What is Body Oriented Psychotherapy?
Body-oriented psychotherapy focusses not only on the therapeutic conversation, but also the body. It thus complements and enriches mental-verbal methods, which lead to rather cognitive insights.
Emotional tension and mental problems are engrained in the body in the form of muscle tension, breathing patterns and postures. Emotions are "remembered" by the body or are physically anchored. Working with the body can therefore be helpful to get in good contact with yourself, to become aware of an emotional state and to find a new way of dealing with it. Body psychotherapy facilitates the perception and expression of bodily sensations and thereby supports the ability for self-development and self-regulation. This constitutes emotionally significant experiences, which the brain needs in order to evolve existing ways of thinking and attitudes.
The central assumption of body psychotherapy, that body and mind are inextricably linked, is supported by the latest neuroscientific research. Body-oriented psychotherapy is a suitable method for you, if you are looking for a holistic approach that addresses not only your head and understanding, but also physical, emotional and subconscious levels.
Does body psychotherapy work with touch?
In body psychotherapy, in addition to talking, I also work with physical touch, physical exercises and teaching body awareness, depending on the context and needs of the client. Bodily touch can be very gentle and used for relaxation and awareness, or it can be used intensely with the aim of physical change.
In the case of physical exercises, the spectrum ranges from adopting "stress positions" with strong tensions to everyday positions and postures in which we unconsciously find ourselves. There are also exercises that aim to enable the perception of certain areas of the body and exercises that focus on breathing to help self-regulate, soften a limiting behavioural pattern, or release an emotional blockade.
In body awareness, attention is drawn to the inner and above all physical experience. Mindfulness is a state of consciousness in which it becomes possible to witness the momentary experience from a non-judgmental inner distance.
Does physical therapy also help with pain and physical symptoms?
Attentive body awareness enables a different way of handling chronic pain, tension and physical symptoms. Body Psychotherapy trains you to perceive pain as a cue that tells you something about yourself. You pay attention to pain and tension instead of ignoring it. This allows you to notice what changes you need in order to feel good again. For example, recurring neck pain may require you to change a certain posture or find movements that relax you, or also to adjust your desk and chair, or rethink your work habits.
Frequent abdominal pain may tell you something about a deeper inner tension that you can resolve by processing the associated feelings, or by reducing stress and taking care of yourself and your diet. In body-oriented psychotherapy you will learn to clearly perceive and interpret your body’s signs.
When does it make sense to involve the body?
Coaching and therapy, coupled with body awareness and empathic touch, can have a deeper impact and often offer a more direct access to your emotions, your patterns and strengths than you can achieve with purely cognitive approaches. Whether and to what extent working with the body makes sense in your case usually becomes evident during the sessions and also results from your topics and your wishes. Some people prefer to speak, others need touch or attention to their physical condition to connect with themselves. You can always decide for yourself what is right for you.