What is body centered psychotherapy?

In body centered psychotherapy, both, the mind and the body are attended to and often but not always the primary focus is what is happening with a client’s body. The therapeutic process often uses verbal work but direct work with bodily movement, sound, touch and sensate experience is understood to be central to personal growth and change. The client learns through direct exploration and experience of the body as much as from insight. Hence any concern that brings a client into therapy will be explored bodily, emotionally and cognitively.

The approach considers all aspects of the self - cognitive, social, physical, emotional and spiritual need to be addressed and are most effectively addressed when including our somatic experiences and expression.

More recently such a theoretical stance has been supported by research in neuropsychology and neuroscience indicating that all our emotional, physical, social and spiritual ways of being are inextricably linked.

The grandfathers of this body centred approach were the analysts Groddeck, Ferenczi and Reich.(Cornell, 2008)

What is Radix Body Centered Psychotherapy? (Excerpt taken from Living Fully)

a. Some background
The Radix approach is rooted in the work of the psychiatrist and analyst, Wilhelm Reich. During the first half of this century Reich discovered relationships between body processes and emotional functioning that proved to be highly influential for the holistic movement that followed. He proposed that the body and mind are really one, and put forward the idea that the body is a ‘frozen’ history of our life experiences. He argued that ‘the body doesn’t lie’ and saw it as a direct route to unconscious material.

One of Reich’s important concepts was that the ‘life force’ or what he called ‘orgone energy’ flows through the body and that this flow may be blocked or limited in various places. This blocking impedes our full emotional experience and our ability to think clearly, as well as the mobility and health of our bodies.

In the 1970s, Dr. Charles Kelley developed this concept of the life force, which is basic to Radix work. Kelley renamed this energy the ‘radix’ (meaning root or source) and much of his work focused on the effects of the rhythm or ‘pulsation’ of the radix flow, contributing significantly to our understanding of emotional experience and expression.

Kelley’s work as an experimental psychologist enabled him to bring new insights to the theory and practice of Radix. As a psychologist he specialised in vision and taught the Bates method of vision improvement without glasses. He conducted research into the relationship between emotion and vision while working as Director of Applied Vision Research and Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at North Carolina State University. From that work he concluded that it is crucial that we are connected to and ‘alive’ in our eyes; that this visual aliveness is central to our consciousness and wellbeing.

Kelley was also determined to empower people by focusing on health, not illness.

Working with the life force or radix means focusing on this source of health and vitality.