Psychotherapy or bodywork

Another, and in our opinion very crucial question, is how the therapist works with a client or group, and whether he works mostly nonverbally, verbally or in a combination.

Another way to state this point could be to question whether what is going on between client and therapist can be accurately described as a modality of psychotherapy, or whether it should rather be described as a form of bodywork, movement therapy or massage. All of these ways of working are more related to Physiotherapy, Relaxation-therapy, Rolfing or other ways of improving well-being or ways of inspiring personal development, than they are related to psychotherapy.

Let's give an example: A good Rolfing session might very well be an important part of a personal developmental process, but it is not psychotherapy, because there is no contract concerning this. There is a contract concerning changing the physical alignment (physical well-being), and not the psychological or behavioral way of being. So even though there may be such changes (seldom or often) in these - the focus has been different, and this is the important difference.

But what then, is psychotherapy?:

When we look and search for a definition of psychotherapy the most basic is "treatment of the soul" or "treatment through using psychotherapeutic approaches" (see Psykologisk Leksikon ("Psychological Dictionary"),edited by K.B.Madsen and published in Denmark.

A more elaborated definition is hard to find because most psychotherapeutic approaches steer clear from making a definition.

The published EABP definition of Body-Psychotherapy is of course more elaborated, but the most clear and precise definition we have found is found in a Norwegian book edited by 2 Norwegian professors, where 5 different approaches are described in 5 chapters - and only ONE has a definition.

This one definition is by Borger Haaverdsholm, a well-known Norwegian Body Psychotherapist (Nic Waal Institute). He writes:

"BY BODY PSYCHOTHERAPY I UNDERSTAND A THERAPYFORM THAT THROUGH A PSYCHOLOGICAL AND BODILY UNDERSTANDING, THEORY AND WAY OF WORKING, HAS THE GOAL OF IMPROVING THE PSYCHOLOGICAL AND PHYSICAL HEALTH OF THE CLIENT". (Høstmark and von der Lippe, Oslo, 1993. The book is written in Norwegian, and when I translate the title it is called: "Psychotherapy with adults, 5 perspectives on theory and praxis").



And we DO support the Strasbourg Declaration.

BECAUSE bodily oriented ways of working have been used, and are still used, as much within a psychotherapeutic context as within several non-psychotherapeutic contexts, we regard it as an important reason for the submodalities of body psychotherapy to declare themselves, and to document that they are in fact psychotherapies and not merely bodily oriented techniques of providing well-being and development.

At the end of this document we have enclosed a paper that we give out to clients in order to inform them about our way of working (appendix).

Whether a way of working with individuals or groups can justifiably describe itself as a kind of psychotherapy depends on a series of questions, although there is also no common consensus on what these questions should be.

We would suggest questions like:

- is some kind of clarified understanding of personality and personal development used as a basis for the way of working in question ?

- are inquiry, problem recognition, problem analysis and a working contract clearly stated between client and therapist and part of the way of working in question ?

- if so, is this working contract regularly followed up with a mutual evaluation of the outcome of therapy ?

- is the relationship between client and therapist, including an awareness of trans- and countertransference (or these phenomena described in other words) recognized and part of the teaching and the way of working in question ?

Answers to questions like these would be helpful in clarifying whether the way of working in question could be considered as a form of psychotherapy, although not necessarily helpful in clarifying whether the same way of working is scientifically validated.

We also imagine that this crucial point is the main reason why EAP wants the different submodalities of body psychotherapy to produce a "so-called" scientific validation.

As a consequence of these view points we believe it is reasonable that every school or institute teaching psychotherapy should be obliged to state if, and in what way, they perceive themselves as teaching a psychotherapeutic submodality, and also what kind or kinds of psychotherapeutic submodality they are mostly connected to, or inspired by.

We also consider it as a fair request that any specific and distinguishable submodality somehow documents the scientific validity of their specific tradition.

In principle, but contrary to this, we do not find it fair or appropriate that every school teaching body psychotheraputic methods and skills should be asked to document the scientific validity of their work.

This latter request should be a demand to the specific submodality only.

However, independently of how the above mentioned questions are answered, we are willing to document both what we consider as teaching and practicing a form of psychotherapy - A SUBMODALITY OF BODYPSYSCHOTHERAPY - and also to document the scientific validation of our work.

One reason is that we consider The Bodynamic SYSTEM (Analysis) not just as a school or an institute, but instead rather as something approaching an actual submodality of bodypsychotherapy.

We will leave the evaluation of this question for others , but we do consider our way of working as meticulous, well described, widespread AND DIFFERENT FROM OTHER SUBMODALITIES - and we also want to emphasize that our approach has training programs and workshops currently in several countries, both in Europe and North America. (8 countries right now)

Another reason is that working on this documentation and validation provides another good opportunity for ourselves to challenge and clarify our approach.

Finally, we are clearly interested in maintaining an open and fruitful dialogue with both EABP and EAP, just as we similarly work on gaining recognition from the academic psychology and the established psychotherapy.

We have earlier stated points of view like these in professional contexts and also once in the Journal for the Danish Psychologist Association: (In danish: Psychologists News) PSYKOLOGNYT:

Bodil Claesson, Lisbeth Steen Jensen and Lennart Ollars:

Kropsrelateret psykoterapi. (BODYRELATED PSYCHOTHERAPY) Dansk Psykolog Nyt 1999 p. 16 - 19