There are generally considered to be two main theoretical bases for psychotherapy.

Psychoanalytic – based off of the work of Sigmund Freud, and has evolved since the late 1800s. The underlying idea is that there is an unconscious part of everyone’s mind that has a powerful and meaningful effect on our thoughts and everyday actions. By trying to examine the unconscious, a person can better understand their life and gain more control over the things they think, feel and do.

Cognitive Behavioral – focuses more on the present, accessible thoughts and behaviors of people rather than the subconscious and seeks to address them directly in order to make positive change.

Body Psychotherapy has its roots under the Psychoanalytic work of Sigmund Freud. It is generally understood that the broader concepts of body psychotherapy, like "energy" in the body, are similar to the "energy" concepts of Eastern medicines and philosophies (yoga, acupuncture, tai chi chuan, etc.) and also have connections with other "body therapies" (like massage, Alexander technique, Feldenkrais method, Rolfing, etc.).

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.

Body psychotherapy is one modality used in a multi-modal approach to treating psychological trauma, particularly PTSD and C-PTSD.

Approximately 11 million people in the United States suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD occurs when an individual experiences an extremely stressful event such as a war, natural disaster, or automobile accident.

Sufferers experience flashbacks, extreme anxiety, and fear to the point where they are unable to function normally in their daily lives. PTSD is usually treated with anti-depressant (Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro, Paxil, Celexa) and anti-anxiety (Klonopin, Ativan, Xanax) medications, along with cognitive behavioral therapy aimed at changing thoughts, behaviors, and facing and understanding fears. Diagnosis is made after symptoms persist for six months or longer.

There are many different types of psychotherapy, each with a different approach. The type of psychotherapy used will depend on each individual’s situation and needs.

Body Psychotherapy's approach is a holistic one, taking body, self and soul as inseparable aspects of our being human. It focuses on the somatic, emotional, social, and spiritual energetic experience, and the way these are expressed in relationships through words and embodiment.

Body Psychotherapy utilizes multiple approaches to work with patients. Body Psychotherapy borrows from the arts and sciences in order to treat patients. The techniques of body psychotherapy include physical touch as well as movement and breathing exercises. Mental and physical approaches are considered equal. The combination of mental and physical practices results in a holistic approach. 

Pros for this therapy

While body psychotherapy is ready and willing to work with most client groups, it is perhaps especially appropriate for two groups: those whose primary experience is already bodily, proprioceptive – people who ‘live in their bodies’ – and whom the therapist must meet there if useful work is to take place; and, on the other hand, those who ‘live in their heads’, whose primary experience is mental, cognitive – and whose bodies are crying out to be recognized and valued and communicated with. Clearly these two groups must be approached very differently (and many in the second group may shy away from it), but body psychotherapy offers a particular gift to each.

Cons for this therapy

Body psychotherapy is perhaps contraindicated for people in a state of psychosis or near-psychosis, for whom the increase of charge which it facilitates might be overwhelming. Having said that, however, skilled body practitioners may be able to ‘titrate’ the increased charge while working to strengthen the client’s defenses and their ability to manage stimuli (Levine 1997; Rothschild 2000). Reich wrote an extensive case history of work along these lines with a schizophrenic client (Reich [1950] 1972: 399ff ). Similarly, it is often said that bodywork would be unsuitable for abuse survivors, since it would tend to retraumatize them. Again, this may apply only to unskilled body psychotherapy and there are several recent approaches specifically aimed at post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including abuse survivors.

Integrative Body Psychotherapy (IBP) was founded by Dr. Jack Lee Rosenberg, further developed with Diana Asay, a Jungian Analyst, and Dr. Marjorie Rand, and formally presented to the public as a new therapeutic approach in their book, Body, Self and Soul - Sustaining Integration (1985).

Rosenberg first brought his mind-body psychology to dentists in the early 1960s, later he brought body-mind integration to psychotherapists and counselors.

Rosenberg has integrated the effective aspects of Psychoanalysis, Object Relations Theory, Gestalt therapy, Reichian Therapy, Self Psychology, Bioenergetics (Bioenergetic Analysis), Transpersonal Psychotherapy, Yoga and Eastern theories and practices. He synthesized the best of these various approaches with his own personal perspective and created a highly effective implementation for psychotherapy. Jack Rosenberg became a training therapist and board member at the Gestalt Institute of Psychotherapy, San Francisco (1968–1976). As a trainer at the Gestalt Institute in San Francisco for nine years, he first called his work Gestalt Body Psychotherapy (GBT) and only in the 1980s "Integrative Body Psychotherapy" after starting to write "Body, Self and Soul - Sustaining Integration" in 1979.

Body psychotherapy is a type of psychotherapy. 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).

Body psychotherapy addresses the body and the mind as a whole, with emphasis on the complex reciprocal relationships within the body and the mind. It includes an awareness of the patient's process as manifested in their body, specifically in body language, emotional expression, affect, proxemics, psychosomatics, infant development, somatic resonance, and sexuality

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Review Date: 
February 15, 2012