Most psychoanalysts, as noted earlier, are highly opposed to any form of touch in therapy Menninger, , Wolberg, , Smith, et.
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However, many other orientations support the clinically appropriate use of touch Milakovitch, ; Williams, ; Young, ; Zur, a, b. Very few modern analysts, such as Fosshage have differed with the main line analytic doctrine and advocate a clinically responsible use of touch in psychoanalysis. The human potential movement and the humanistic movement of the s introduced a whole new approach to touch and boundaries in therapy. Rogers discusses the value of touch and describes specifically how he has soothed clients by holding, embracing and kissing them.
Gestalt therapy incorporates numerous forms of touch as an integral part of therapy Perls Gestalt practitioners place a special importance on non-verbal communication and non-verbal intervention. Lazarus and Zur note how the promiscuous practices in the s around touch, nudity and sexuality have resulted in some form of backlash, where touch and other boundary crossings have since been viewed as harmful.
Feminist therapists seem to have two camps when it comes to issues of boundaries, including touch. The more vocal, politically and professionally active faction focuses on issues of power, male dominance, sexuality, and oppressive patriarchal values. Predictably, they take a strong stance against most boundary crossings and dual relationships and advocate for the protection of, what they see as, vulnerable female clients sexually exploited by powerful male therapists.
Alyn describes a kind of touch hierarchy in which it is more likely for a person of higher status to touch someone of lower status than the converse. In this context any touch, even non-sexual touch by male therapists of women clients is seen as disempowering and therefore harmful to women.
The much less vocal faction of feminist therapy focuses on essential issues of inclusion, connection, mutuality, self-disclosure, and equality. The focus of these writers, as manifested in the important work of Greenspan and some contributions by The Stone Institute and The Feminist Therapy Institute , relate how healing often entails tearing down rigid, arbitrary, professional boundaries rather than erecting them.
Along these lines, appropriate touch, which is congruent with the therapist-client relationship, is seen as potentially healing. In their survey of therapists, Pope, Tabachnick and Keith-Spiegel report that therapists of differing theoretical orientations have very different beliefs about the effect and practice of touching clients.
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While most psychodynamic therapists thought touch could be easily misunderstood, humanistic therapists did not share this view. Milakovitch compares therapists who touch and those who do not touch. The following are some of his findings:. However, many writers have struggled with mapping the boundaries between sexual and non-sexual touch in therapy. Some focus on the areas touched i. Others focus on whether the intent is to sexually arouse the client, oneself, or not. Yet others attempt to differentiate between overt vs. Part of the problem with differentiating sexual and non-sexual touch in therapy stems from the lack of differentiation between sexual feeling and sexual activity.
Lazarus and Zur , Smith et al, , like many other writers, emphasize that the problem of such lack of differentiation is rooted in insufficient professional education. Such lack of education undoubtedly exacerbates the problem, resulting in untrained therapists who tend to deny difficult or unacceptable feelings in a process, which is likely to increase their vulnerability to violate their clients.
Historically, there has been a centuries-long profound split between body and mind in Western thought and in psychotherapy in general. It has just been in the last twenty-five years that the correspondence between physiological and psychological processes has found form in somatically-based psychotherapies Young, C.
Healthy functioning, and dysfunction in any part of the organismic continuum will affect the whole system Caldwell, Body psychotherapy assists people in healing and developing not only through the use of verbal interventions, but also through guiding them to a deeper awareness of their bodily sensations, images, behavior and feelings.
There are many approaches to body psychotherapy just as there are multiple approaches in psychotherapy and a variety of techniques are employed.
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Techniques common to most body-centered psychotherapies include attention to somatic awareness, breath, movement, imagery, and touch which can vary from deep manipulation used to release body blocks to supportive hugs or holding. Humanistic, Existential and Gestalt psychology, as well as dance and movement therapy, family therapy, systems theory, biology, and Far Eastern philosophy have all contributed to body psychotherapy approaches.
For example, Reichian bioenergetics, Rolfing, and hatha yoga once seemed worlds apart. Now with the help of this new paradigm, we can now see how each can augment and make more effective the practice of the others. The elaboration of this idea has created a worldwide community whose members, remaining typically grounded in their own unique contexts of skill and service, profit from the contributions of the others.
The word itself derives from the ancient Greek soma, once used to describe the whole person. The History of Body Psychotherapy Surprisingly, it was Freud who laid the groundwork for body psychotherapy, as he identified the body and body processes as the foundation of psychological states Caldwell, He described the ego as being first and foremost a body ego, and he taught that the physical blocking or discharge of energy is essential in the formation of psychological disorders. He subsequently became fascinated with verbal analysis and the only aspect of his somatic perspective that remained a part of his focus was his technique of working with his clients as they lay on a couch.
He felt this position relaxed tense musculature and regressed clients to earlier states of development by lowering their defenses. Ferenczi, originally trained in the psychoanalytic model, at one point spoke out as a proponent of hugging, holding, kissing and non-erotic fondling of clients, believing that the use of such therapeutic touch would provide corrective parenting to clients with early injuries.
Initially, Freud was supportive of his experiential experiments but withdrew his support when he became aware that Ferenczi had become sexually and romantically involved with more than one of his clients. Ferenczi refused to discontinue his use of touch and was subsequently expelled from the ranks of orthodox psychoanalysis Fosshage, Reichian Therapy Wilhelm Reich, a student of Freud, is often referred to as the grandfather of body-oriented psychotherapy, however, a long history of body-oriented approaches to healing, predate his work.
Eiden, His development of character analysis correlated psychological and physical patterns. This represented a radical departure from the rigid tenants of traditional psychoanalysis by initiating direct physical contact with his clients, for which he was censured and eventually excommunicated from the psychoanalytic community Older, Bioenergetics Lowen studied with Reich, but focused on the larger realm of pure feelings instead of emphasizing concerns with orgasmic performance as Reich had Lowen, Reichians work with the hypothesis that there is one, fundamental energy in the human body whether it manifests itself in psychic phenomena or in somatic motion.
Both Reich and Lowen believed that organistic potency was a criterion for cure, but Lowen included the ability to express all emotion fully. To this end, he developed exercises to help the client magnify and release tensions in the body, freeing blocked emotions. He used pressure on muscles, expressive exercises, breath work, and worked with dreams, memories and emotions, which might emerge from the unconscious as a result of the bodywork Lowen, Stanley Keleman broke from mainstream bioenergetics in his articulation of how movement creates the body and the body creates movement.
He works with breath, movement and sound as he examines the vibratory processes of the body down to the cellular level. He believes that the quality of this pulsation shapes our physical form. He seeks to reestablish charge, formation, and discharge in a process that develops healthy tissue and holistically healthy individuals. There is more focus on how a person blocks fear, anger or painful emotions rather than on content. He uses visual techniques to open the ability to access deep, spontaneous emotion and to choose appropriate goals, increasing self-direction, control and significance in the life of his students.
For Kelley, the focus is on education and growth. Most Radix work is done in groups Caldwell, The SE modality is based on the observation that wild prey animals, though threatened routinely, are rarely traumatized. Animals in the wild, according to SE theory, utilize innate mechanisms to regulate and discharge the high levels of energy arousal associated with defensive survival behaviors. According to the Foundation for Human Enrichment Somatic Experiencing is not considered as a form of psychotherapy, it stands on its own as an approach to healing trauma.
The Foundation is clear that SE is neither a psychotherapy nor a bodywork technique, but lends itself well to being integrated into these and other treatment modalities. Focusing The term focusing was popularized by Dr. Focusing refers to the simple matter of holding an open, non-judging attention something which is directly experienced but is not yet in words. The Focusing technique that can be successfully used in any kind of therapeutic situation, including peer-to-peer sessions Gendline, Keleman , He describes as follows:.
Formative psychology, is based in the evolutionary process in which life continually forms the next series of shapes, from birth through maturity to old age. At conception each person is given a biological and emotional inheritance, but it is through voluntary effort that a human fulfills the potential for forming a personal life.
Form gives rise to feeling. When individual identity is grounded in somatic reality, we can say: I know who I am by how I experience myself. Formative psychology gives a philosophy and method of how to work with our life. We learn to regenerate our emotional and instinctual vitality, to inhabit our body, and to incorporate our excitement and emotional aliveness. The goal of formative practice is to use daily life to practice being present and to create an adult self and reality.
I proceed from the premise that we are each conceived as an adult and that we grow the adults we are meant to be. Additional approaches to body psychotherapy Other pioneers in the field have blended disciplines to form their work. New forms of body-centered psychotherapy are evolving which apply softer techniques and less analytical methodology.
These forms use less exploitive, stressful postures, invasive touching, or breathing to extreme states. There is less of a focus on analysis as the client takes more responsibility for finding meaning in the communication from their body voice. This is a foreign concept to most Western traditionally trained practitioners but ancient and alternative healing methods refer to a force of energy that animates the entire organism.
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The limbic system, often referred to as the part of the brain that controls emotions, has forty times more neuropeptide receptors than other parts of the brain. Blood flow is closely regulated by emotional peptides, which signal receptors on blood vessel walls to constrict or dilate, and so influence the amount and velocity of blood flowing through them from moment to moment.
The brain requires a plentiful source of glucose in order for the neurons and glial cells to perform their function. When emotions are blocked due to denial, repression, or trauma, blood flow can become chronically constricted, depriving the frontal cortex, as well as other organs, of vital nourishment. This can cause one to feel foggy and less alert, limited in awareness, with diminished ability to facilitate the body-mind conversation in order to make conscious decisions that alter physiology or behavior.
Read them alone. In a dimly lit room. Or better yet, read them out loud to your significant other.
Hence, one becomes stuck repeating old patterns of emotion and behavior. The nervous system learns from pleasure, as well as pain. Each time we make sense of new information, the brain rewards us by releasing endorphins and other pleasure-producing petrochemicals. Touch is a very sophisticated language that is communicated through our skin, both receiving and giving information. It bypasses words and rational concepts housed in the neocortical brain Caldwell, We could say that CRF is the peptide of negative expectations, since it may have been stimulated by negative experiences in childhood.
Animal studies show that monkey babies deprived of maternal nurturing, neglected or abused have high levels of CRF. Feeling is healed through somatic experience because our minds and our feelings reside in our bodies. She asserts that we are literally able to consciously and intentionally intervene at the level of our molecules, making significant changes in our physiology, releasing certain biochemicals into our systems. The well-known tools of traditional psychotherapeutic trade, such as dreams and the symbolic meaning of words, as well as touch do, in fact, access the psychosomatic network.
There is no doubt that these traditional tools have their place and their effectiveness but it is necessary to acknowledge other effective points of entry as well: the skin, spinal cord, and organs are all nodal points of entry into the system. The deepest oldest messages are stored and must be accessed through the body. Multiple factors effect the decision making process in forming a treatment plan that includes touch. It is crucial to address the specific touch experiences of special populations. Survivors of Childhood Trauma The use of touch with survivors of childhood trauma has been much debated.
However the clinically appropriate and ethical use of touch with survivors of childhood abuse can be invaluable in helping them heal and recover from their traumatic experiences Hunter, Struve, Due to the nature of their original injuries, many of these clients are likely to feel intense vulnerability at the suggestion of touch in the intimate setting of psychotherapy.
There is the possibility that touch used with clients who are survivors of childhood trauma may recreate, or evoke, previous client-experienced dynamics of submission and victimization, entrapment, anger, fear, vulnerability and feelings of worthlessness.
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