Many therapists take great pains to make their clients feel comfortable during sessions at their private practice. From conscientious furniture selections –including the ever-classical couch– to calming hues and interesting artistic focal points, the mental health professional’s office has long been the subject of concerted effort and study. Yet a new trend among psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers alike has taken the concept of making clients comfortable to a whole new level, and has tapped into the body-mind connection in a way that proves full of opportunity. Yoga therapy, as the practice is being called, incorporates the popular Indian tradition of yoga with traditional therapies, such as cognitive behavioral and psychodynamic psychotherapy.
With a plethora of easy introductory poses, yoga enables clients to incorporate their physical awareness with the mental benefits of a therapy session. Helping to stretch and relax the muscles, poses can prove grounding for many with stressful tendencies, calming for those experiencing anxiety, or comfort and clarity for clients with depressive symptoms. The unique breathing exercises associated with yoga are also likely very beneficial for clients suffering from a range of issues, and can help open and sustain a session while promoting calm, openness, and the therapist-client relationship.
Dr. Elizabeth Visceglia, a practicing psychiatrist in New York City, has been developing yoga therapy for her clients for a while, and is in the process of drawing conclusions from an academic study aimed at assessing the precise benefits of the technique. She suspects, in particular, that yoga therapy may be a large step forward for those with schizophrenia. Her hope for the success of the treatment is echoed in the growing popularity of yoga therapy, which is being adopted by both mental health professionals and by yoga enthusiasts with an interest in psychology. As the trend continues, many professionals may find their couches replaced by a simple yoga mat.
© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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