The Art-Cycle: techniques using and working with the multiple modalities in Expressive Arts.
  • Integrated interdisciplinary approaches: Using trauma and attachment theory

Theory, scholarly research and praxis

Theoretical work is studied experientially, working with collective and personal ideas and experiences in order to learn how we may invite others to consider the possible value of embodied education.

  • Nueroscience models and how relationships, the mind/brain and body interact
  • Attachment
  • Trauma
  • Early developmental processes
  • Phenomena/Spirituality
  • Subconscious Mind

Learning Environment

  1. Praxis
  2. Peer learning — students work & learn together
  3. Small group work
  4. Independent work
  5. Demonstrations
  6. Videos
  7. Outside classroom –  study in the natural world with Guided Reflections in Nature (GRIN)
  8. Guest speakers – mastery level professionals from diverse backgrounds who’s work compliment the training curricula

Learning Evidence

  • Subject-Produced Portfolio – collection of artifacts, such as: drawings, journal writings, photos
  • Arts-based supervision project
  • Personal and professional case-study projects
  • EXA Labs – student collaboration; practice lessons in a structured environment
  • Group Webinars – students use this time together to assimilate, rearrange, and transform their learning process during these monthly check points.
  • Reading Assignments: A required and suggested reading list is available to students at the start of the program.

Training Logistics

*Enrollment is underway for the next series of training. You can apply to hold your place.

A professional training schedule created with working people in mind

The 500 hour program in Embodied Expressive Arts is divided into two levels:

  • Embodied Personal Development Level I
  • Embodied Professional Credentialing Level II


Level I – Certificate of Completion of the first 250 hours

Level I is a 9 month program that allows time to immerse oneself in self-exploration and collaboration.

This is the first and vital phase of discovery and manifestation. 


Level II – Somatic Arts Educator

Level II is also a 9 month program. Professional skills in the following areas prepare you to apply your gifts and knowledge to the professional credentialing process of ISMETA.

  • Create a Professional Case-Study
  • Apprenticeship
  • Supervision
  • Business Development/Ethics


Upon completion of the 500-hour program the ISMETA credentialing process begins.

“Somatic Movement Practitioners use knowledge of anatomy with combinations of movement, sound, breath, touch and imagery to deepen their clients’ understanding of themselves in movement. Somatic Movement Practitioners work with the body but acknowledge that movement affects the dimensions of psyche and spirit as well. As a result, their work facilitates improved vitality and performance, expanded creative expression and integrated personal transformation in clients’ daily lives.”

Sign-up for an Intro Workshop here.

Why Study with Lanie Bergin, M.Ed., RSMT/E

Fantastic program and leadership. I highly recommend Bergin Learning Arts, LLC and Lanie as a solid place to explore creativity. ~Rodrigo Xavier Caldera
Wherever you want to go creatively or emotionally Lanie with Bergin Learning Arts,will help you get there. ~Sue Ellen Liss, MS
Lanie’s expressive arts works profoundly at the deepest of levels to open you to your own innate healing process. The container Lanie creates for this process to unfold is safe, compassionate and inspiring. ~Mari Saint-Pierre

Class of 2016 comments and stories

I appreciate the thought, detail and clinical process put into facilitating this program, as I am a mental health clinician myself. I feel blessed that I am a part of this rewarding program and recommend it highly.

The personal mining experiences are providing me with such profound self insight in a safe, extremely fun and structured way.

I am learning about the heart, mind and physical body connection in a way that all other therapies I’ve committed to, didn’t even touch.

The personal mining and harvesting I did in my level one training at Bergin Learning Arts enabled me to answer the question I began with. The very first drawing I made, “Where do I fit in?” began a year long exploration of my personal mythology. Through somatic movement explorations, the art cycle, and harvesting and reflecting with my peers and course instructors, I have entered my level two work with a clear idea of where I fit in. This drawing – “Stepping In to the Future” – echoes my first drawing, but serves as an answer to the question. I can see how the many stepping stones in my life are converging in this work. The expressive arts have given me a container to hold all of my experiences, passions, interests and hopes, and is becoming a vehicle in which I am moving forward to the future. It is open wide, and holds many possibilities. I would never have been able to get to the point I am now – writing curriculum and designing my own Embodied Expressive Arts coursework – had I not taken the journey of PDX EXA level one.