Psycho-Physical Therapy

Explorations in Somatic Psychotherapy

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What does a Psycho-Physical Therapy sessions look like?

Psycho-Physical therapy sessions will look different from one client to another and from therapist to therapist. There are, however, some common features to all Psycho-Physical Therapy sessions. All sessions will engage the body as a central and interactive part of the therapeutic process. This may include physicalizing aspects of the psychological process, deepening somatic awareness, working with movement patterns, hands-on body work, etc. Instead of focusing on pathology, on what is not working, sessions will address the building of resources, and the reframing of beliefs, habits, and psycho-physical patterns. What determines the way a session looks is the unfolding nature of the therapy process itself, the resource assessments of the therapist, and the clients physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual goals and needs. The hallmark of a Psycho-Physical Therapy session is the focus on self-awareness and the active integration of physical and psychological interventions.

The Psycho-Physical Therapy Process:

The process of therapy includes the following elements, but not necessarily in linear fashion. The therapeutic process will continually fold back on itself interweaving and addressing these different elements. Working with these different parts of the process is done in communication and cooperation with the client. The client is an interactive part of the therapeutic process. The interface between the physical and the psychological is continually addressed. Spiritual aspects of the client's process are integrated into the psycho-physical work.

1) Establishing, refining, and deepening the therapeutic relationship.
The first and ongoing task of therapy is to build and maintain the therapeutic container. The quality of the relationship between client and therapist, to a large extent, is what determines the quality of safety, depth, and support that is found in the therapy. This relationship is the container that holds the therapy.

2) Clarifying and refining of goals.
The therapist helps the client clarify, refine and deepen their goals for the therapy. This is very important since the purpose of the therapy is to serve and support the client in moving towards those goals. Once the goals for therapy are clearly defined an agreement to focus on these goals is made between the client and the therapist. This agreement helps the client and therapist to stay focused on the unfolding therapeutic process, without getting lost if the process drifts too far away from the established goals of the therapy.

3) Developing and deepening the clients self-awareness.
Awareness is an essential requirement for transformation. It is the foundation upon which conscious change happens. The client enters therapy with varying degrees of awareness. It is necessary for the client to have awareness on multiple levels. They need to be able to sense and feel their body, to be aware of feelings and emotions, and to track their thoughts and beliefs. The therapist assesses the client's awareness abilities and when necessary teaches and supports the client in building new awareness skills.

4) Assessing the client's resources.
The therapist works together with the client in making an assessment of the client's
over-all psycho-physical resources that are available to support movement towards the therapeutic goals. This assessment process will include looking at the postural and movement patterns of the body, as well as psychological, emotional, social, and spiritual resources.

5) Developing a therapeutic strategy based on assessments.
A therapeutic strategy is a plan or guideline that gives structure to the therapy process. The therapeutic strategy allows space for the creative unfolding of the therapy while at the same time creating an intention and direction for the therapeutic process.
The strategy is based on the therapist's assessment of psychological and characterlogical issues, the presence or lack of resources, the postural and movement patterns etc. When appropriate or necessary, the therapist will share this strategy with the client. The therapist is continually making assessments and adjusting the therapeutic strategy throughout the therapy, thus keeping the process in alignment with the client's therapeutic goals.

6) Building, refining, and integrating resources based on the therapeutic strategy.
Based on the assessments and the strategy for the therapy, the work becomes focused on building or refining resources that support the client's therapeutic goals. Resourcing work may happen with many aspects of the client's experience, including the physical, emotional, psychological, etc. The integration of these new resources with other aspects of the client's experience is carefully considered. Specific focus is given to the assessment and the building of somatic based resources.

7) Supporting and deepening the client's reorganization process.
Instincts and reflexes account for part of human experience but much of what we experience is self-organized. These experience don't just happen, they are organized, consciously and unconsciously. Many of a client's therapeutic goals involve the reorganization of their experience on a physical and psychological level. The process of reorganizing often requires clarifying and reframing old patterns and beliefs. The expression and release of feelings and emotions may also be a part of this process. The therapist task is to both deepen and support the client's process of reorganization and transformation.

8) Integrating the client's reorganization into their daily life.
The reorganization of a client's somatic, cognitive, and behavioral patterns from automatic, habitual, and unconscious actions into conscious and intentional choices is at the heart of the transformational process. Transformation usually happens in the client's daily life rather than in the therapist office. The therapy needs to be integrated into the client's daily life. The establishment of homework for the client is an important part of therapy.