Understanding the Brain

Body psychotherapy

From Cognopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Mind-body interventions - edit
NCCAM classifications
  1. Alternative Medical Systems
  2. Mind-Body Intervention
  3. Biologically Based Therapy
  4. Manipulative Methods
  5. Energy Therapy
See also

This box: view · talk · edit

Body psychotherapy,[1][2][3] also referred to as body-oriented psychotherapy and somatic psychology, is a significant branch of psychotherapy, with origins in the work of Pierre Janet, Sigmund Freud and particularly Wilhelm Reich.

Body psychotherapy addresses the body and the mind as a whole, with emphasis on the complex reciprocal relationships within the body and the mind. It includes an awareness of the client's process as manifested in their body, specifically in body language, emotional expression, affect, proxemics, psychosomatics, infant development, somatic resonance, and sexuality.[citation needed]

One historical branch of body psychotherapy evolved from the work of Wilhelm Reich, author of Character Analysis and many other books, who developed his form of body-oriented "psychoanalysis" into what he called vegetotherapy or character-analytic vegetotherapy. Reich worked and trained people in Berlin, Copenhagen and Oslo in the 1930s. When he moved to America in 1939, he proceeded to influence analysts and psychotherapists both in the United States and later again in post-war Europe. Many of these psychotherapists developed and practiced their own forms of (neo-)Reichian body-oriented psychotherapy. One of the direct developments of Reich's work in the US was the development of what he called 'orgonomy'; another was bioenergetic analysis, developed by Alexander Lowen and John Pierrakos.[citation needed]

Body psychotherapy itself, with all of its numerous branches, is now becoming recognised as a significant mainstream branch of psychotherapy. There are various body psychotherapy associations and training schools in the UK, France, Germany, Russia, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Spain, Greece, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Serbia, Israel, the USA, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Australia and Japan. Training standards, length of training, academic rigour, ethics and research are comparable to many other branches of psychotherapy. Body psychotherapy has been accepted as a scientifically valid mainstream branch of psychotherapy by the European Association for Psychotherapy (EAP), and by national and state psychotherapy associations in several European countries. There are Master's degree and PhD courses in Body Psychotherapy (Somatic Psychology) in various universities in the USA: California Institute of Integral Studies; Naropa University, Boulder, CO; Santa Barbara Graduate Institute, Santa Barbara, CA; and JFK University, Berkeley, CA; as well as several courses existing in European universities. Several body psychotherapy journals also exist, including Energy & Character, The USABP Journal of Body Psychotherapy and the Journal of Body, Dance & Movement in Psychotherapy.[citation needed] The European Association for Body Psychotherapy (EABP) has a searchable bibliography of body-psychotherapy, containing over 4,000 entries.[4]

There is a website listing of significant research projects in body psychotherapy,[improper synthesis?] and a recent review of body psychotherapy research,[5] which examine its efficacy. Additionally, body psychotherapy is significantly being informed by and supported by recent developments in neuroscience [6][unreliable source?] building up a neurodynamic paradigm for body psychotherapy.

Parallel to all this, it is generally understood that the broader concepts of body psychotherapy, like "energy" in the body, are similar to the "energy" concepts of Eastern medicines and philosophies (yoga, acupuncture, tai chi chuan, etc.) and also have connections with other "body therapies" (like massage, Alexander technique, Feldenkrais method, Rolfing, etc.).[citation needed]

Branches (or methods) of body psychotherapy often trace their origins to the work of the founders of the particular specialities, like 'Bioenergetic Analysis' to the work of Lowen & Pierrakos, 'Radix' to the work of Chuck Kelley, 'Biosynthesis' to the work of David Boadella,[7] 'Biodynamic Psychology' to that of Gerda Boyesen, 'Rubenfeld Synergy' to [Ilana Rubenfeld]'s work, 'Body-mind Psychotherapy' to a development of Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen's work, and 'Body-mind Centering' by Susan Aposhyan.[8] and many others. Several of these people were influenced by the work of Wilhelm Reich, but were also considerably influenced by a variety of other people and their methods.[9] Syntheses of these approaches are also becoming accepted and recognised in their own right (viz: The Chiron Approach: Chiron Association of Body Psychotherpists [10]). This adds to the richness and diversity of the field of body psychotherapy.[original research?]

Body psychotherapy is one modality used in a multi-modal approach to treating psychological trauma, particularly PTSD and C-PTSD.[11][12][13]

A more recent branch of body psychotherapy, known as Process Oriented Psychology has evolved out of Amy and Arnold Mindell's work with the "dreambody".[14][improper synthesis?] Arnold Mindell, originally a physicist who became a Jungian analyst, began researching illness as a meaningful expression of the unconscious mind. This is an integrative approach to illness,[15] which addresses the cultural, emotional, spiritual and physical connections that illness invites. The "dreambody" is believed to be an organizing principle in the background somewhat like a morphogenetic field (Rupert Sheldrake).[16][improper synthesis?]

The generic term body psychotherapy was utilised first in the 1980s when professional associations relating to this type of psychotherapy began to form. There are now various professional associations of body psychotherapy in Europe (EABP), America (USABP) and the Australian Association of Somatic Psychotherapists (AASP), as well as others are forming around the world.[citation needed]

See also


  1. Body Psychotherapy: An Introduction. Nick Totton. Open University Press. 2003. ISBN 0-335-21038-4 (pb); 0-335-21039-2.
  2. Body Psychotherapy, ed. Tree Staunton. Brunner Routledge. 2002. ISBN 1-58391-115-4 9PB0; 1-58391-116-2 (pb)
  3. Body, Breath and Consciousness: A Somatics Anthology, ed. Macnaughton, North Atlantic Books. (August 5, 2004). English ISBN 1-55643-496-0 ISBN 978-1-55643-496-9
  4. EABP bibliography
  5. Röhricht, F. (2009). Body-oriented psychotherapy: The state of the art in empirical research and evidence-based practice: A clinical perspective. Journal of Body, Movement & Dance in Psychotherapy, Vol. 4, No. 2, pp. 135-156.
  6. Xavier, JIT - A atenção, a consciência e o 'dar-se conta' no paradigma da psicoterapia neurodinamica. Revista Reichiana, n. 14:45-70. S. Paulo, 2005. ISSN 1678-9792
  7. Lifestreams: An introduction to Biosynthesis. David Boadella. 1987. Routledge & Kegan Paul. ISBN 0-7102-1145-7
  8. Body-Mind psychotherapy: Principles, Techniques and Practical Applications. Susan Aposhyan. W.W. Norton. 2004. ISBN 0-393-70441-6
  9. Handbuch der Körperpsychotherapie (The Handbook of Body Psychotherapy), (ed.) Gustl Marlock & Halko Weiss. Schattauer. 2006. ISBN 978-3-7945-2437-0
  10. Contemporary Body Psychotherapy, (ed.) Linda Hartley. 2009. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-43939-8
  11. Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma. Peter Levine. 1997. North Atlantic Books. ISBN 1-55643-233-X
  12. Victims of Cruelty: Somatic Psychotherapy in the Healing of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Eckberg M. Levine P.
  13. Healing Trauma: A Pioneering Program for Restoring the Wisdom of Your Body (Hardcover). Levine P. Publisher: Sounds True; Har/Com edition. (March 2005). English ISBN 1-59179-247-9; ISBN 978-1-59179-247-5
  14. Mindell, A. Working with the Dreaming Body. Routledge 1985
  15. Morin, P. The Dreambody: A New Integrative Approach to Illness
  16. Rupert Sheldrake: A New Science of Life: The Hypothesis of Formative Causation. Icon Books. 2009. ISBN 978-1-84831-042-1