"Trauma affects the whole human organism, body, psyche and brain (...) therefore it is crucial for trauma treatment that the whole organism is included." (Bessel van der Kolk)
What is body-oriented psychotherapy
Research shows that trauma and early attachment experiences leave deep bodily traces. Where traditional psychotherapy targets cognitive and emotional elements of such experiences, here the body is also included in the therapy work. The approach is based on a basic psychodynamic understanding that integrates elements from cognitive behavioral therapy, recent neuropsychological research and attachment and dissociation theory. Including also inspired by NAP (see above). Mindfulness – training in attentive presence, is central to the approach.
Congested nervous system
Including the body more directly in the therapy can help to heal traumatic experiences such as accidents, abuse, losses and violations and can alleviate ailments such as migraines, chronic fatigue syndrome, sleep problems, chronic pain and other conditions that stem from a stressed and overloaded nervous system.
Work with the past in the present: the body remembers
Creating a safe contact is important regardless of whether the therapy is to last for a shorter or longer time. Many experiences primarily leave a physical or emotional trace, and it is not necessary to remember everything that has happened. The body remembers on an instinctive level - and we can work our way through bodily and emotional reactions to the events in the present.
How can body-oriented psychotherapy help and how does it work in practice?
The therapy is a combination of conversation and guidance through body sensations, feelings and reactions. Through simple body-oriented interventions, you can learn to "read" and "translate" the body's expressions, explore trauma-related activation in a safe way, build up resources and restore bodily self-esteem. The approach provides the opportunity to process overwhelming experiences, by getting in touch with broken defensive responses and underlying (deeper) emotions. For example, in a bodily exhaustion/underactivation there can be an overactive nervous system (too high stress over too long) and restrained emotions such as anger and/or sadness.
Safety and balance through regulation
In therapy, we can work to regulate and restore balance in the autonomic nervous system in a gentle and organic way, stuck energy in the body can be released from survival mechanisms such as fight, flight or freeze. In this way, you can regain vitality, joy and profit - and gain increased contact with yourself and your own body. For some it may be useful to expose more quickly to the body and feelings (traumatic memories) and for others it is important to proceed cautiously to avoid being overwhelmed.
Reducing the grip of the past: finding and challenging the trauma-related "truths" about ourselves, others and the world
In the lessons, it can be important to work in parallel with cognitive "locks", decisions and perceptions that can be linked to self-experience, about the relationship with other people or to the world/our existence, and to understand how oneself in the light of temperament and personality development.
Presence and contact as mainstays throughout the therapy
Humans are fundamentally motivated towards contact and connection with others (cohesion). Our dignity is created through a deep sense of reciprocity and compassionate affirmation. When core aspects and feelings of the self are not affirmed or supported in childhood, defenses are built up, which can become sources of problems in relationships later in life. Using the body as a resource, we can build new psychological skills that were missing in childhood, this can contribute to a deeper sense of oneself and being in the world. In this, one can also explore the relationship the individual has with both people, animals, nature and the collective/spiritual/spiritual.