What is Body Psychotherapy?


Complete Article Link: http://www.bodypsychotherapist.co.uk/body-psychotherapy.htm

Body Psychotherapy has a tradition reaching back to the 1920’s when Wilhelm Reich, a student and colleague of Sigmund Freud, expanded psychoanalysis by noticing how the repression of feelings corresponded to inhibition of the body. He developed the concept of ‘character armour’ to describe how human beings develop fixed and rigid postures and patterns of relating in order to protect themselves against emotional pain. Both psychological and psychosomatic symptoms, he proposed, need to be approached in the context of the underlying character pattern. These patterns, he understood, pervade the whole body/mind, reaching all the way down into biological mechanisms (e.g. our metabolism, our autonomic nervous system, our breathing etc.).

Wilhelm Reich originated a whole range of approaches, with his pupils and followers developing particular aspects of his work further and diversifying into a variety of modern schools of Body Psychotherapy, such as bioenergetics (Alexander Lowen), Radix (Charles Kelly), Core Energetics (John Pierrakos), Integrative Body Psychotherapy (Jack Rosenberg), Emotional Anatomy (Stanley Keleman), Biodynamic Psychology (Gerda Boyesen), Hakomi (Ron Kurtz), Biosynthesis (David Boadella).

Modern Body Psychotherapy
For 28 years, these principal branches of the Body Psychotherapy tradition were integrated and taught in the UK at the Chiron Centre for Body Psychotherapy and the practitioners who can be found in this directory would have been influenced by the work of Chiron. It has tried to address some of the shadow aspects and weaknesses of traditional Body Psychotherapy, and has developed a 21st century approach which integrates important psychotherapeutic principles from other therapeutic approaches, e.g. Gestalt, modern psychoanalysis (object relations,intersubjectivity, relational psychoanalysis), transpersonal approaches and Family Constellations as well as incorporating inisghts from neuroscience, complexity theory and integral philosophy (Ken Wilber).

One of the main developments is the increasing attention to the therapeutic relationship. Of course, all psychotherapy has depended on a good relationship between client and therapist all along, and the often rather amorphous notion of the ‘quality of relationship’ has been recognised as an essential ingredient in a good therapeutic outcome. But one can have a ‘good’ relationship with one’s doctor which is the position which traditionally many therapists tried to emulate. However, in psychotherapy it can become easily counterproductive for the therapist to assume too much of an expert position, from which treatment is administered. This can play into the client’s habitual patterns of disempowerment, compliance or passivity, thus exacerbating the very patterns which may be causing problems in the client’s life. What has, therefore, been increasingly recognised is that therapy is not only something the therapist does to the client – it is something that happens between them.

What happens in a session?
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. Biodynamic Massage, Gestalt, Psychodrama, Transactional Analysis, Psychosynthesis).

Typically, many of us – especially when we are struggling or are in pain – can only manage to be aware of our experience in a fragmented way, and get caught in repetititve patterns of attending to and processing the various bits and pieces of our distress rather selectively. Another aspects of this is that we impose past experiences and conclusions on our current challenges or even onto people we meet.

The simple use of 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 sometimes access powerful feelings and conflicts which people learn to repress and suppress over a lifetime, but it can also encourage grounding and containment.

Other techniques which extend and amplify the meaning of body impulses and experiences include Biodynamic Massage, Gestalt dialogue, role play, visualisation and guided imagery, dreamwork and creative expression through drawing, moving etc.


Pulse Somatic-EnergeticGregory Nye reviewed this article and posted it on his blog .

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Formative psychology is based in the evolutionary process in which life continually forms the next series of shapes, from birth through maturity to old age. At conception each person is given a biological and emotional inheritance, but it is through voluntary effort that a human fulfills the potential for forming a personal life. Form gives rise to feeling. When individual identity is grounded in somatic reality, we can say: I know who I am by how I experience myself.
Formative psychology gives a philosophy and method of how to work with our life. We learn to regenerate our emotional and instinctual vitality, to inhabit our body, and to incorporate our excitement and emotional aliveness. The goal of formative practice is to use daily life to practice being present and to create an adult self and reality. I proceed from the premise that we are each conceived as an adult and that we grow the adults we are meant to be.
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All of us are in a continual process of forming, stabilizing, and reforming our adult reality. This process of forming and reforming is a continuous extension and contraction of tissue motility, a reflex that is an unbroken chain through our life. Pulsation is an essential expression of our hormonal and emotional life. The pulse process, like the heartbeat, is crucial in the maintaining our body shape and development. A continuous pulse organizes cycles of arousal. When pulsation is inhibited or overstimulated, our somatic, emotional and mental life also changes.
In the practice of forming, we work with the pulsation patterns of the soma and restore the bodys natural rhythm and vitality. The areas of voluntary management in the brain are used and undergo growth.
There is a methodology to formative psychology that I call the Bodying Practice. The Bodying Practice engages the voluntary part of the brain to work with the reflex, nonvolitional somatic functions. The brain can suggest patterns of behavior as well as form an image of its own body to have a relationship with itself. Of first importance is to be bodied, to form ones body in living the stages of our somatic existence.
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The Bodying Practice is inaugurated by intensifying whatever we recognize as our present somatic-emotional stance. This intensifying is meant to magnify the pattern of our way of being present along with its images, memories, and thoughts. We can then disorganize what we have voluntarily done and in so doing learn how we can have some say over what we do. This helps bring into relief the reflex or unknown structures that have been inaccessible to us. It is similar to throwing a pebbled into the water and initiating rings of response. In this sequence, we become familiar with how we organize our actions and how we can use our brains to affect our responses and feelings. The work of the exercises is to form an adult soma and brain, and an adult emotionality in social relationships.
The work is not only meant to be intimate with past structures and how to disorganize them, but it is also about having a tool for present and future situations. The exercises are done slowly in frame-by-frame fashion to discover ones own speed and to compensate for somatic anesthesia—to become intimate with the unforming and forming sensation of the pulse pattern.
To work somatically in this way is to bring about a shift in recognition and to experience the way we organize to be present, to solve problems and to try on the new shapes of expression. It also organizes a dialogue between body and brain which shifts the patterns of meaning and order. We begin to live our destiny, our somatic inheritance. We begin to empower ourselves in forming our adult and its relationships

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