The Contributions of the Embodied Psychotherapy Movement to Developments in the Wider Field of Psychotherapy
The role of the ‘body’ in psychotherapy was a taboo issue – an “elephant in the room” – for many years until the 1960s. It was not really until themovement arose as a “third force” that the ‘body’ was once again included (along with the spirit) in the general field of psychology and psychotherapy.
This is not to say that the founders of(e.g. , , and others) related directly to, or worked with, their patients’ (client’s) bodies, nor used any specific embodied approaches: they just noted that, given the five basic principles of humanistic psychology, the body had – up to then – essentially been left out of psychology and psychotherapy. This later inclusion (or recognition) was the start of a ‘subtle’ revolution. It is interesting to note that attention to embodiment developed more quickly and consistently than attention to spiritual aspects: and, whilst we have also seen the development of several transpersonal psychotherapies, they have not carried as much weight as body-oriented aspects.
Joy: Expanding Human Awareness – and a ‘promoter’ of Encounter Groups); (who went on to develop Assagioli’s ‘Psychosynthesis Psychotherapy’ in the UK), and (who developed a transpersonal technique he calls . that he claims has similar effects to taking LSD)., one of the founders of (a development of ), who had also been a patient of in Berlin in the early 1930s , started to work more directly with the body in his therapy work at the in the 1960s and 1970s. This was paralleled by the development of the (EMBA), and also by the presence at Easalen of several people who later became quite influential in the field of psychotherapy: among others, , who founded Rubenfeld Synergy (a synthesis of Gestalt psychotherapy, work, and the ) that has been accepted in the USA as a Body Psychotherapy; (author of
The Esalen community (in Big Sur, CA) also provided many opportunities for developments in the fields of, as well as for specific embodied techniques such as Holotropic Breathwork. It became a major centre for new humanistic and body-oriented psychotherapies, which in the 1970s helped to facilitate, first in America and then in Europe, a gradual greater acceptance of the significance of embodied approaches, emphasising not only the body in psychotherapy, but also the development of various body-oriented psychotherapeutic approaches that started to develop more widely.
More specifically, in the USA, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, two of Reich’s pupils,and , developed another form of embodied psychotherapy, that was later popularised in a number of best-selling books by Lowen. They called this , which became much more widely known than the more purist Reichian tradition which still used Reich’s term ‘ ‘. A great number of people became influenced by Reich’s work and the importance of the body in psychotherapy.
In Europe, David Boadella had in 1970 founded the journal , which became a pre-internet conduit for those interested in body-oriented approaches. He subsequently developed his own form of Body-Oriented Psychotherapy, that he calls “ ” and published the definitive (1987) book of his work, Lifestreams. Also in the 1970s, (a psychology patient of and a physiotherapy pupil of ) began to teach her own form of body-oriented psychotherapy in London, .
There had been a very strong Norwegian tradition of body-oriented techniques and their influence into psychiatry, physiotherapy, child psychiatry and psychotherapy, dating back to Reich’s pre-WW2 work (1934-1939) that is still alive and strong today. It developed primarily from the post-WW2 work of Ola Raknes, Nic Waal, and Reich’s ‘second wife’ Elsa Lindenberg. Trygve Braatoy was another eminent Norwegian psychiatrist, who had been strongly influenced by Reich and who also collaborated with Bulow-Hansen. Lillemor Johnsen (1970), another physiotherapist with an interest in Reich’s work, subsequently influenced Lisbeth Marcher and her body-oriented psychotherapy, ‘Bodynamics’. Bjorn Blumenthal (and others) have carried forward this reasonably well establish tradition of integration and collaboration with Reich’s Character Analytic Vegetotherapy, work.
Michael Heller has written about “The Golden Age of Psychotherapy in Norway” (2007a, 2007b) and he describes how a number of psychoanalysts and psychotherapists have since picked up on the body-oriented themes (inherent in Reich’s work) of (Lewis, 1984; Samuels, 1985; Ross, 2000; Stone, 2006; Pallaro, 2007; Orbach, 2009; Carroll, 2010; Gubb, 2014) and “embodied empathy” (Scheflen, 1964; Gendlin, 1981; Cox & Theilgaard, 1987; Erskine et al., 1999; Pearmain, 1999; Sletvold, 2015).
There were also several other neo-Reichian ‘spin-offs’, especially in America:had developed his own form of an embodied approach, ; and Ron Kurtz developed his embodied (and somewhat transpersonal) approach, which he called . All of these had an increasing impact throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s in the field of psychotherapy, in general. Many other people in America, not connected to Body Psychotherapy, had also been strongly influenced by Reich’s work: these included Frank Zappa, John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Itzak Perlman, Fritjov Capra, Saul Bellow, Alan Ginsberg, Norman Mailer and William Burroughs (Mannion, 2002), as well as the New Yorker artist William Steig, who married Reich’s daughter; the actor Orson Bean, who wrote Me and the Orgone; and the singer Kate Bush. These people helped to popularise Reich’s work after his death.
We have already seen in previous papers how bodily-oriented techniques can be integrated or synthesised with a psychotherapy method or modality to form a body-oriented psychotherapy: for example, Postural Integrative Psychotherapy, or Rubenfeld Synergy. Other ways in which the influence of the embodied psychotherapies has contributed to other forms of psychotherapy include:
- A group of French (Geneva-based) psychoanalysists (Guimon, 1997), many of whom were influenced by , who developed a particular form of relaxation psychotherapy, used in psychoanalysis and later extended into ‘psychomotor therapy’. A similar development was the Jacobsen Relaxation method, also used by psychoanalysts to amplify body awareness (Fortini & Tissot, 1997).
- The technique, developed originally by Schultz for people with hypertension, has since evolved into a recognised form of psychotherapy, prominent in Austria, Germany and Spain, and this has also developed a bodily awareness technique they call the ‘autogenic state’ (de Rivera, 1997);
- , a study of harmony between body and mind, similar in some respects to phenomenology, developed originally by Alfonso Cadcedo, a Columbian neuro-psychiatrist in the 1960s, and then furthered by Abrezol in the late-1960’s to enhance the performance of sports-persons, with remarkable success.
One of the major contributions to the field of Gestalt psychotherapy (post Fritz Perls) has been the work of Body of Awareness, which looks especially at developmental models. William Cornell (2015) has also extended his body-oriented form of Transactional Analysis into psychoanalysis and psychotherapy contributing to those mentioned in the final paragraph.with his Gestalt Body Process Psychotherapy (1993), and also with the significance of body-oriented work in the healing of trauma (1995). , another Gestalt psychotherapist, endorsed and extended this movement, especially in her 2001 book,
In addition, the aspect of work with trauma has also been paralleled more generally: by Babette Rothschild (2000), with what she calls; by Peter Levine’s work in understanding and healing trauma (1997, 2010, 2015); by Pat Ogden’s and her books (2006, 2014); and by Bessel van der Kolk’s (1999, 2015) ground-breaking work linking brain research and body-oriented psychotherapy (see also ). This area is becoming increasingly significant.
Finally, it is clear that a significant branch of psychoanalytical psychotherapy, Relational Psychoanalysis, has relatively recently and whole-heartedly taken up body-oriented work, ascompilation indicates: chapters by Cornell (2010), Bucci (2010), Eldredge & Cole (2010), Pacifici (2010), Gerbarg (2010),Bass (2010) and Newman (2010) all show how various psychoanalysts have brought bodily experience back into their practice. Additionally, other analysts who have utilised bodily experience in their treatment relationship, namely Knoblauch (2010), Nebbiosi & Federici-Nebbiosi (2010) provide useful references. Analysts who describe using their body as both subject and object are Petrucelli (2010) and Harris & Sinsheimer (2010). There are a few further examples of this trend in earlier collection, particularly in two contributions in the final section by Karen Hopenwasser, Tamsin Looker and Ron Balamuth, that extend and enhance the theme of the importance of both the analyst’s and the analysand’s somatic experiences in the relational matrix. These works, which have come out of the ‘postdoc’ community of New York University’s Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis program, begin to bridge the 100-year gap between psychoanalysis and the body.
Anderson, F.A. (2010). Bodies in Treatment: The unspoken dimension. London: The Analytic Press.
Aron, L. & Anderson, F.S. (1998). Relational Perspectives on the Body. New York: Routledge.
Baker, E.F. (1967). Man in the Trap. New York: Macmillan.
Balamuth, R. (1998). Remembering the Body: A psychoanalytic study of presence and absence of the lived body. In: L. Aron & F.S. Anderson (Eds.), Relational Perspectives on the Body, (pp. 263-286). New York: Routledge.
Bass, G. (2010). Sweet are the Uses of Adversity: Psychic integration through body-centered work. In: F.A. Anderson (Ed.), Bodies in Treatment: The unspoken dimension, (pp. 51-78). London: The Analytic Press.
Boadella, D. (1987). Lifestreams: An introduction to Biosynthesis. London: Routledge.
Bucci, W. (2010). The Role of Bodily Experience in Emotional Organization: New perspectives on the multiple code theory. In: F.A. Anderson (Ed.), Bodies in Treatment: The unspoken dimension, (pp. 151-159). London: The Analytic Press.
Carroll, R. (2010). The Subtle Body & Countertransference. [Accessed 12-July, 2016: http://www.thinkbody.co.uk/body-psych/subtlebodyctr.htm]
Cornell, W.F. (2015). Somatic Experience in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy: In the expressive language of the living. London: Routledge.
Cornell, W.F. (2010). Self in Action: the bodily basis of self-organization. In: F.A. Anderson (Ed.), Bodies in Treatment: The unspoken dimension, (pp. 29-50). London: The Analytic Press.
Cox, M. & Theilgaard, A. (1987). Mutative metaphors in psychotherapy: The Aeolian mode. London: Tavistock.
de Rivera, J.L.G. (1997). Autogenic Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis. In: Guimon, J. (Ed.) (1997). The Body in Psychotherapy, (pp. 176-181). Basel: Karger.
Eldredge, C.B. & Cole, G.W. (2010). In: F.A. Anderson (Ed.), Bodies in Treatment: The unspoken dimension, (pp. 79-102). London: The Analytic Press.
Erskine, R.G., Moursund, J.P. & Trautmann, R.L. (1999). Beyond Empathy: A Therapy of Contact-in-Relationship. London: Taylor & Francis.
Fortini, K. & Tissot, S. (1997). For a typology of body-mediated therapies. In: Guimon, J. (Ed.) (1997). The Body in Psychotherapy, (pp. 94-106). Basel: Karger.
Frank, R. (2001). Body of Awareness: A somatic and development approach to psychotherapy. Cambridge, MA: Gestalt Press.
Gendlin, E. (1981). Focusing. London: Bantam.
Gerbarg, P.L. (2010). Yoga and Neuro-Psychoanalysis. In: F.A. Anderson (Ed.), Bodies in Treatment: The unspoken dimension, (pp. 51-78). London: The Analytic Press.
Gubb, K. (2014). Craving Interpretation: A case of Somatic Countertransference.. British Journal of Psychotherapy, Vol. 30, No. 1, pp. 51-67. [Accessed 12-Jul, 2016: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bjp.12062/abstract]
Guimon, J. (Ed.) (1997). The Body in Psychotherapy. Basel: Karger.
Harris, A. & Sinsheimer, K. (2010). The Analysts’s Vulnerability: Preserving and fine-tuning analytic bodies. In: F.A. Anderson (Ed.), Bodies in Treatment: The unspoken dimension, (pp. 255-274). London: The Analytic Press.
Heller, M.C. (2007a). The golden age of body psychotherapy in Oslo I: From gymnastics to psychoanalysis. Body Movement and Dance in Psychotherapy, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp. 6-16.
Heller, M.C. (2007b). The golden age of body psychotherapy in Oslo II: From vegetotherapy to nonverbal communication. Body Movement and Dance in Psychotherapy, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 81-94.
Hopenwasser, K. (1998). Listening to the Body: Somatic representations of dissociated memory. In: L. Aron & F.S. Anderson (Eds.), Relational Perspectives on the Body, (pp. 215-236). New York: Routledge.
Johnsen, L. (1970). Integrated Respiration Therapy. Self-published.
Kepner, J. (1993). Body Process: Working with the Body in Psychotherapy. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.
Kepner, J. (1995) Healing Tasks: psychotherapy with adult survivors of childhood abuse. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.
Knoblauch, S.H. (2010). Tipping Points between Body, Culture and Subjectivity: The tension between passion and custom. In: F.A. Anderson (Ed.), Bodies in Treatment: The unspoken dimension, (pp. 193-212). London: The Analytic Press.
Levine, P. (1997). Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma – The Innate Capacity to transform overwhelming experiences. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
Levine, P. (2010). In an Unspoken Voice: How the body releases trauma and restores goodness. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
Levine, P. (2015). Trauma and Memory: Brain and Body in a search for the living past: A practical guide to understanding and working with traumatic memory. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
Lewis, P. (1984). The Somatic Countertransference: The inner ‘pas de deux‘. In: P. Lewis (Ed.), Theoretical approaches in dance-movement therapy. London: Tavistock.
Looker, T. (1998). “Mama, Why Don’t Your Feet Touch the Ground?”: Staying with the body and the healing moment in psychoanalysis. In: L. Aron & F.S. Anderson (Eds.), Relational Perspectives on the Body, (pp. 237-262). New York: Routledge.
Nebbiosi, G. & Fererici-Nebbiosi, S. (2010). “We” Got Rhythm: Miming and the polyphony of identity in psychoanalysis. In: F.A. Anderson (Ed.), Bodies in Treatment: The unspoken dimension, (pp. 213-235). London: The Analytic Press.
Newman, H.M. (2010). Coming into Being: Employing the wisdom of the body and mind-body therapy. In: F.A. Anderson (Ed.), Bodies in Treatment: The unspoken dimension, (pp. 169-191). London: The Analytic Press.
Ogden, P., Minton, K. & Pain, C. (2006). Trauma and the Body: A sensorimotor approach to psychotherapy. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.
Ogden, P. & Fisher, J. (2006). Sensorimotor Psychotherapy: Interventions for trauma and attachment. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.
Orbach, S. (2009). Bodies. London: Picador.
Pacifici, M.P. (2010). The Co-construction of “Psychoanalytical Choreography” and the Dancing Self: Working with an anorectic patient. In: F.A. Anderson (Ed.), Bodies in Treatment: The unspoken dimension, (pp. 103-126). London: The Analytic Press.
Pallaro, P. (2007). Somatic Countertransference. In: P. Pallaro (Ed.), Authentic Movement: Moving the Body, Moving the Self, Being Moved: A Collection of Essays – Volume Two, (pp. 176-193). London: Jessica Kingsley.
Pearmain, R. (1999). What do we mean by developing empathy and intuition. Counselling, February, pp. 45-48.
Petrucelli, J. (2010). When a Body meets a Body: The impact of the therapist’s body on eating-disordered patients. In: F.A. Anderson (Ed.), Bodies in Treatment: The unspoken dimension, (pp. 237-254). London: The Analytic Press.
Ross, M. (2010). Body talk: Somatic countertransference. Psychodynamic Counselling, 6, pp. 451-467. [Accessed 12-Jul, 2016: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13533330050197089?journalCode=rpco19]
Rothschild, B. (2000). The Body Remembers: The psychophysiology of trauma and trauma treatment. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.
Samuels, A. (1985). Jung and the post-Jungians. London: Routledge.
Scheflen, A. (1964). The significance of posture in communication systems. Psychiatry, 27, pp. 316-324.
Schultz, W. (1967). Joy: Expanding Human Awareness. London: Atlantic Books.
Sletvold, J. (2015). Embodied Empathy in psychotherapy: Demonstrated in supervision. Body, Movement and Dance in Psychotherapy, Vol. 10, No. 2, pp. 82-93. [Accessed 12-July, 2016: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17432979.2014.971873?journalCode=tbmd20]
Stone, M. (2006). The analyst’s body as a tuning fork: Embodied resonance in countertransference. Journal of Analytical Psychology, Vol. 51, No. 1, pp. 109-124. [Accessed 12-Jul, 2016: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16451324]
van der Kolk, B. (2015). The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, mind & body in the healing of trauma. New York: Penguin.
van der Kolk, B., Macfarlane, A.C. & Weiseath, L. (Eds.) (1999). Traumatic Stress: The effects of traumatic experience on the brain, body and society. New York: Guilford.
Westland, G. (2015). Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication in Psychotherapy. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.
Wilson, M. (2002). Six views of Embodied Cognition. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, Vol. 9, No. 4, pp. 625-636. [Accessed 25-May, 2016: http://www.indiana.edu/~cogdev/labwork/WilsonSixViewsofEmbodiedCog.pdf]