What is it and How does it Work?

Bioenergetic Analysis is a body-based psychotherapy based on the work of Wilhelm Reich, Alexander Lowen and Bob and Virginia Hilton. As a therapeutic modality, it combines bodily, analytic and relational therapeutic work. Bioenergetic Analysis helps to release chronic muscular tension, expand the capacity for intimacy, heal sexual traumas and learn more fulfilling ways of relating to others. Tenderness, aggressiveness and assertiveness are seen as core lifesaving forces. The therapeutic relationship provides a place of safety in which healing begins: the therapist “reads” the language of the client’s body (posture/gesture, breathing, motility, expression), feels their emotions and listens to their words. It is “holistic” therapy in that both the mind and body (and their continual interactions) are addressed.

Bioenergetic analysis helps clients release unconscious holding patterns in their body through breathing, movement and emotional expression while being supported by an experienced, empathic therapist. As a certified bioenergetic therapist, I believe strongly in the connection between our mind, body and emotions. Bioenergetic psychotherapy is one of the most useful and effective techniques I know for getting unstuck from the effects of past traumatic events. Bioenergetic Analysis incorporates attachment theory and relational therapy concepts, as well that of new findings in the fields of neuroscience and trauma therapy. There is an understanding that:

  • somatic, non-verbal processes are vitally important for the processing of early developmental issues
  • toxic environments and early relational trauma are not only seriously damaging to the sense of self but also to the form and motility of a person’s body
  • good therapy has to provide strong relational holding – as well as grounding – if the bodily and psychological self is to be restored

Bioenergetic Analysis helps resolve emotional issues by engaging the wisdom of the body in a safe and caring relationship with a highly-trained therapist. Bioenergetic Analysis recognizes that our life experiences – from our earliest days of childhood onward – leave physical imprints on our body. We have physiological responses to events in our lives that are stored not only in our brains, but also in our cells and muscles. Early traumatic experiences often manifest in a range of problems in adult life, from patterns of failed relationships to illness and chronic pain.

One of the cornerstones of Bioenergetic Analysis is character analysis: the ability to deeply understand the uniqueness of a person through analysis of their unique defensive pattern, both on the somatic and psychological levels. Character structure influences self-perception, self-esteem, self-image and basic patterns of interaction with the environment. Bioenergetic techniques often include movement and physical exercises, grounding, anger releasing and the understanding of muscular tension as indications of somatic and psychological defenses against past trauma. The goal of therapy is more than the absence of symptoms – the goal is aliveness, pleasure, joy, love and vibrant health.

Qualifications for Bioenergetic Psychotherapists

It’s neither quick nor easy (nor inexpensive) to become a bioenergetic therapist: you must complete a four-year training program through the International Institute of Bioenergetic Analysis and – following two years of clinical supervision by a master teacher – can then became certified to do this skillful and challenging work.

Due to the rigorous training and supervision required, there are currently only about a dozen therapists in San Diego County who are trained and certified to do Bioenergetic Analysis. I am proud to say that I am one of this highly-skilled group of psychotherapists.

How does it differ from traditional talk therapy?

Many of my clients want bioenergetic therapy because they have already experienced the benefits (and limitations) of traditional talk therapy and still weren’t where they wanted to be. A wise teacher once told me, “Traditional talk therapy doesn’t address what happens from the neck down. Working with the mind-body relationship in psychotherapy helps draw out an inner knowledge that no amount of reading or talking can do.”

Want to know more?

Here is a link for the Southern California Institute of Bioenergetic Analysis or you can check out the website of the International Institute of Bioenergetic Analysis. You might enjoy watching this two-minute YouTube video that gives you a good overview of how it all works.