WHAT IS BODY PSYCHOTHERAPY OR PSYCHOPHYSICAL THERAPY?

While the idea of the unity of body and mind is well established, in practice it is difficult to avoid privileging one above the other and experiencing the mental as separate from the physical. ‘Body’ and ‘Mind’ seem different both to ourselves and in our experience of other people. Linked but separate, a psycho-somatic pair. However, two is not one! The tendency we have towards defensive splitting reinforces the tendency to experience body and mind as separate.

Body Psychotherapy is a stranded professional field within which most of the strands trace back to Wilhelm Reich and a number of his pupils, among whom are Gerda Boysen, Alexander Lowen and Charles Kelly. Reich’s disturbed relationship with the psychoanalytic establishment along with an occasionally over zealous approach to practical interventions left this important movement outside of the mainstream. More recently, modern Body Psychotherapy has established itself as a sensitive and reflective practice.

A properly psychophysical therapy engages with the person as a psychophysical unity. Data from the physical body is allowed to rank equally with other information including language based cognitive states and understandings. Working form a starting point either physical or mental, it is possible to observe and identify themes which are the expression of the person, the basis of who we are or who we construe ourselves to be. The work is then to help a person to change these basic themes where they are unhelpful or incongruent.

Shares