What is Biodynamic Psychotherapy?
Extract from Address by Gerda Boyesen to International Body Psychotherapy Congress
"The dichotomy between the verbal and the body approach comes from the controversy between Freud and Reich, but today we can consider this as just a question of semantics. Something Freud said in fact bridges the therapeutic contradiction that still exists today.
Freud introduced the concept of the "motoric-ego" a notion that seems almost forgotten today. Freud stresses that the psychological system connects sensory nerves to motor nerves.
This implies we can work on either the muscles or the psychological level, depending on what we feel is the most helpful for our client."
Gerda Boyesen - Address to International Body Psychotherapy Congress
Biodynamic Psychotherapy is a dynamic and vital endeavour.
It is a contract between two people where one person in that contract, the biodynamic psychotherapist, undertakes to listen carefully to that which is presented, or omitted ("latent content") by the client. Both persons agree to work with this material for the benefit of one person, the client. It is the conscious and intentionally undertaken commitment to use the psychotherapeutic relationship and structure for the purpose of achieving mutually agreed and workable goals and outcomes for the client.
The biodynamic psychotherapist is non critical and non-judgmental with a therapeutic presence which does not interrupt the client. This presence supports the full functioning of the client's own working through abilities on all levels ("midwife" approach). There is an attitude of welcome to all symptoms, hopes, dreams, resistances, avoidances, memories, feelings, etc which are brought to the structure of the "total situation" in each session. This approach is designed to facilitate the "maturational processes" of an individual.
Biodynamic psychotherapy supports the client's progress in their own way and time and this journey can lead to a genuine feeling of achievement. The psychotherapy contract and framework can enable the client to talk about, re-experience and heal (and not just work with or understand) any incomplete cycles arising from experiences in the past. The completion of emotional cycles and the corresponding physiological and psychic resolution is an essential aspect of biodynamic psychotherapy. This can also establish the basis for experiences which may never have happened in the past, (including feelings of love, support, tenderness, empathy and encouragement) to be experienced in the present, often for the first time.
What happens in a biodynamic psychotherapy session?
In a typical biodynamic clinic or practice there will be two comfortable chairs, a treatment table and vegetotherapy couch. Biodynamic psychotherapy is not confined to talking therapies alone. When the client needs to speak, there is choice to sit in a chair, talk things through, work things out; or to lie down on the vegetotherapy couch, and speak. The biodynamic psychotherapist listens, carefully, to what the client has to say and to what the client interprets, understands and analyses from their own experiences.
When the client is lying down (as was always the case with psychoanalysis) the diaphragm and the defenses can relax and unconscious material that may otherwise remain held or repressed can safely come to the surface, ripen and emerge. The vegetotherapy couch is similar to the psychoanalytic couch but it is wider and nearer to the floor so that the client is not unconsciously afraid of falling if spontaneous movements occur during the talking session.
The vegetotherapy couch provides a safe and comfortable place for bodywork, for Reich's "orgonomy" work and exercises to bring the "streamings" (the experience of flow of life energy). It is also a clear working area for any therapeutic intervention that the biodynamic psychotherapist may use to loosen the diaphragm and restore the unconscious breathing.
This can help the client to liberate trapped energy or feelings sitting in the vegetative system and the viscera. These realms of the body cannot be accessed or influenced by the mind and are not controlled by the brain or conscious, mental functions. They are governed by the "second brain" or gut, which is our primitive intelligence. Specific and focused vegetotherapy and other biodynamic breathing and bodywork methods can really help the client to experience their intelligent, healthy, instinctual nature.