Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Bodymind?

The inseparable unity and synergy between body and mind is at the heart of the „Bodymind” concept. This concept claims that our body is „living memory” and carries in it the signs and traces of our personal life experience as well as our familial heritage. A basic premis of the bodymind concept is that there exists a fundamental connection in the world, driven by energy and consciousness.

What is Integration?

Defined as the linkage of differentiated components of a system, integration, is viewed as the core mechanism in the cultivation of more well-being.

The integration of body experiences : There is general agreement that self-organisation initially entails the integration of body-related experiences, defining the physical boundaries of self and world. Once the physical self has been established, social exchanges, the identifications of social boundaries, and the identifications of social causality become central self-functions!

For the brain, integration means that separated areas with their unique functions, in the skull and throughout the body, become linked to each other through synaptic connections. These integrated linkages enable more intricate functions to emerge—such as insight, empathy, intuition, and morality. A result of integration is kindness, resilience, and health.

In an individual’s mind, integration involves the linkage of separate aspects of mental processes to each other, such as thought with feeling, bodily sensation with logic.

Chaos and rigidity arise when integration is blocked. A healthy amount of structure (but not too much which leads to rigidity) plus a healthy amount of spontaneity (but, again, not too much which leads to chaos).

Part of integration is learning how to maintain or re-establish inner harmony when interacting no longer in a chaotic or rigid, but in a balanced way with the outside world. In order to re-establish harmony, we often need to release blocked energy. For example, held-up (upward) energy is part of physical inflation, pride and controlled thinking and our work with this blockage is to help in a surrender of the breath, feelings and tissues.

The integration of polarities : left brain — right brain, inputs — outputs, male — female, power — receptivity.

At a transpersonal level, integration is the coming together of the ego and the Dynamic Ground of the Unconscious. Integration is the point at which the ego becomes fully sighted with the eyes of Spirit.

What is Bodymind Integration?

  • “Bodymind Integration” as taught and practiced at IBI is the result of a rich synthesis of many influences, clinical and theoretical sources. It is not an eclectic usage of these sources. In agreement with Jim Kepner, PhD we believe that Bodymind work with a whole person requires an “integrated approach” – addressing body and mind sumultaneous and as a unit – and not a singular, alternate or layered approach.

  • Central to “Bodymind Integration” as taught and practiced at IBI, is the view that body and mind are inseparable and do not stand in a causal relationship with “each other” since they are dimensions of the same phenomena. Thus holistic psychocorporal work with awareness and consciousness is always simultaneous work with body expression, movement and energy. And conversely work with the body, including deep work with breathing and myofascia, is also simultaneous work with awareness and consciousness.

  • “Bodymind Integration” treats embodiment as an intrinsic and important feature of human existence.  It re-associates the spirit with the body in order to more deeply appreciate life; It helps dissociated parts of our spirit that have been fragmented from our body back into our body, re-united, re-associated.
  • In “Bodymind Integration”, the focus of attention is on intrinsic health or the „essential self”; pathology occurs as a consequence of the loss of connection with the essential self.
  • “Bodymind Integration” is a resource-oriented approach. It emphasizes helping clients establish connection to the parts of self that are already organized, coherent and functional with interest, curiosity and exploration.  It tries to work inwards from that point to the more defended, disorganized, ignored, dysfunctional or excluded aspects of a person’s being, without however making these elements the primary focus of therapy or becoming a regressive model.
  • The practice of Bodymind Integration focusses on embodied, current experience; This experience can be verbalised in a descriptive manner;

  • In “Bodymind Integration,” as practiced and taught at IBI, a „somatic mindfulness” is encouraged which includes the detailed moment-by-moment tracking of sensations, feelings, emotions and impulses to movement, as well as the use of charging and discharging of energy through the working through and completion of an „natural energetic cycle”

    • “Bodymind Integration” is practiced in relationship with the therapist; the work is both interpersonal and intrapersonal; it is a mutual enterprise of therapist and client, that is done with curiosity; both therapist and client change through the experience; there is no set end goal. Given an appropriate climate, individuals discover their own process of healing and self-regulation.
    • As a coaching, counseling, self development and body psychotherapeutic approach it is a powerful way of making a profound and authentic contact with the Self in order to restore and promote energy balance, cognitive understanding, insight and equilibrium. The therapeutic alliance in “Bodymind Integration” is the powerful joining of forces which energizes and supports the long, difficult, and frequently painful work of life changing healing & transformation. The conception of the practitioner here is not of a disinterested observer-technician but of a fully alive human companion for the client.

    What is Psychotherapy

    Psychotherapy is a general term referring to therapeutic interaction or treatment contracted between a qualified mental health professional and a client, patient, family, couple, or group. The problems addressed are psychological in nature and can vary in terms of their causes, influences, triggers, and potential resolutions. Accurate assessment of these and other variables depends on the practitioner’s capability and can change or evolve as the practitioner acquires experience, knowledge, and insight.

    The purpose of psychotherapy is the exploration of thoughts, feelings and behavior for the purpose of problem solving or achieving higher levels of functioning. Psychotherapy also aims to increase the individual’s sense of his/her own well-being. Psychotherapists employ a range of techniques based on experiential relationship building, dialogue, 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).

    Psychotherapy may be legally regulated, voluntarily regulated or unregulated, depending on the jurisdiction. Requirements of these professions vary, and often require graduate school and supervised clinical experience. Psychotherapy in Europe is increasingly seen as an independent profession, rather than restricted to psychologists and psychiatrists as stipulated in some countries.

    What is Body-Oriented Psychotherapy?

    Body-oriented psychotherapy, also called body-psychotherapy or somatic psychotherapy, is an approach to psychotherapy which applies basic principles of somatic psychology It assumes that there is no hierarchical relationship between mind and body, between psyche and soma. They are both equally functioning and interactive aspects of the whole. Body-oriented psychotherapy is based on a model of the person’s development; a theory of personality; hypotheses about the development of disorders and abnormalities, as well as a rich variety of diagnostic and therapeutic techniques used within the context of a therapeutic relationship. The various forms of body-oriented psychotherapy take the body and its energetic processes as a starting point in their approach to the person. Today there is a rich scientific basis on an explicit theory that supports practical application. A wide variety of techniques using touch, movement and breathing can be used depending on the therapist’s specialization. Therefore, from body-centered psychotherapy there is a link with some forms of somatic bodywork, and some complementary medical practices, but while these forms can also use touch, movement and breathing, they are different from body-centered psychotherapy. The body-oriented practices are supported by conversation. The aim is to solve blockages in the life energy that can cause many physical and psychological problems.

    What is the work of a Body-Oriented Psychotherapist?

    The Body Oriented Psychotherapist works directly or indirectly with the person as an essential embodiment of mental, emotional, social and spiritual life. He / she encourages both inner self-regulating processes and the accurate perception of external reality. Through his / her work, the body-oriented psychotherapist makes it possible to raise awareness, recognize and integrate alienated aspects of the person as parts of the self. To facilitate this transition from alienation to integration and wholeness, the body-oriented psychotherapist should have the following qualities: 1. Intuitive awareness and reflective insight into healthy human development. 2. Knowledge of different patterns of unresolved childhood conflicts with their specific chronic divisions in body and mind. 3. The ability to maintain a consistent frame of reference and a differentiated sensitivity to the interrelation of: (a) Signals in the organism indicating vegetative flow, muscular hypertension and hypotension. And: (b) The phenomena of psychodynamic processes of transmission, countertransference, projection, defensive regression, creative regression and various forms of resistance.

    What is Psychomotor Therapy?

    Psychomotor therapy (PMT) is defined as an experience-oriented treatment method that takes physicality and movement as a starting point for its approach, with a view to achieving concretely formulated psychosocial goals in patients with mental disorders. The therapeutic offer is based on a holistic view of man that starts from the unity of body and mind. Psychomotor Therapy is applied at IBI in the context of Psychotherapy. In Flanders, Psychomotor Therapy has been embedded in Mental Health Care since 1965. There is a Masters Training at Leuven University. PMT is theoretically well founded and scientific research is carried out. Therapists at this level have the knowledge to evaluate the results of the therapy conducted. The professional association in Flanders is the VVPMT.

    What is the difference between the commonly used terms "bodywork", "emotional bodywork", "body-oriented therapy" or "psychotherapy"?

    Bodywork is a collective name for a number of therapeutic techniques in which the own physical experience and externally observable body phenomena are the starting point of the growth process or the therapeutic process. Bodywork is used in various contexts, such as the framework of personal growth, healing, medicine, psychotherapy. Current techniques of bodywork such as Reichian bodywork, bioenergetics, rebirthing and postural integration use breath, movement, sound, manual manipulation of the body, and meditation to initiate a process of awareness and processing, to achieve relaxation, mobility, improve energy and blood flow, treat pain and stiffness, correct posture and balance, and relieve chronic patterns of muscle tension. In such a process, people usually become much more aware of their bodies and learn to express feelings more easily. Some forms of bodywork can complement or provide an alternative to other forms of treatment such as physiotherapy, ostheopathy, chiropractic, acupuncture and / or massage therapy, but it is also true that these forms all use bodywork. An essential question is whether the effects of bodywork are scientifically researched enough. One can only speak of therapy if there is targeted and systematic work that can be scientifically verified. Some forms of bodywork, have had little or no scientific and independently controlled testing, nor are their practitioners subject to rigorous quality requirements.

    Which interventions can be used in body-oriented psychotherapy?

    We can distinguish 4 types of bodywork interventions within body-oriented psychotherapy:

    Body awareness interventions are designed to help you stay with the experience in your body. The focus is on the areas of muscle tension, posture, breathing patterns, and the ways in which physical and emotional tensions, behavioral patterns, and mental states are linked. Methods to increase body awareness can be suggested and encouraged.

    Physical interventions are used to bring more liveliness and movement into your body. These movement experiences can target certain areas of your body that exhibit chronic muscle tension, poor flow, lower levels of consciousness, or limited movement. They may include stretching exercises to improve the tone of your muscles, breathing skills to recharge your body or create states of relaxation, or stress reduction agents to increase the range of states you are able to experience. The purpose of these interventions is to increase your energy, charge, and feeling, by relieving chronic muscular tension and increasing the capacity for movement and self-expression.

    Targeted Expression: Difficult or traumatic material from your past is sometimes the focus of therapeutic work, and loosening, understanding, and integrating these feelings through procedures that promote emotional expression can be a therapeutic goal. To help you move towards this goal, the therapist may suggest targeted experiences in emotional expression. You may be asked to participate in body movements, exercises, and experiences that can deepen emotional expression and help clarify these feelings. In turn, these experiences are designed to support an expanded range of feelings and a deepening of emotional awareness.

    Touch is sometimes used to bring awareness to the body, to release chronic muscle tension, to support you in releasing traumatic material from your past, or to help you make new movements that are beyond the usual limited range of motion fall. The guidelines for use of touch include asking for your consent when touched, respecting your personal limits and preferences in using touch, and staying within the guidelines imposed by the Therapeutic Association or Recognition Committee of the therapist regarding the use of touch.

    Who Can Benefit From Body-Oriented Psychotherapy?

    Anyone who wants to grow and is willing to work for that growth to:

    • feel alive,
    • love deeply and well,
    • find meaning and meaning in life,
    • promote self-esteem,
    • experience pleasure and joy. 

    Which problems are eligible for body-oriented psychotherapy?

    See all problems and themes addressed in integrative psychotherapie +

    What are the possible Effects of Bodywork in Body-Oriented Psychotherapy?

    The effects of using bodywork as part of your therapeutic approach are very individual and will depend on which procedures you choose to use, as well as on the nature of the therapeutic problem that is given attention. A) Like other forms of therapy, body-oriented psychotherapy can increase awareness of the past and present. These emotional experiences associated with past trauma intensify. Bodywork can also make you aware of existing muscular tension patterns and physical limitations. While such heightened awareness is intended to help you resolve emotional conflicts, as with other forms of psychotherapy, there may be times during which feelings may be unpleasant or intense. A body-centered psychotherapist will help you understand and place these experiences and help you target and integrate them. B) Body-oriented psychotherapy can result in an increase in feelings towards friends, acquaintances, colleagues, or the therapist. These feelings can be either positive or negative and are connected to established patterns of emotional connection and attachment as well as what is happening in the present. The interpersonal dimension of the therapeutic part of the process can be better understood and new, more satisfying ways of relationship can be achieved. C) Body-centered psychotherapy involves exploration of the established boundaries around self-experiences – the boundaries of the body that are felt when touch is applied, the boundaries of the emotional self that are stimulated when making contact with others, and the interpersonal boundaries that are influenced when deep emotional themes are shared with others. The goals of body-centered psychotherapy include an exploration of how these boundaries create and maintain patterns in the experience of the self and in relationships. From this exploration, changes can be encouraged that encourage greater self-development and well-being.

    What about Transpersonal experience?

    Approaches to personal development such as the Transpersonal transcendent psychology represent an expansion of consciousness into a vision of an expanded world that contains the spiritual dimension. Do they not require a “quality of being” on the part of the practitioners / counselors that is so much wider than what they can expect in the theoretical context of a psychotherapy?

    The Transpersonal cannot be reduced to an approach to personal growth. Rather, it is about a frame of mind that questions the real in an interdisciplinary way. Transpersonal psychology is an integrative psychology. The psychotherapists, psychoanalysts, and practitioners who claim this framework may use original and / or more classical theories and techniques: subject of psychoanalysis or subject of humanistic psychology. Thus, the structuring of their intervention depends equally on their basic education … To summarize, what brings these interveners together is their affirmation of the existence on the psychological level of an instance that transcends the ego, as well as that many of them study and use altered states of consciousness. Regarding the “quality of being” of the facilitator, it goes without saying that although she is most wanted, she is not guaranteed on the mere basis of belonging to a Transpersonal group. The same precautionary measures are imperative when choosing a psychotherapist … Whatever his framework!

    Don't internships and groups in personal development risk provoking dependence?

    As with any type of relationship, in the context of a relationship to a group or a psychotherapist, there are moments of dependence, where the person finds the necessary security and the necessary resources to learn to become autonomous, which are totally justified and upbuilding! Having said this, it also seems important to warn participants in a group of personal development about the “group illusion”: groups are like laboratories, and it requires caution to imagine that all the positive things one can experience in a group can easily be transplanted in everyday life …

    How to make the right choice in the huge range of courses and activities regarding personal growth and therapy? What is the interface between personal development and psychotherapy?

    What distinguishes psychotherapy and an offer of personal development is not so much the methods used, but the type of contract that is concluded between the professional and the client. In the context of psychotherapy, a person explicitly asks for the help of another person, called a psychotherapist, to find clarity and provide an answer with regard to personal suffering and the problems that are encountered in life. The psychotherapist is committed to assisting the person and takes commitment and responsibility for this. The emphasis in psychotherapy is on the therapeutic relationship. In the context of personal development, the client’s demand is often more limited, especially over time. Usually this concerns a group work where the role of the relationship to the therapist is put into perspective by the relational dynamics among the participants.

    Are there fertilizing "bridges" between approaches to personal growth and psychotherapies?

    It is not uncommon that activities related to personal growth bring the participant into contact with a suffering that can be further elaborated in the context of psychotherapy. The two approaches complement and enrich each other. Psychotherapeutic work often allows for a more in-depth and personalized work, and is also appropriate for more “fragile” personalities. In general, groups of personal development offer a lot of exploration, enhancing the creativity, communication and expressive potential of everyone, but are not always the appropriate context to dig deeper into the impact and integration of touched dynamics. Here further guidance in a psychotherapeutic context than the process can help further. 

    How do I know if I ended up in a cult? Are there things to watch out for when choosing to do bodywork?

    Sects often use personal development as a selling point. It is recommended to always inquire whether the practitioner belongs to a professional association or to a recognized religious association or community when it comes to a “spiritual” intervener. Being a member of a professional association requires the practitioner to have some training, respect a code of ethics and preserve the quality of his work, in particular through supervision or peer review activities, in other words to behave like a responsible professional.

    What are the opportunities for continued therapy & supervision for therapists?

    We have noticed that body-oriented work has a unique attraction for professional (psycho) therapists. As a permanent personal education for professional therapists, body-oriented therapy / body-mind integration offers an opportunity to explore on a body level, themes that cannot be touched upon or solved in verbal therapy. The body-oriented therapist, in his use of body-oriented techniques, has a second language with which he / she can communicate with clients. This second language often focuses on pre-verbal experiences not achieved by traditional verbal therapies. When therapists learn to effectively deal with these personal themes in therapy, they are better equipped to identify and work with these themes in relationships with their own clients. Personal body-oriented continuing education prepares the therapist to descend to a deeper clinical level, and to understand how his / her own themes (countertransference) interact with the client and to identify and work with transference of the client with more clarity as a means rather than as a resistance. The increased ability to work with deeper clinical topics is an advantage of completing one’s own arsenal of resources.

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