Bioenergetic analysis is a method of body psychotherapy that incorporates therapeutic treatment techniques with psychological study and active body work. This type of therapy was developed by Wilhelm Reich and Alexander Lowen. The basis of this form of therapy is the relevance of the body’s own energy to the emotional and psychological well-being of the person. In order to achieve emotional health, energy must be permitted to flow freely through the mind and the body. Bioenergetic analysis is built on the foundation that each person is one with his or her body and therefore, all of the life events and experiences are in reality experiences of the body. A person’s physical manifestations through posture, expression, and muscular stance, reveal the story of the life circumstances of that body.
Bioenergetic analysis was developed from the theory of Lowen with respect to body-orientation. This technique has evolved to integrate several other theories including trauma theory and attachment theory. When people are faced with emotional traumas, the unconscious response is to tense the muscular structure in order to sever the physical reaction of pain. This pattern carries over from childhood and becomes a clear pattern for tension that blocks the free and natural flow of energy. Lowen highlighted five specific character states for this muscle tension:
These individual character types are created as a result of the body’s own response to life experiences that have manifested themselves in the physical structure of the person.
Therapists who practice bioenergetic analysis treat both the body and the mind. They listen to the story that the body is telling by identifying specific holding patterns of posture, breathing, and expression. Therapists will utilize several different elements of body-work, including self-expressive practices, stress positions, and movement to facilitate a more complete sense of self. A safe and nurturing environment provides the atmosphere for the release of emotions. During the mind work, a therapist can elicit emotional responses and identify negative feelings and thought patterns. At the same time, the therapist can examine how these relate to the physical body form and provide relaxation techniques for the client. The ultimate goal of this type of therapy is to address the client as one being and affect a positive release of energy that allows a client to achieve a sense of vibrant well-being.
Last updated: 05-14-2013