What to Expect in Bioenergetic Therapy
Bioenergetic Therapy is both verbal and physical. The verbal work consists of an exploration of an individual's past, dreams, associations and current issues. Work with the body gives people a chance to become aware of their emotional issues on a tangible body level to facilitate change.
Bioenergetic therapy works with the whole person by addressing conflicts cognitively, emotionally and physically. Individuals gain greater awareness of old patterns of action and reaction, increased capacity to tolerate and resolve conflict or trauma and enhanced ability to experience pleasure.
Bodywork in Bioenergetics
Bodywork refers to the physical component of Bioenergetic Therapy which takes place in individual sessions, Bioenergetic Movement Groups, workshops, training and clinical seminars. The purpose of bodywork is to increase self-awareness and to create change.
Evocative Physical Interventions
Bodywork is a way that Bioenergetic Therapists physically intervene with patients. Physical interventions can involve postural changes, deepening breathing, and expressive movements as well as various forms of touch including the application of pressure to tightly contracted muscles or touch to guide or comfort. All physical work is an integral part of this unique active psychotherapy and all Certified Bioenergetic Therapists have extensive training in the application of these interventions. Physical interventions evoke impulses, feelings, memories, insight, and dreams. Evocative Physical Interventions set Bioenergetic Therapy apart from conventional therapy, providing patients with effective tools to enhance the therapeutic process and mobilize change.
To breathe deeply is to be fully alive. Breathing is intimately connected to our emotional states. Since we suppress emotion by holding our breath and tensing our muscles, we find that with every emotional conflict there is a limitation in one's breathing. Chronic muscular tension, caused by unresolved emotional conflicts inhibits full and free breathing. Bioenergetic therapists work to mobilize the chronic tension that inhibits free breathing. Deepening one's breathing releases held emotions and memories. Freeing these emotions and memories makes change possible.
Grounding means having your feet on the ground and standing on your own two feet. Being ungrounded means being a pushover, having your head in the clouds, being weak-kneed or being hung up. A primary goal in Bioenergetic therapy is to become more grounded in oneself and in one's relationships with others. Being grounded allows us to realistically move into life and to strive for what we desire.
History of Bioenergetic Analysis
Bioenergetic Analysis has its origins in psychoanalysis, a theory for understanding the genesis of human personality and behavior originated by Sigmund Freud and those around him, including Wilhelm Reich. Freud said that the ego, that is the autonomous self, is first and foremost a body ego. The self is derived from the internal psychic structures that come out of early sensations, motivation, and social responses. Psychoanalysis emphasizes the power of insight -- understanding one's motivation and drives to become autonomous and self-directing. It is largely a receptive practice by the therapist with occasional reflection back to the patient.
Early on, followers of Freud's ideas were drawn to more active interaction with the patient. Sandor Ferenczi supported using active interventions in psychotherapy. Wilhelm Reich developed a practice in psychotherapy -- now used in all analytically-based treatments - in which the person's habitual ways of acting and defending against internal conflicts become a focus of the therapy (character analysis). Reich added to this insight a systematic approach to body structures and patterns which correspond to psychological structures and patterns. He saw the effects of early childhood treatment in the minds and bodies of his patients, and developed interventions to open the blocked energy necessary for healthy development.
Building on this foundation, Alexander Lowen expanded and further developed the model of character analysis, adding critical concepts such as grounding (the person's relationship with reality as manifested in body and mind) and the use of movement and stress positions as part of the therapist's tool box. Psychoanalysis has undergone continued development over the years since Freud including a greater understanding of the role of relationship in personality development; the importance of early attachment patterns, and the role of the therapist as a person.
Modern Bioenergetic Analysis has embraced the concepts of Object Relations Theory, Attachment Theory, Self Psychology, and Relational Psychoanalysis, which focuses on the nature of the relationship between therapist and patient as an inter-subjective event. Bioenergetic Analysis is a dynamic evolving modality, grounded in clinical and scientific research in the field of psychotherapy and committed to the systematic, sophisticated use of body centered interventions in the therapeutic process.