For me, as a psychotherapist, I like to use the techniques of Bioenergetic Analysis: a somatic (body-oriented) form of psychotherapy. This is a way to supplement traditional talk therapy that helps you to understand your personality in terms of your body and its energetic processes.
How much energy you have and how you use it greatly determines your experiences in life and how alive, joyful and fulfilled you are (or aren’t). Being alive and full of energy allows you more movement, spontaneity, creativity and – usually – better health and a longer, happier life.
Bioenergetic theory is based on the premise that there is no fundamental separation between the mind and the body.
What we think can affect how we feel, and vice-versa. Emotional stress from many areas – relationships, family crises, jobs and health problems – produces tension in the body. Contractions in our muscles are often the result of this unresolved emotional tension. These contractions can have a direct effect on our energy level, our capacity for spontaneous and creative self-expression and feelings of well-being.
Patterns of muscular tension reflect our emotional history and often include early childhood relationships with caregivers, physical and emotional traumatic experiences, and the degree to which self-development was possible.
By addressing conflicts at a cognitive, emotional, and physical level, Bioenergetic Analysis helps us to:
gain greater understanding and awareness of our old patterns of action and reaction
develop a greater capacity to experience and – ultimately – resolve old pain
increase our ability to experience joy and pleasure
feel more alive and energetic.
Are you curious yet? Lots of my psychotherapy clients ask me:
“What do you actually DO in this kind of therapy?”
“How does a therapy session work?”
“Do I still get to talk to my therapist?”
“Is it like Rolfing and that kind of thing?”
To answer these questions, let me give you an overview of how a Bioenergetic therapy session might look. In addition to the usual stuff you do in “talk therapy” (e.g., cognitive and emotional processing), your Bioenergetic therapy session is likely to include interventions such as:
Body awareness interventions are designed to help you become more aware of your body. We may focus on your muscular tension, posture, breathing patterns and the ways in which your physical and emotional tensions, behavioral patterns, and mental states are related.
As your therapist, I may use physical interventions to help you bring more aliveness and movement to your body. These movement experiences may focus on areas of your body that have chronic muscular tension, poor circulation, low levels of awareness, or restricted movement abilities. Physical interventions in your therapy session may include
stretching exercises (to enhance the tone of your muscles)
breathing skills (to raise your energy level if you’re feeling depleted or depressed) or – alternatively – to create states of relaxation if you’re stressed or tense)
stress reduction tools (to expand the range of emotional experiences that you are able to be comfortable with).
Difficult or traumatic material from your past may be the focus of our Bioenergetic work together. To assist you in releasing, understanding and integrating such painful feelings from your past, I may suggest directed experiences in emotional expression – specific body movements, exercises and experiences – to help you deepen your emotional expression and get clarity about past experiences and the tangled emotions that may accompany them and keep you feeling “stuck” in your past.
In Bioenergetic analysis, touch is sometimes used to:
help you bring awareness to your body
release the tension in any muscles where you chronically hold tension
support you as you work through any traumatic events from your past
The guidelines for the use of touch include:
ALWAYS asking your permission when touch is involved
respecting your personal boundaries and preferences in the use of touch
staying within the guidelines for the use of touch designated by the State of California Board of Behavioral Sciences and the ethical codes of professional associations such as the International Institute for Bioenergetic Analysis
Like other forms of therapy, Bioenergetic Analysis can heighten awareness of the past and present and bring up memories, images, and sensations that have been previously unconscious.
Our work together may intensify feelings or emotional experiences that are connected to past traumas.
There may be times during treatment – as in other forms of psychotherapy – when feelings may be uncomfortable or intense. As your therapist, I will work with you to understand these experiences and help you to focus and integrate them.
If you have any questions about bioenergetic work, please give me a call or send me an email by clicking on the “contact me” feature at the top right corner of the screen. I am happy to answer any questions about this wonderful psychotherapeutic technique.