Body psychotherapy involves somatic movements like touch, breathing, and movement techniques to deals a wide range of mental and physical health concerns that might make a person opt for therapy.
What to expect?
As a branch of somatic psychology, Body psychotherapy is based on the theory that people experiences the world through their body along with their thoughts and emotions simultaneously This approach to psychotherapy is considered to be more experiential than traditional forms of psychotherapy. Among its influences are dance therapy, gestalt psychology, art therapy, biology, family systems, neurology, and far reaching Indian philosophy.
How does it work?
When the therapist initiates body psychotherapy, the first session which follow a therapeutic procedure similar to a talk therapy session. The therapist typically begin with conduction of assessments to collect information about interpersonal relationships, presenting concerns, and the person’s experiences with their personal losses, trauma, and abuse. The therapist might also employ body reading, an assessment technique that aids in identifying how a person’s body might be providing crucial information.
Once the immediate concerns have been recognized and the goals for treatment is formulated, the therapist goes on to use various techniques designed to bring about a heightened awareness of the body and mind together. These selected techniques are then knitted to meet each person’s unique set of needs based upon the presenting observations of the body, mental health concerns, and the person’s capacity for insight and awareness.
Therapists can incorporate aspects of Gestalt therapy dialogue, dance or body movement therapy, and somatic experiencing, besides the following techniques:
- Grounding: The therapist instructs the person in therapy to attune themselves to the flow of energy from their body toward the ground. The clients are taught stretching, vibration, and breathing exercises in the treatment procedures in order to make them experience a sense of connection to this flow of energy.
- Centering: The therapist instructs and assist the person look inward and stabilize from the inside out.
- Contact and Bodywork: The therapist executes therapeutic touch to draw attention to body tension, it encourages relaxation, and support the person's work in adjusting to safe touch. This practices might include techniques that ranges from a reassuring and confident enhancing hand on the shoulder to biodynamic massage.
- Breathwork: There exists an assumption that people at times with hold themselves from breathing when they actively want to block feelings, breathwork techniques assists people to reconnect with their breath to bring about balance and relaxation.
When is it used?
This wholesome approach to treatment works to address concerns of the body and mind as one. Proponents of the approach assume that many issues impacting emotional well-being is a result of continuous repression of traumatic or harmful memories, which are held in the body. These effects are soon expressed through various means as physical concerns—insomnia, headaches, fatigue, chronic pain which is known as somatization. They might sometimes have an impact on daily function, affecting a person's interpersonal relationships, intimacy, or mood.
Role of therapist:
Therapist trained in body psychotherapy usually possess a thorough understanding of body as well as mind and how the work in union to create both problem and well being of an individual. Their goal is enhance well being by introducing necessary somatic movements
Somatic psychology – body psychotherapy. (n.d.).
Young, C. (1997). History of body psychotherapy.
Thielen, M. (2013, August 5). Body psychotherapy for anxiety disorders. International Body Psychotherapy Journal, 13(2), 44-60.
Totton, N. (2003). Body psychotherapy: An introduction. Maidenhead, England: Open University Press.