Frequently Asked Questions
Select one of the questions below to find out it’s answer.
Select one of the questions below to find out it’s answer.
Body psychotherapy, also called body-oriented psychotherapy, is an approach to psychotherapy which applies basic principles of somatic psychology. There are numerous branches of body psychotherapy, often tracing their origins to particular individuals: for example, 'Bioenergetic analysis' to the work of Lowen and Pierrakos; Organismic Psychotherapy to the work of Malcolm and Katherine Brown; Biodynamic Psychology' to Gerda Boyesen, etc. Many of these contributors to body psychotherapy were influenced by the work of Wilhelm Reich, while adding and incorporating a variety of other influences. There exist however other branches like "post-Jungian" body psychotherapies (e.g. Arnold Mindell's process oriented psychology) or "dance-movement psychotherapies". The review of outcome research across different types of body-oriented psychotherapy concludes that the best evidence supports efficacy for treating somatoform/psychosomatic disorders and schizophrenia, while there is also support for ‘generally good effects on subjectively experienced depressive and anxiety symptoms, somatisation and social insecurity.
In many instances Body Psychotherapy may initially work like any other psychotherapeutic approach: you talk about your concerns and problems and the work develops from there. Depending on your established capacity to be aware of your internal world (the inner processes which constitute your self on a physical, emotional and mental level), there are many ways and techniques to pay attention to these interlinked processes and their correlations.
Body Psychotherapists have always made use of an eclectic range of humanistic techniques, many of them derived from other therapeutic approaches (e.g. there may be influences from Psychological sources (Psycho-analytical, psychodynamic, Object-relations theories, etc) but also from Physiotherapeutic sources (the use of hands-on work, massage, etc.) and other creative media (Gestalt dialogue, role play, visualisation and guided imagery, dreamwork and creative expression through drawing, moving etc.). The use of attending the body through "body awareness" can open up a whole neglected world of information, both for client and therapist. Body Psychotherapists rely on their senses as instruments in the therapeutic contact, and this can lead into important aspects of the client’s struggle. Body awareness can evolve quite naturally into bodywork which can involve posture, movement, breathing or a combination. This can mobilize powerful feelings and conflicts which people have often learned to repress and suppress over a lifetime and can now be re-evaluated, transformed, grounded and contained.
In many ways Body Psychotherapy is no different to other types of psychotherapy. Body Psychotherapists address whatever problems or issues the client brings to the session and helps him/her to understand him/herself and how to deal better with the life situations that trouble him/her. In addition to this, the client's growing self-knowledge helps him/her to develop as a person and to realize his/her potential. How Body psychotherapy differs to most other psychotherapy is in its focus on the body, life energy and its use of special techniques for working with the body. Body Psychotherapy works with body, mind and spirit as an integrated whole, helping the client to feel and know his/her body as ‘home’. The therapist's aim is to re-awaken a natural capacity for health, well-being and pleasure. Body Psychotherapy (with the inclusion of bodywork techniques) will enable the client to develop a direct experience of him/herself (e.g. the energetic flow of the life force in the body). This life energy, as it streams throughout the body, is felt as a bridge between psyche and soma (body and mind) and our connection to all life.
Body Psychotherapy, like any psychotherapy, is not only about feeling good in oneself. Life is difficult and very challenging and psychotherapy isn't doing its job if it's focus is simply on attaining a private heaven.
Body Psychotherapy helps the client ground in 'what is', to develop the capacity to fully embrace reality and to stay with feelings as they arise in the moment. We aim to help the client find a creative relationship to whatever life sends their way.
Body-psychotherapists acknowledge that bodywork can reach beyond people's usual mental control. Bodywork can be experienced as immensely soothing or, at times, may feel overwhelming. Postural Integration® and Energetic Integration® are methods that work with "deep bodywork" and are very aware of the possible effects and practitioners are therefore trained to be finely attuned to and understand the responses of the client and have the utmost respect for the defences people put in place to protect themselves against feeling "old hurt". Rather than approaching people's defenses with full-on confrontation in order to break through, our work approaches people's defences with sensitivity and within an atmosphere of security - with the minimum of threat - which helps the gentle 'melting' of the defense and foster healing. Too much confrontation may simply tighten the defence or, even worse, overwhelm to the degree that it cannot be worked through and integrated.
Body psychotherapy can be long term or short term. Sessions are usually once a week for 1,5 hours, but frequency and length of sessions can differ or change according to your needs and the therapist’s style of work.
Postural Integration® sessions are usually one to one. Energetic Integration® sessions can be one to one, but some practitioners work with it in a group setting. Practitioners who are trained in both modalities, may introduce select Postural Integration® hand-on techniques along with Energetic Integration® techniques in a group workshop as well.
Body psychotherapists trained in Postural Integration® and/or Energetic Integration® are primarily trained to work with adults (over 18’s). Some therapists will have acquired extra qualifications that enable them to work with children as well. Please check with your local practitioner what is possible.