Browsing: body psychotherapy

Currents

What can the theory and practice of somatic/body psychotherapy, ecopsychology and Buddhism offer to each other?

For the past five years, Kamalamani has shared life and work at the confluence of these fields in her quarterly Bodywise articles for Somatic Psychotherapy Today, an independent international publication representing various modalities in body psychotherapy, somatic psychology, and pre-natal and perinatal psychology. This volume brings together these quarterly Bodywise articles. Kamalamani explores client work in embodied and relational ways, drawing upon her practice of Buddhism. With her characteristically warm, immediate, accessible tone, Kamalamani encourages personal reflection and professional consideration as she offers insights illuminated by traditional Buddhist texts along with personal and clinical anecdotes that range from birth to death, from meditating with character to Reich’s character structures, from trauma and terrorized bodies to diversity, embodied spirituality and pre-natal and peri-natal psychology.

Reviews

Trauma is pervasive in our lives, from smaller situations that trigger feelings of inability and fear to larger catastrophes that render our entire being useless as we careen out of control. Be it a result of human inflicted acts of violence—war, terrorism, genocide— or the result of natural occurrences such as hurricanes, tsunamis, and wild fires that leave us feeling victimized, isolated, abandoned, people walk through their lives numb to their reality. Their senses are overwhelmed; scenes flash in as if happening now, not then. People exist in the past as if it is the present. And when these people become our clients, when in fact these people are in part, ourselves, we, as therapists, need to offer hope and possibility to move from then to now, to live a better quality of life than what we are experiencing in the current moment.

But, how?

Currents

The Fall 2017 issue of the International Body Psychotherapy Journal, volume 16, number 3, is now online. This issue marks a significant transition to the IBPJ editorial team. Jill van der Aa, the managing editor since the journal’s inception, is stepping down and Antigone Orepoulou is stepping up for the Spring 2018 issue. We welcome her to the editorial team. The fall issue offers a range of papers. Readers can partake in an in-depth conversation about self-disclosure from a relational body psychotherapy stance, and explore client suffering as potentially originating from civilization then look at how getting in touch adaptively with the body resonates with helping society get in touch sustainably with the ecosystem. The pioneering work of Sabina Spielrein is explored as is the Triphasic Cumulative Microaggression Trauma Processing Model.

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Jagged edges of pain were audible and palpable in Kris’ voice when he initially called. “I need therapy. But . . . I can’t come now . . . I’m . . . in a hospital. I’d like to call you again . . . when I’m out.” I met Kris two months later after his discharge from a local psychiatric program. No longer at risk for self-harm, Kris was a tall, attractive man in his late thirties with a story of misery. Kris talked about childhood bullying and his recent marital demise that had caused him financial and emotional devastation. Yet, regardless of these past and current traumas, Kris possessed strengths.

Birth Psychology

Babies and children can often be our greatest teachers in life. They remind us of our deep human connection to each other and to the world. An Integrative Approach to Treating Babies and Children, edited by John Wilks, persuades us to listen to everyone’s own “baby history.”

In other words, Wilks has us look into the history of our birth in order to have a greater understanding of its effects on our adult life. Wilks suggests in the introduction that, “One of the major themes in this book is that it is much more important for us to create the right space in ourselves and in our clinic setting to work with babies rather than what we ‘do’ to a baby” (16).

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Walking over to my chair, cell phone in hand, Bev exclaimed (the tone of her voice implying the answer was a given to her upcoming question), “Aren’t these pictures beautiful? Here, look at this one—I took it from the old Fort. Can you spot the house in the background across the inlet? That’s where my father would put the boat in the water to take us up the coast. Those were good times.” Bev’s photographs, composites of her beloved seas and shorelines along Maine’s southern and mid-coast, comprise a visual memorial to the beaches and bays that provided a measure of playfulness and serenity within the more chronic and painful vagaries of her childhood and adolescence.

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“Ahhhgh!” Lance moaned as he slouched stiffly on the couch on an airy summer day.

He stretched his legs past the edge of the table, rubbed his right thigh. Lance groaned. “I’m a mess. The two little ones were crawling all over me this morning, bumping every inch of me that’s bruised. I had to get up and get all of them breakfast, but my body hurt so bad I wasn’t sure I could even move.”

A married father of three and a martial artist in his mid-thirties, Lance is tall, tan and robust looking, an appearance that belies his current physical discomfort.

“What’s happened to make you so sore, Lance?”

“My physical therapist says its bursitis in my muscles. It’s because of my damn job.” Lance, advertises his frustration with a loud, drawn out ‘jawwwb.’ “They have me blasting in a tube again! No PT is going to help me when I’m getting bashed all the time!”

Lance’s well-paying job is rather unusual. Working for a company whose contracted venues mandate sandblasting and painting in spaces where he barely fits, Lance must use Superman strength, Ironman agility and Spiderman courage to keep from being crushed against the walls and wounded by the heavy equipment he carries. Although Lance credits martial arts training for giving him the flexibility to perform this work, invariably he ends up moving around in awkward and uncomfortable positions and coming out hurt.

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Intimacy from the Inside Out (IFIO) by Toni Herbine-Blank, Donna M. Kerpelman, and Martha Sweezy is geared toward psychotherapists who are seeking an alternative method for practicing couples therapy. IFIO therapy stems from Internal Family Systems therapy (IFS), a model developed by Richard Schwartz in the 1980s as an approach to working with individuals and families, then later expanded to include couples. IFIO couple’s therapy involves a two-step process of planning for the predictable universal issues that couples face and responding skillfully to other unexpected factors. Couples entering IFIO therapy often hold the two goals of feeling safe within their relationship and reestablishing intimacy. In the initial session, the therapist meets with the couple to inquire about hopes and goals, assess their ability to accept differences in each other, and then offer a perspective on the possibilities of treatment.

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In Psychotherapy East & West, Alan Watts attempts to bridge the gap between Western psychological thought and Eastern ways of life. Originally published in 1961, his goal was to provide an updated perspective on Western versus Eastern psychological ideas and provoke thought and experimentation in the reader. The 2017 reprinting of this classic instills new life into Watts’ argument that using psychotherapy without an understanding of Eastern ideologies will fall short of helping one to reach a feeling of true liberation. He posited that the groundbreaking insights of influential psychologists such as Freud and Jung synthesized with the Eastern spiritual philosophies of Buddhism, Taoism, Vedanta, and yoga could liberate people from the internal struggles within themselves.

Mind/Body/Spirit

“I’m so exhausted!” Emily sighed as she slumped into the rocking chair. “The store is driving me crazy!”

Congenial and generally upbeat, Emily juggles complex roles as manager of a profitable men’s clothing franchise: engaging saleswoman, savvy boss and compassionate housemother for her “kids” as she calls her staff. Emily handles the pressures with genuine warmth and contagious wit. Despite changing business requirements and the kids’ idiosyncratic quirks, Emily remains surprisingly happy in her job, often affirming, “My job is fun. It makes me feel really good.”

Yet, on this vibrantly sunny summer day, something was different. The energy with which Emily entered the room was visibly and palpably low, as if a cloud had blocked the light that had been beaming through the window. With a wan twinkle at the edges of her usually lively eyes, Emily recounted the latest list of stressors involving inventory, customers and the kids.