Definition of Body Psychotherapy
Body Psychotherapy is a distinct branch of the main body of psychotherapy with a long history and a large body of knowledge based upon a sound theoretical position. At the same time, it involves a different and explicit theory of mind-body functioning that takes into account the complexity of the intersections of and interactions between the body and the mind, with the common underlying assumption being that a functional unity exists between mind and body. The body does not merely mean the “soma,” which is separate from the mind, the “psyche.” Although many other approaches in psychotherapy touch on this issue, Body Psychotherapy considers this principle to be fundamental.
Body Psychotherapy involves a developmental model, theory of personality, hypotheses about the origins of psychological disturbances and alterations, as well as a rich variety of diagnostic and therapeutic techniques used within the framework of the therapeutic relationship. Many different and sometimes quite separate approaches are found within Body Psychotherapy, as there are in the other main branches of psychotherapy. Body Psychotherapy is also a science, as well as an art, having developed over the last seventy-five years from the results of research in biology, anthropology, proxemics, ethology, neurophysiology, developmental psychology, neonatology, perinatal studies, and many more disciplines.
A wide variety of techniques are used within Body-Psychotherapy, including those involving touch, movement and breathing. There is, therefore, a link with some body oriented therapies, somatic practices, and complementary medical disciplines, but although these may also involve touch and movement, they are very distinct from Body Psychotherapy. Body Psychotherapy recognizes the continuity and the deep connections that all psycho-corporal processes contribute, in equal fashion, to the organization of the whole person. There is no hierarchical relationship between mind and body, between psyche and soma. They are both functioning and interactive aspects of the whole.
-Adapted from the EABP definition of Body Psychotherapy
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