BA is grounded in an understanding of the importance of the body—and the energetic underpinnings of body and mind—to psychological development and emotional health. The approach includes development of insight/understanding, expression of feelings and re-establishment of energy flow in the body.
BA practitioners focus on the psychological issues each person possesses and the way those issues are manifested in the body. Practitioners believe that through verbal conversation and physical exercises the patient will be able to evoke positive change.
BA practitioners address conflicts through emotional, cognitive, spiritual, and physical levels. BA focuses on the whole individual.
Various psychotherapies have been used to treat many conditions including mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder, Personality disorders, eating disorders, anxiety disorders, and addictions. The problems addressed are psychological in nature and of no specific kind or degree, but rather depend on the specialty of the practitioner.
Psychotherapies are also used to treat people who may not have a diagnosed mental illness, but need help coping with some kind of life stressor, such as stress from work or family, dealing with disease or health problems, or any kind of major life change, such as the death of a parent, divorce or personal trauma.
BA is useful in treating:
- Other personality disorders
- Conflicts at a cognitive, emotional, physical and spiritual level
In addition to the analysis of history, dreams, thoughts and beliefs, Bioenergetic therapists utilize movement, breathing, stress positions and self-expressive exercises to work with the holding patterns in the body.
There are many ways of working with the body and techniques can be powerful or gentle depending on the need. For instance, expressive exercises such as rhythmic kicking on a mattress or hitting a mattress with a tennis racket can be used to open breathing, release tension and develop a greater capacity to both contain and express feeling. "Grounding" (an exercise that stretches the legs and opens breathing and feeling) helps a client better sense his or her legs and the ground, promoting a sense of security. Stress positions such as the "bow" (standing upright, with knees slightly bent, weight on the center to outside of the feet, belly relaxed, arch back and gently push fists into the lower back, breathing naturally) help a client to sense and gradually open blocked areas.
BA is practiced as both individual and group psychotherapy.
Pros for this therapy
The body work and the "mind" work (analysis) complement and deepen each other. The body work opens feelings so they can be understood and integrated into the mature adult self. In turn, the analytic work provides insight that allows more relaxation, feeling and integration in the body. Both body work and analysis take place in the safety of a growing, evolving therapeutic relationship.
Cons for this therapy
Not every patient will respond to bioenergetic analysis, as different approaches and medication may be necessary.
Bioenergetic Analysis was developed by Alexander Lowen, M.D. as a modification and extension of Wilhelm Reich's character analytic technique of vegetotherapy.
Lowen studied under Reich while he was in America in the 40s. Lowen became a reichian therapist as a result of this study. Over time he found the need to expand the treatment types of reichian therapy to physical approaches. Lowen began to have patients stand up and perform physical exercises. He began to refer to his new techniques as bioenergetic analysis. Lowen eventually founded the International Institute for Bionerergetic Analysis in the 1950s.
BA has continued to grow and evolve over time. Today’s BA practitioners believe that blocks to emotions and wellness form psychosomatically. The body serves as a conduit for the minds problems.
Bioenergetic Analysis (BA) is a form of body psychotherapy (body-oriented Reichian psychotherapy) that combines psychological analysis, active work with the body and relational therapeutic work. Psychotherapy is a general term referring to therapeutic interaction or treatment contracted between a trained professional and a client or patient; family, couple or group. The problems addressed are psychological in nature and of no specific kind or degree, but rather depend on the specialty of the practitioner.
Psychotherapy aims to increase the individual's sense of his/her own well-being. Psychotherapists employ a range of techniques based on experiential relationship building, dialog, communication and behavior change that are designed to improve the mental health of a client or patient, or to improve group relationships (such as in a family).
BA places a strong focus on the body in a holistic manner. Proponents of BA see the mind and body as important piece of the unified whole. The body serves as a conduit for the minds problems. Therapists using BA will use talk as well as physical therapy in order to help people move closer to their desired goals. In a normal session, the therapist and patient may work on breathing techniques or chronic muscular tension. This involves performing a variety of exercises and movements in order to bring about positive change. BA proponents believe that by facilitating change in the body, there will be a correlated improvement in the mind.