Body Psychotherapy ed. Staunton , T (Routledge, 2002)

A new book which illustrates the cutting edge of contemporary body psychotherapy, part of a series Advancing Theory in Therapy

Foreword: Andrew Samuels
Introduction: Tree Staunton
Foreign Bodies: Recovering the history of psychotherapy: Nick Totton
Application of Post-Reichian body psychotherapy: Bernd Eiden
Sexuality and Body Psychotherapy: Tree Staunton
Biodyamic Massage in Psychotherapy: Re-integrating, re-owning, and re-associating through the body: Roz Carroll (see below for excerpt)
Body Psychotherapy without Touch: applications for Trauma: Babette Rothschild
The Use of Imagery in Body Psychotherapy: Margaret Landale
Psychospiritual Body Psychotherapy: Philippa Vick
Subtle Body work: Rose Cameron
Body Psychotherapy and Regression: Roger Woolger
The Future for Body Psychotherapy: Nick Totton
Appendix: Trainings in Body Psychotherapy

  Isbn 1-58391 - 116-2 2002  £16.99 pbk The Chiron Centre for Body Psychotherapy offers a part-time three year training in body psychotherapy which includes training in biodynamic massage. See Body Psychotherapy and Biodynamic Massage


  Excerpt from chapter by Roz Carroll :

  Re-associating through the Body

            The lost heart […..]

            Quickens to recover [….]

            And smell renews the salt savour of the sandy earth

 (T.S. Eliot, ‘Ash Wednesday, VI)

  The body is both a representation and a reality, a manifestation of life, and life itself, what we are and something we have, that through which we live and in which we live: it is raw material, tool and crucible. The body has a language with which it responds to life, and is itself a language constituted by the language it carries, which speaks through us and ultimately speaks us.  (Gvirtsman, 1990, 29)


  Biodynamic massage is an intentional and attentional use of touch which can facilitate a very immediate and evocative,’quickening’ (ie. bringing to life) of parts of the self which have been numbed, buried, deadened.  It directly affects the autonomic nervous system, known in body psychotherapy by the more archaic term ‘vegetative’, a word derived from the Latin ‘vegetare’ which means to quicken, animate, or bring to life. The opening quotation “smell renews the salt savour of the sandy earth” is a metaphor for this process: the transformative power of a simple smell - or touch - with its capacity to ground an individual in their body, deepen self awareness, and evoke a whole range of associations.  This rich metaphor sums up for  me a crucial aspect of the effect of using biodynamic massage in psychotherapy : an increase in our capacity for an embodied sense of self.

  The four case histories  presented in this chapter unfold the levels of complexity of this process.  The stories illustrate the simple  value of a nurturing touch which provides holding, containment and relief from internal pressure. Other stories show how ambivalent feelings about touch are explored. Some of the difficulties and intricacies of integrating massage as an intervention  are discussed, especially the way in which  indicators of fragmentation and splitting in the client indicate the need for further attention to the transference.

  Biodynamic massage sits alongside many other forms of bodywork which have flourished and developed over the last century (though their roots are often in more ancient healing arts), such as polarity therapy, zero-balancing, cranio-sacral work, shento, shiatsu, rolfing, Alexander, Feldenkrais, Trager work, Hellerwork, and many others. These forms of bodywork – often incorporating the significant word ‘work’ – differ from most forms of massage, which aim more simply at increasing relaxation and well-being. Even in the bodywork practices listed above, there is enormous variation in the degree to  which the practitioners integrate a psychological process as part of the overall scope of the work.

  However, in  this chapter, I want to make a further  distinction between biodynamic bodywork as a ‘treatment’ in its own right and biodynamic massage as an intervention in body psychotherapy. Bodywork on its own can be a form of healing which deepens the client’s relationship to themselves and enhances the capacity for self-awareness, spontaneity, and well-being. Its use in psychotherapy requires a shift of emphasis from the therapeutic relationship as providing necessary safety and emotional holding, to a therapeutic relationship grounded in and guided by an understanding of transference dynamics as an essential part of the work.

  In this context, biodynamic massage has a wide variety of effects and whilst it can at times be the main modality of working,  it may also be used sparingly as a very concentrated therapeutic experience which may need time, space, and reflection to be assimilated fully. The examples I described from my own experience of massage were highly charged moments of inspiration  as my in-breath was, quite literally, deepened. They took place in a training context where there was emotional holding, but the experiences in the massage were not in themselves psychotherapy. Rather, they were catalysts. They  opened a door,  starting a process which flowered  in my experience of group and individual movement psychotherapy and body psychotherapy a few years later. Subsequently, the layer upon layer of consequence, effect, shift and regression emerging from a body process have, in my case, been largely worked through individual psychoanalytic psychotherapy. Bringing together my appreciation of bodywork and my respect for object relations theory has been fundamental to the development of the thinking set out in this chapter.



previous page

Psychotherapy, Supervision, Consultation and Training

email Roz Carroll