Embodiment as a paradoxical relational process
Since its origins in Freud and the zeitgeist of the late 19th century, psychotherapy has struggled with and against the limitations arising from a mind-over-body paradigm and its traditional bias towards the verbal-reflective mind.
The recent fashion in neuroscience and embodiment has spawned a wave of new approaches which attempt to graft the body onto established therapeutic practice.
But how can we seriously imagine that bringing the body back into psychotherapy after 100 years of disembodied 'talking therapies' is just a question of a few new techniques?
Many of the new body-based techniques and strategies, for example, fail to sufficiently engage the therapist’s own bodymind, or re-introduce the reduction of therapy to simplistic reparative or medical model interventions, or exacerbate the client’s disembodiment through the use of the body as an objectifying therapeutic tool. Other problems include the attempt to reverse disembodiment without addressing the underlying conflicts between body and mind, a solipsistic notion of the bodymind as bounded by one’s skin, and the attempt to use mindfulness via a structurally disembodied and controlling mind.
Without a more fundamental re-visioning of the body-mind relationship throughout our profession, potentially affecting all areas of theory and practice, many of these well-intentioned attempts to work with the body are bound to back-fire and remain ineffectual.
Michael will try to address these problems by working towards a bodymind phenomenology of the therapeutic relationship that includes holistic, integral, systemic and relational perspectives and attends both to the possible integrations between spontaneous and reflective forces within the complex system of the bodymind, as well as their dis-integrations.