Susan Aphoshyan is a contemporary figure in psychology who developed the concept of body-mind psychotherapy. She incorporates elements of yoga, meditation, dance, and other forms of bodywork into psychotherapy.
Susan Aposhyan graduated Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude, in dance and psychology from the University of Virginia. She then participated in graduate level work in biomechanics, dance therapy, and psychology at the University of Virginia, New York University, and Boston University.
She has taught multiple types of bodywork, including dance, meditation, and yoga. After studying Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen's theory of relating through body-mind centering, Aposhyan integrated the somatic and cognitive into one model. She became certified in body-mind centering and continued studying and practicing the technique, which led to her development of body-mind psychotherapy. Aposhyan has applied her technique to various arenas: educational, medical, and industrial. Her methods have been used to address a wide variety of mental health issues including depression, autism, anxiety, addictions, eating and food issues, trauma, bipolar, psychosis, and obsessive-compulsive behaviors.
In 1980, Aposhyan began teaching at the Naropa University, where she worked in collaboration with Christine Caldwell to eventually develop and direct one of the first master’s programs in body psychotherapy. In addition, she founded the Association of Somatic Psychology in 1991. The association was combined with several other somatic programs in 1994 and became known as the United States Association of Body Psychotherapy. Aposhyan was on the board and continues to remain active in this organization.
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Aposhyan continues to work in psychotherapy and offers her services teaching meditation and yoga and facilitating healing. She is an expert in Buddhist meditation and is experienced in several other forms, including Hindu, Christian, and secular. She currently teaches in the Esalen program at the Santa Barbara Graduate Institute.
Contribution to Psychology
Aposhyan is the developer of body-mind psychotherapy (BMP). BMP emphasizes early motor development and physiology, with a focus on neuroscience. Awareness of sensation is an essential element of this form of psychotherapy. Mindfulness of the moment and the body’s response to the event or experience is the beginning of the healing process.
The key concepts associated with body-mind psychotherapy include:
- Embodiment is a practice that involves identifying specific reactive sensations and allowing oneself to feel and embody them fully.
- Development is recognized as a vehicle for transformation and is the cornerstone of BMP. Motor development from early childhood is used as a map for future emotional healing and growth.
- Experiential anatomy provides a witness to the emotional and physiological reactions and processing of life experiences.
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Books by Susan Aposhyan
- Natural Intelligence (1998)
- Body-Mind Psychotherapy: Principles, Techniques, and Practical Applications (2004)
Quote by Susan Aposhyan