Body Centered Psychotherapy

What is embodiment?

The moment to moment process by which human beings allow awareness to enhance the flow of thoughts, feelings, sensations, and energies through our bodily selves.
Embodiment requires the creative ability to allow the life of the universe to move through our bodies, be colored by our unique perspectives, and move back out into the world (e.g., food, air, liquid, sights, and sounds)

• How present am I in this moment in my body?
• How much of my body is actively available to respond to the present moment?
• What aspects of my whole being and body are dancing with the flow of information and energy that is coming into it?
• In terms of output, how much of my being is available to understand, respond to the environment

How anomalies in mental health are viewed

• Connection seen between physical and (so called) mental dysfunction. Any traumatic or wounding event will negatively impact the functioning of a person’s body, emotions, thoughts, and behaviors
• Many physical illnesses are seen as potentially an expression of emotional and/or cognitive upsets (e.g., ulcers, migraines, skin rashes)
• Physical illness seen as metaphor for underlying issues (e.g., backaches may reflect lack of support, uprightness or burden; sore throat may be holding back of speech or sound)
• Physical illness may be potential symptom of the somatic unconscious
• somatic counseling is movement oriented
• Anomalies tend to be seen as state of stillness or blocked movement in the body
• Chronic tightening or collapsing to restrict our energy or movement which becomes fixated in the body- character armor (
• Armoring becomes a persona or false self that reacts automatically and dysfunctional in the world
• Defense mechanisms are literally physical states of posturing or positioning the body
• When our reality is not properly validated, we learn to mistrust our senses and the body in which we are embedded in order to be cognitively in tune with the environment.

Treatment: body-centered perspective

• Two clinical perspectives: process orientation and use of direct experience
• Focus less on examining the story and more on the process of how the client operates within the story.
• small gestures and changes in breathing are at times more significant than the family tree
• The fact that her jaw tightens when speaking of her father is pursued as deeply as an explanation of feelings towards her father
• Treatment consists of the client having direct experiences that promote healing. These experiences in the here and now sensory and behavioral experience that change can occur
• Body-centered therapist seek to reestablish the loop of sensation, feeling and expressing as their healing modality
• Exercises are designed that invite felt-level material or simply urge the client to track and stay with sensation and feeling and allow them to completely reveal themselves
• Most common techniques are the use of breath, expressive movement, imagery and touch
• Since breath is seen as one of our most life affirming and promoting activities, Breathwork is perhaps the primary intervention
• Breathwork is believed to clear blockages, resolve trauma and promote healthy functioning
• Expressive movement: goal to reestablish. Encourage clients to move what they feel. This includes sounding
• Imagery: Images can be referenced through the body or processed by the body. (e.g., dreams, memories, metaphor)
• All images are somaticized: worked with by allowing sensation, energy, and movement to guide them