Body Psychotherapy, also called somatic psychotherapy, it is a process that recognises the intimate relationship between the human body and psychological well-being.
The starting point is that the body is a mirror of the functioning of the whole person and that there is an interaction between body, emotions and mind. The client strengthens his/her insight into this interaction and increases awareness of his own functioning, physically, emotionally and mentally.
In the process of therapy, the client is invited to let go of old beliefs and conclusions and to become more and more who he/she really is. Where negative patterns, blocks or other events (such as trauma, relationship crisis, illness and/or experience of loss) get in the way of a healthy balance of emotions, the therapy helps to (again) trust in one’s own qualities, experiences and feelings. This creates space for learning new skills and adopt better ways of thinking. You are more able to make choices and take actions that lead you to your goals.
Contemporary scientific insights about brain development and developmental psychology confirm the link between body awareness and emotional well-being.
Working the Body-oriented Way
Patterns that can prevent us from experiencing ourselves fully, are stored in the body. Our mind may have already forgotten or suppressed these old patterns. The body still knows and displays them in feeling, thinking and doing on a daily basis, ‘below the radar’ of our awareness.
The body communicates through posture. Movement, gestures, facial expressions, or a lack thereof, become non-verbal messages. Tension or relaxation, restlessness or calm, even heartbeat, breathing patterns and physical complaints are a reflection of feeling and thought. By translating the non-verbal message of these physical aspects into words, the client can gain more insight into his/her behaviour and how this contributes to the problems in his/her life. With this new awareness,
new possibilities arise for how to change old patterns and to live more in the reality of the present.
The Therapeutic Relationship
An essential aspect of body-oriented therapy is the therapeutic relationship, the contact between the client and the therapist. A body-oriented therapist will take the position of a professional yet relate from a position of equality with the client.
The therapist will listen without judgement and by accepting the client and his/her wishes and needs, a basis of trust is created. This relationship of trust creates space for letting go of patterns and making new choices. The contact is based on respect for everyone’s individuality and boundaries.
In addition to professional knowledge and methodology, the therapist brings his/her unique presence and personality to the service of the client and his/her process.
The Therapeutic Method
In addition to talking and the therapeutic relationship, work is done with various experiential physical and interactive methods.
Postural Integration (PI)
We tend to suppress non-acceptable feelings through breathing less and tensing our bodies. A consequence of this is being less able to feel joy and pleasure, as well as getting physical complaints and bodypain.
A central part of PI is deep massage work on holding patterns and tensions in the body. It is combined with work on breathing, with movement, and expression of thoughts and feelings. By means of deep connective tissue massage, in combination with psychotherapeutic guidance, psychological and physical complaints are healed.
The basic principle of Bioenergetics is that negative experiences and stress are stored in the body in the form of chronic muscular tension. By working with the breath, posture, expression, stretching and movement, the client is able to connect with the repressed emotions and process them. The result is emotional balance and physical vitality.
Gestalt Therapy is an approach to psychotherapy that helps the person stay in the present and understand what is really happening in their life, rather than focusing on the past. You will not only talk about what you think, but also about what you feel and what you experience.
What do you feel in your body, with all your senses? What is happening here and now? By becoming more aware you often find new and better answers to your questions.
Through the gestalt process, clients learn to become more aware of their own negative thinking patterns and behaviours. The therapist does not give you standard answers, but helps you to investigate where you keep getting stuck and what you need to continue.
Focusing is directing your attention to the physical experience of the events, issues and problems you encounter. As a result, new insights are gained into issues that were initially only vague or difficult to describe.
By making a connection with the ‘felt sense’ of psychological or physical complaints, these can be better understood and solutions more in line with your values and purpose will appear .
In coaching, the coach helps the client maximise his performance to achieve the desired goals effectively.
The essence of coaching is:
Helping a person identify and achieve personal goals
Help a person to increase their own personal and social awareness
Empowerment in making his own conscious choices
People themselves have all the means to solve their own problems. With this principle in mind, the coach tries not to ‘fix’ the client, but rather to create awareness of factors that can hinder the achievement of goals. Think of limiting beliefs, values, feelings and thoughts.
By identifying and examining these limitations, you learn to create your own tools to effectively overcome current and even future obstacles.