Getting therapy can be difficult for some people. You might have tried behavioural talk therapy as a therapeutic process, only to find it triggering. That isn’t to say that behavioural therapy doesn’t work for anyone. Although some people find it really helpful, you might not like that approach.
While we’re all a byproduct of our past, maybe you just need a better way to ease into it. What if there was a way that you could learn to process your emotional state while doing something a little more expressive?
More specifically, you want to combine this therapeutic process with a better understanding of your body. And to better understand your body-mind, you should consider trying a type of somatic psychology with the help of a professional body psychotherapist.
What Is Body Psychotherapy?
Body psychotherapy is a field of practice dedicated to connecting the body and mind. While Behavioral therapy focuses more on helping individuals process the difficult emotions they are feeling, body psychotherapy focuses on helping you feel connected to your brain and the world around you. That’s because it believes that we experience our world through our bodies, which can leave an impact on our body memory.
The practice itself was derived from various branches of psychology and science. In essence, body therapy focuses more on the individual’s own body and tries to make them feel more connected with themselves through evidence-based practice.
Body psychotherapists will focus on techniques that can help people address various physical and mental issues that can eventually lead to them wanting to get therapy. Therefore, they will often focus on stimulating the body through various methods such as movement therapy, dance movement therapy, sensory therapy, and body plays to address various somatic symptoms or issues like generalised anxiety disorder.
The best way to summarise body psychotherapy is that it is a practice that uses various body-oriented therapies to improve body awareness and bring you back into your whole self. We works with you on process-oriented psychology to help you understand what your body is signalling, creating body awareness.
The Body-Mind, It's Not Two
A major pillar of body psychotherapy is connecting the body and mind. While we don’t want to get too technical about how this form of body-oriented psychotherapy helps you, somatic psychology is responsible for helping you understand how your body-mind works. Also by understanding how your mind works, you can find out how to best care for your body.
What Are the Benefits of Body Oriented Psychotherapy?
Body-oriented psychotherapy focuses on helping you find yourself, how your body plays with your mental and emotional state and better deal with the specific disorders that would often motivate you to seek out therapy. But with the help of effective body-mind integration practices, it can offer a wide range of benefits.
It Can Help You Work through Your Attachment Issues
A lot of the struggles we have can often affect our life and how we treat our loved ones. And one of the first places this can really start to manifest is the attachment styles that we have. Although there are plenty of ways you can work through these attachment styles, such as behavioural or talking therapies, one of the most effective ways to improve your current situation is through body psychotherapy.
Various body psychotherapists have found that improving your relationship with your own body can have a very profound effect on your mind. It can help you move past unhealthy attachments and feel more content in how you love the people close to you. This self-exploration gives you an opportunity to unveil the hidden truths inside you and develop strong connections with your inner self while exercising better control over your body and emotions.
It Can Help You Prepare for the Future
Going to a therapist for body therapy does more than just help you process your emotional state and get yourself in the right headspace. Along with helping you process things right now, it will also help you ongoing in all future challenges.
It Could Help You Feel More Content with Life
One of the most important parts of living a happier life is getting in touch with your inner self and really feeling into who you are. When your physical self is detached from your mental self and spiritual self, you can feel like your body is on autopilot or maybe you’re just going through the motions of your daily routine without really feeling alive.
Body psychotherapy looks at the basic processes of our everyday lives, how we make space for our priorities, how we prepare our minds before setting out into the world, how we make boundaries, and how we reach out to others. These processes have emotional, spiritual, bodily, and interpersonal elements that all contribute to our connection.
What is Embodied Relational Therapy?
It’s a holistic technique that stems from body psychotherapy and focuses on the aspects of embodiment and relationships. It is rooted in Reichian bodywork, earth-centred spirituality, and psychodynamic therapy.
This therapy approaches humans as united in body, mind, and spirit because detachment between any of these elements starts creating problems in life. It defines human nature as one that seeks to express itself. Simultaneously, it looks to protect itself in times of difficulty.
What Happens In a Body Psychotherapy Session?
Your body therapist facilitates the healing process using techniques centred around the mind and body’s experience. It particularly emphasises sensations beyond your cognitive awareness lying in the subconscious mind.
For instance, common questions include where do you ‘feel your feelings’ or ‘where do emotional reactions take place in the body? Or, your therapist may suggest certain breathing exercises or a particular posture.
People who go through this type of therapy explain that such techniques give them a real experience of their reactions, feelings, and how they interact with others. And this therapeutic process helps you discover that inevitable bond between your mind, soul and body that you have been struggling to find.
Different Somatic Interventions
Working with you, we help you adopt various somatic interventions. These techniques help your body sense patterns like stress, fear, anxiety, or anger and interrupt them effectively. Here are some of the main ways somatic psychotherapy works.
This technique is focused on the assumption that you tend to stop breathing in an effort to block negative feelings that hinders your progress and disturb your mind-body relationship. It helps you reconnect with your breath to give a sense of balance and relaxation. Body psychotherapy research indicates that breathing exercises are an effective means of alleviating stress and anxiety.
This is the practice of helping the body adjust to feelings of safety, no matter how small they are. It means attending to the slightest sense that ‘it will be okay,’ which teaches the nervous system that it can go through stress and return to a state of calmness.
Grounding in the Present
This technique relies on tools like senses and visualisation to help distract you from negative feelings. Using senses like sight, hearing, smell, and touch, you can ground yourself in the present. One study in the International Body Psychotherapy Journal shows that participants who performed grounding and balance tests reported higher self-efficacy.
Use of Language
It’s difficult to process negative feelings without describing and tracking them. The use of descriptive language helps the experience flow through you, remove negativity from your inner self and act as a healthy way to channel unpleasant emotions while relieving stress and anxiety.
In this technique, the body therapist relies on you to bring attention to your body tension hindering your progress and relationship with your mind and soul. Then, they encourage relaxation and help you adjust.
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Who is Body Therapy For?
Branches of body psychotherapy, such as affect-focused body psychotherapy, can help in addressing psychological distress, trauma, and anxiety disorders such as PTSD. So if you are experiencing any of these states, this therapy is for you.
Empirical research indicates that body psychotherapy can help alleviate symptoms of PTSD, but it is also effective in helping with chronic pain.
However, finding the best online therapy services can be difficult if you don’t know what to look for. Here are some tips to help you find the perfect online therapist for your needs.
People Going Through Major Life Problems
Body psychotherapy is an effective way to help deal with issues in intimate relationships or even a major transition or life event, such as the death of someone close to you.
People Experiencing Physical Manifestations of Stress
When trauma manifests in physical ways, treatment should also take a body-first approach. While most therapists think of training the mind to train the body, we choose a different strategy.
That’s why it’s an effective technique for people experiencing the physical effects of stress. Similarly, it can help people having trouble sleeping, eating, or enjoying a sexual relationship.
In fact, it’s even useful for people prone to overworking. These are people who have trouble saying no and slowing down. Pressure due to work or family responsibilities can push us to our limits, and the very nature of these aspects drives us to do more.
However, it can have lasting effects on our mental and spiritual well-being. To achieve a happy and satisfying life, we must slow down, reconnect with our inner self, pay attention to our body and nurture our soul.
What is the Difference Between Body Psychotherapy and Talking Therapy?
While traditional forms of psychotherapy focus on talking about our feelings, this somatic branch thinks that our bodies do more than just carry our heads (which are considered the main storehouse of feelings and perceptions). Rather, body psychotherapy is about how the entire body stores memories of trauma.
People experiencing mental illness as a result of their trauma may not be able to talk about their experiences. This is where body psychotherapy can help them deal with the symptoms they experience whenever their body remembers that trauma.
We have been using a mixture of these processes for years with addictions, trauma, anxiety, depression and other mental illness with huge results. All our therapy includes the body, it is not complete without it. This work brings about the best results and helps people live a better, more embodied experience of life.
Question & Answers
Body Psychotherapy - FAQ
How does being aware of your body help in psychotherapy?
Body awareness during psychotherapy can prove beneficial because of how our bodies hold onto past experiences and memories.
Physical symptoms of past trauma can manifest as migraines, indigestion, or hormone imbalances, so being aware of the body can help address this.
What does a body therapist do?
A body psychotherapist will help bring awareness to the escapism and avoidance of feelings that is happening with the body, which will in turn reconnect you to feeling and being aware of yourself more. These experiences have often happened unconsciously and bringing awareness to them alone will make a difference.
Will psychotherapy help me?
Yes. If you're dealing with issues like poor body image, low self-esteem, or any sort of developmental trauma, psychotherapy can help. Reviews of various efficacy studies on psychotherapy show that about three-quarters of people who get psychotherapy end up benefitting from it.
What happens when the body says no in therapy?
Learning to say no is part of the boundary-setting process, but many of us forget to do so. This can lead to unexpressed feelings and repressed emotions, which can cause the development of psychological symptoms.
When the body says no in therapy, it is often a fear based response to the line of conversation, this is a great experience to work through, to see what is hidden, it can help in your relationships in life.
What is beyond the body and the mind but thought and perception?
Once you move past the limitations of your body and mind, you can reach a level of awareness that gives you a different perspective. Everything we experience is via the mind, even the body, without words, thought or perception we have nothing. This is something we work through in therapy.