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.

Characteranalytic Vegetotherapy, which lies under the field of psychotherapy, relies on a theory of stored emotions, or affects, where emotions build tensions in the structure of the body. This tension can be seen in shallow or restricted breathing, posture, facial expression or muscular stress, particularly in the circular muscles, and low libido (good sexual functioning and unrestricted, natural breathing are seen as evidence of recovery).

Characteranalytic Vegetotherapy is a form of psychotherapy. 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.

Characteranalytic Vegetotherapy can be used to treat the full range of emotional symptoms and relationship problems. Serious conditions such as depression, schizophrenia, panic disorder, and ADHD can often be treated without resorting to medications.

The practice of vegetotherapy involves the analyst asking the patient to physically simulate the bodily effects of strong emotions. The principal technique is asking the patient to remove outer clothing, lie down on a sheet-covered bed in the doctor's office, and breathe deeply and rhythmically. An additional technique is to palpate or tickle areas of muscular tension[ ("body armor"). This activity and stimulation eventually causes the patient to experience the simulated emotions, thus (theoretically) releasing emotions pent up inside both the body and the psyche (compare with Primal Therapy). Screaming usually occurs, and vomiting can occur in some patients.

The catharsis of emotive expression breaks down the cathexis of stored emotions. While experiencing a simulated emotional state, the patient may reflect on past experiences which should have caused that emotion, but where the emotion has not been fully resolved. These emotions are described as stored emotions, and in Reichian analysis are seen as manifesting in the body.

Pros for this therapy

Psychotherapy can help you make dramatic changes in your life. Psychotherapy seeks to discover and address the underlying causes of psychological issues. Psychotherapy allows you to explore your symptoms and defenses in a constructive manner. Psychotherapy is a great tool to lead you to awareness, which can allow you to make the dramatic changes that will help you to move forward.

Characteranalytic Vegetotherapy can help patients to relax and release their stored up tension.

Cons for this therapy

There are very few cons for psychotherapy, however patients who are in an acute psychotic state or severely depressed and suicidal may need hospitalization and medication to be initially stabilized. Patients with anorexia, severe personality disorders, or other organic brain diseases such as schizophrenia may need medical attention as well. All courses of psychotherapy should be supervised by a psychiatrist as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. 

Characteranalytic Vegetotherapy can be uncomfortable for patients who feel embarrassed to remove outer clothing and lay on a bed with a therapist present. Patients should carefully choose a therapist whom they trust. 

Psychoanalysis was perhaps the first specific school of psychotherapy, developed by Sigmund Freud and others through the early 20th century. Trained as a neurologist, Freud began focusing on problems that appeared to have no discernible organic basis, and theorized that they had psychological causes originating in childhood experiences and the unconscious mind. Techniques such as dream interpretation, free association, transference and analysis of the id, ego and superego were developed.

Behaviorism developed in the 1920s, and behavior modification as a therapy became popularized in the 1950s and 1960s. Notable contributors were Joseph Wolpe in South Africa, M.B. Shipiro and Hans Eysenck in Britain, and John B. Watson and B.F. Skinner in the United States. Behavioral therapy approaches relied on principles of operant conditioning, classical conditioning and social learning theory to bring about therapeutic change in observable symptoms. The approach became commonly used for phobias, as well as other disorders.

During the 1950s, Albert Ellis originated Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). A few years later, psychiatrist Aaron T. Beck developed a form of psychotherapy known as cognitive therapy. Both of these generally included relatively short, structured and present-focused therapy aimed at identifying and changing a person's beliefs, appraisals and reaction-patterns, by contrast with the more long-lasting insight-based approach of psychodynamic or humanistic therapies. Cognitive and behavioral therapy approaches were combined and grouped under the heading and umbrella-term Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in the 1970s. Many approaches within CBT are oriented towards active/directive collaborative empiricism and mapping, assessing and modifying clients core beliefs and dysfunctional schemas. These approaches gained widespread acceptance as a primary treatment for numerous disorders. A "third wave" of cognitive and behavioral therapies developed, including Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Dialectical behavior therapy, which expanded the concepts to other disorders and/or added novel components and mindfulness exercises. Counseling methods developed, including solution-focused therapy and systemic. During the 1960s and 1970s Eugene Heimler, after training in the new discipline of psychiatric social work, developed Heimler method of Human Social Functioning, a methodology based on the principle that frustration is the potential to human flourishing.

Postmodern psychotherapies such as Narrative Therapy and Coherence Therapy did not impose definitions of mental health and illness, but rather saw the goal of therapy as something constructed by the client and therapist in a social context. Systems Therapy also developed, which focuses on family and group dynamics—and Transpersonal psychology, which focuses on the spiritual facet of human experience. Other important orientations developed in the last three decades include Feminist therapy, Brief therapy, Somatic Psychology, Expressive therapy, applied Positive psychology and the Human Givens approach which is building on the best of what has gone before.

Characteranalytic vegetotherapy came about as a result of the work of Wilhelm Reich. Reich was an Austrian-American psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, known as one of the most radical figures in the history of psychiatry. The basic and founding text of characteranalytic vegetotherapy is Reich's Psychischer Kontakt und vegetative Stroemung, later included in the enlarged edition of Reich's Character Analysis.

Characteranalytic Vegetotherapy is a form of Reichian psychotherapy that involves the physical manifestations of emotions. 

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).

Review Date: 
February 15, 2012