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  • Elle Stübe

Understanding our approach: BODY PSYCHOTHERAPY

Our therapy is deeply informed by the approach known as body psychotherapy. Also called 'somatic psychotherapy' or 'body inclusive' therapy, body psychotherapy has a long history that dates back to the 1930s, when a colleague of Freud's named Wilhelm Reich began to notice a connection in his clients between repressed emotion and their bodies.


His pioneering explorations of including the body in therapeutic work resulted in him being ejected from mainstream psychoanalysis. With that, body inclusive therapy was relegated to the fringes for decades to come. Since Reich, numerous body modalities have been developed in an effort to address human suffering in more effective and holistic ways. Till recently however, all body inclusive psychotherapy was considered taboo and remained largely rejected by mainstream mental health and the medical model.


It was not until visual evidence of the body/mind interface was revealed by fMRI technology, that the vital importance of including the body in treating mental health was finally made clear. This prompted a revisiting of body psychotherapy as psychological theorists, neuroscientists and practitioners alike began mining its rich lineage with renewed respect and interest. The recent flourishing of neuroscience brought new credibility to body inclusive mental health treatment and emergent interest in trauma added urgency to the quest to find safe and effective ways to work with the body directly.


With trauma finally understood to be as much a physiological phenomenon as a psychological one, body psychotherapy seems at last to be gaining the respect, recognition and acceptance it deserves. Body inclusive approaches to working with trauma are now commonplace and theories such as polyvagal theory have their own social media hashtags.


As members of a small global cohort of fully qualified somatic psychotherapists, we are proud to be trained in all body inclusive approaches from Reich to the present day. We use a contemporary form of body psychotherapy that brings traditional somatic practices together with the latest interpersonal neuroscience in a powerful psychobiological approach. Where appropriate and with consent, we also use movement, posture, touch and other somatic tools to help clients connect with their own embodiment, regulate their nervous systems, integrate trauma stored in their body, develop healthy boundaries, address dissociation, restore safety in their own bodies and experience more comfort in and control over their own states.


Including the body in psychotherapy requires rigorous training and demands the therapist not only has a sound theoretical understanding of the body/mind interface, but is highly resourced in their own embodiment and has mastered the art of using their own states of regulation to impact the client’s in both explicit and implicit ways.


Body psychotherapy now sits at the cutting edge of mental health practice and is vital to any contemporary approach in working with humans and their physical and psychological pain. It is a privilege to continue to uphold, protect, develop and share the riches of this important lineage of therapeutic practice with our clients.


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