Embodiment in Counselling and Therapy

Embodiment is fundamental to the human condition and has inevitably become increasingly important in counselling and therapy. Aspects of embodiment are taken into account by many approaches and therapists typically consider embodied knowing and communication, including how distress can be expressed through the body. I will focus here on therapies with embodiment at their theoretical core.

Body Psychotherapy
This is a mainstream branch of psychotherapy that emphasizes the integration of mind and body. Practitioners draw on a range of techniques including direct physical interventions (e.g. touch, movement and breathing). Some of these techniques derive from other therapeutic approaches (e.g. Biodynamic Massage, Gestalt or Psychodrama).

Some strands of Body psychotherapy integrate elements of body therapies like Feldenkrais or Rolfing and some apply cognitive science research.

Bioenergetic analysis is a type of body psychotherapy developed by Lowen and Pierrakos from Reich's work.

Focusing emerged from research conducted by Rogers and Gendlin to evaluate competing therapeutic approaches. The research recognized the existence of the felt sense, a visceral sensation that carries meaning.

Dance and movement therapies
Dance therapy or Dance Movement Psychotherapy "uses movement to address emotional, social, cognitive, and physical needs of individuals" (American Dance Therapy Association). It is based on the principle that movement is the "primary language" of the body and is intimately related to emotion and thinking. Thus "the body reflects our way of being as humans" (Halprin, D. 2002; 17).