Integrative Body Psychotherapy (IBP), a holistic approach to treatment, integrates several modalities in order to increase awareness of the ways the body and the mind relate. This approach supports a person's somatic experience as a path to self-awareness. To gain insight into one's own self, according to IBP theory, one's experiences must be felt in the core, and this integration of mind, body, and spirit can facilitate healing.
Jack Lee Rosenberg, a clinical psychologist in the United States who spent time studying with Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow, drew on a number of psychological ideologies, such as Gestalt, object relations, bioenergetics, Freudian psychology, meditation, and yoga, in his formation of this unified, non-invasive approach to treatment. Proponents of the approach believe a person's self is grounded in the body and thus, treatment of psychological concerns, or issues of the "self," are likely to be unsuccessful if the body is ignored.
The structure of a person's character, according to IBP theory, is formed from the muscular patterns, belief systems, and emotions fixed in the body. A person's thoughts, emotional experience, and other energy sources in the body may work cohesively or individually, and they may at times trigger blockages that can interfere with a person's path to well-being or other enlightenment. Through holistic approaches that integrate mental, emotional, and even spiritual healing, however, growth and development of both the body and mind may occur.
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IBP theory holds that much about life can be learned through somatic (bodily) intelligence and that individuals are better able to face and address stressful situations when doing so from a state of mindfulness. Integrating the whole person—mind, body, emotions, and spirit—in order to allow for healing transformation and help bring about relief of psychological and physical concerns is considered to be the ultimate goal of IBP.
A comprehensive, holistic approach, integrative body psychotherapy draws from both modern psychology and mind-body scientific thought in order to identify and address any obstacles to well-being. These obstacles—situations or triggers that may lead a person to experience an involuntary and/or unhealthy response—can disrupt or block pathways to mindfulness, and IBP practitioners work to teach those in treatment how to recognize the different psychological fields in which these obstacles might occur and understand the steps they can take to move away from them in order to pursue healing, wholeness, and seek out their own inner wisdom.
The direction of an IBP session depends upon the person's needs, as the therapist's primary goal is to identify the person's reflexes and any defenses that interfere with self-awareness. Once a reflex—such as breathing rapidly when worried about one's studies—is established, therapists can assist people in treatment through the discovery and development of other coping mechanisms. For example, IBP supports controlled breathing and other breathwork as an effective practice for the promotion of mindfulness and the alleviation of feelings of depression and anxiety.
People in treatment are also often asked to keep a journal in which they can record dreams, daily thoughts, and events that affect them. The journal is intended as a tool to help people keep track of patterns that recur and follow their own change and growth over time.
IBP is considered to be a helpful approach to treatment for a range of concerns. Somatization, relationship concerns, and the effects of past trauma are key among them. However, any experience of disrupted emotional, mental, or bodily well-being may be treated with this approach. Because IBP is a holistic approach, it may also offer benefit as a complementary treatment to individuals experiencing health concerns.
Practitioners of the approach often work with couples experiencing intimacy concerns or other relationship difficulties, helping them discover what patterns have stalled intimacy or other aspects of their relationship—for example, patterns often developing as a result of childhood trauma or personal defense mechanisms.
People seeking therapy who are experiencing great stress or feel as if they are perpetually in fight, flight, or freeze mode may experience difficulty sustaining typical function and may be unable to shift out of these states on their own. Traditional talking therapies may help some, but others may still be unable to achieve lasting change. IBP, then, may offer an alternative approach that can help people in treatment transform stress and other mental health challenges.
Training in this approach is offered through the IBP Central Institute in Los Angeles. There are four available tracks students can choose from.
- IBP Mental Health Practitioner: This three-year track offers licensed mental health professionals training in somatic-based therapy.
- IBP Allied Professional: This two-year track, which is intended for those who have a master's degree or higher, offers skills training in effective interaction and cooperation with others in a professional capacity.
- IBP Teacher: Students pursuing the three-year IBP Teacher certification track must be certified as either a IBP Practitioner or Allied Professional and be a licensed mental health professional. Upon completion they have the opportunity to become part of the teaching staff.
- IBP Associate: This two-year track is intended for any individual who has a high school diploma or GED and desires to learm more about IBP concepts and how they can be applied for personal development and growth.
The IBP Central Institute also offers workshops and continuing education.
Because IBP is still a relatively new approach, it has not yet been thoroughly studied or evaluated in the research domain. As such, the evidence supporting it is largely anecdotal. Further studies may offer greater support for the approach.
- About IBP (n,d,). Retrieved from http://www.ibponline.org/about.php
- Integrative body psychotherapy - some common ground. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.body-psychotherapy.org.uk/component/content/article/1-site-articles/3-integrative-body-psychotherapy.html
- IBP mission and purpose statement. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ibponline.org/training_program.php
- Rosenberg, J. L., & Morse, B. K. (n.d.). Sustaining love and sexuality in long term intimate relationships. Retrieved from http://www.ibponline.org/resources/Couples_Therapy.pdf
- Rosenberg, J. L., Rand, M. L., & Asay, D. (1989). Body, self, and soul: Sustaining integration. Atlanta, Georgia: Humanics Limited.