BodyTalk System, a holistic therapy grounded in the belief that living organisms have the capability to heal themselves more effectively than any technology used today, combines elements of both Eastern and Western medicine to facilitate personal healing and growth.

By addressing the entire person rather than one specific issue, BodyTalk provides a “whole-healthcare” system that promotes emotional, physical and physiological well-being. Therapists who practice BodyTalk use a number of techniques, all of which are non-invasive, to help those in treatment tap into the body’s natural system of healing. 

Development of the BodyTalk System

The BodyTalk System was developed in the 1990s by Dr. John Veltheim, an Australian chiropractor, acupuncturist, and teacher. Contributing factors to the development of this treatment method include Veltheim’s postgraduate studies in kinesiology, bioenergetic psychology, sports medicine, and counseling, among others, and his search to meet his own healthcare needs while dealing with a life-threatening illness. He traveled the world to find answers, exploring alternative remedies in both Eastern and Western medicine, and an osteopath in New Zealand introduced him to techniques that eventually became the foundation for the BodyTalk System. 

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In 1998, as his health began to improve, Veltheim moved to Sarasota, Florida to further establish his developing practice. In 2000, Dr. John Veltheim and his wife Esther Veltheim founded the International BodyTalk Association. Today, the BodyTalk System is practiced by over 200 instructors in over 50 countries around the world.

In addition to the classic form of the BodyTalk System, BodyTalk professionals developed an adapted version called BodyTalk Access. The BodyTalk Access program teaches individuals, groups, and organizations a simple set of energy-based techniques to promote self-healing. These BodyTalk Access techniques, designed to help people manage daily challenges to well-being and maintain whole-body health, can be used at home, school, or work, by any individual.

BodyTalk System Theory

This approach, which is sometimes described as acupuncture without needles, purports to listen to the body, engage its ability to heal itself, and enhance communication between bodily systems. 

Based in dynamic systems theory, BodyTalk considers emotional, physical, and environmental influences in order to address the underlying cause of conditions, and using various techniques to activate the brain, restructure the body’s energetic patterns, and promote healing from within. 

Practitioners of the method, known as BodyTalkers, seek to discover which parts of the body’s “electrical system” are malfunctioning. They then make contact with specific points across the body, using their hands to “make repairs.” Tapping, breathing, and other forms of touch are used to stimulate the brain to employ natural healing procedures. The resulting effect is believed to improve the energy balance within the body.

The approach is based on the following principles:

  • The body can heal itself: BodyTalk utilizes what is known as the “innate wisdom” of the body to heal itself in order to recover from any and all types of injury. 
  • Stress impacts overall health: Every experience a person goes through contributes to that person’s state of health. Lifestyle, genetics, history, and environment all impact the body’s functioning. Stresses produced by external factors can interfere with the natural communication systems within the body. This interference prevents the body from functioning at its best and can lead to emotional and physical health issues. 
  • The body communicates via energetic circuitry: Every aspect of our being—cells, atoms, and neurons—are in communication with each other constantly. Each bodily system communicates via energetic circuitry for optimal functioning. Stress can compromise the circuitry systems (the nervous system, for example) and create chronic breakdown of communication within the “bodymind complex.” Practitioners of BodyTalk strive to connect these broken lines and facilitate open communication between all of the elements of the body in order to promote healing from within.

BodyTalk Processes and Techniques

The process of BodyTalk can be broken down into these three steps, the "ABCs" of BodyTalk:

  • Ask: Practitioners pay attention to what the body is doing in order to decipher information. They "ask" the body questions and get answers by observing how various muscles tense and relax. This natural biofeedback loop is used to identify and prioritize the healing needs of the body. Questions are also asked verbally so the BodyTalker can gather information about a person’s experience and begin to tailor treatment to that person’s specific needs.
  • Balance: After gathering information about the needs of the body, BodyTalkers chart and prioritize several ways to bring balance to the body and mind. Techniques such as tapping of the head and chest are used to signal the brain and heart to prepare to heal and restructure. 
  • Communication: The final phase of the process attempts to re-link the systems in the body and repair any lines of communication that have been compromised. Tapping focuses on various points throughout the body, including what are known as the "energy circuits." More efficient and effective healing is believed to result when systems are restored and energy can flow between them. 

One of the most important techniques used in the BodyTalk System is the cortices technique. This technique, which is based on the premise that the brain functions electromagnetically and can sometimes “blow fuses,” is designed to bring balance to both halves of the brain by repairing these fused. This process is believed to strengthen function in the brain and body and improve the “bodymind's” response to stress. In this technique, the practitioner places one hand over the back of the head and, with the other hand, begins to gently tap parts of the head, sending signals to both sides of the brain. This is followed by gentle tapping of the chest.

This process is repeated for each part of the head, always moving up along the center line of the brain. The tapping is believed to from a "bridge" between the hemispheres of the brain, creating a “standing wave" to allow the energy fields to interact with one another, reopening the electrical communication between both hemispheres. The goal of the process is improved brain efficiency and overall health.

Issues Treated with BodyTalk

The BodyTalk System can treat a number of physical and mental health issues, but it is designed to improve the body and mind as a whole. Systemic treatment tailored individually to each individual seeking treatment is intended to promote balance and healing. BodyTalkers believe when the 36 surface energy points are balanced, people will experience improvement in all areas, including mood, energy level, muscle tension, and overall bodily function. 

The approach can also be used to address systems of posttraumatic stress, depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and insomnia

BodyTalk System Training and Certification

Mental health professionals wishing to become certified practitioners of the BodyTalk System must pursue training through the International BodyTalk Association. Training is typically completed in anywhere from 6 months to 2 years. The training involves taking two classes, completing and documenting 50 or more sessions with at least 15 different individuals, receiving at least five sessions from a certified practitioner, and passing both a written and oral examination. After achieving the first level of credentials, professionals may also pursue advanced certification, which involves advanced coursework and two written exams. 

BodyTalk Access training is a short (one-day) introduction to the BodyTalk System. Though anyone can take the class to learn how to utilize BodyTalk in daily life, the IBA recommends professionals take this class before attending the required classes for certification. 

Criticisms and Limitations of the BodyTalk System

BodyTalk practitioners advertise the safety of the BodyTalk System as one its main perks, and Veltheim himself has claimed that even if a person were to use BodyTalk techniques incorrectly, there would be no risk of harm. It has been deemed safe by BodyTalk professionals because it uses no pharmacological regimens and because the clinician performs all treatment through a non-invasive method. BodyTalk professionals also state BodyTalk can be safely used in conjunction with other methods of treatment. Potential participants can reduce risk by educating themselves about BodyTalk and by making sure their BodyTalk practitioner is a certified professional. 

BodyTalk is a relatively new form of treatment and is not yet supported by evidence. Critics of BodyTalk believe the method has little to no basis in scientific fact and that more concepts from the established sciences of physiology and anatomy should be incorporated into its foundational principles. More scientific evidence is also needed to support the basis of the BodyTalk System. 

Some critics point out the potentially dangerous use of the cortices technique, a tapping technique Veltheim claims can be used by paramedics and medical professionals to help trauma victims come out of shock "almost instantly" and to stop open bleeding, even an arterial bleed. Even were this technique to be scientifically validated, it could be harmful when used by those without proper training. 


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