THE WISDOM OF THE BODY FOR PSYCHOTHERAPISTS
A series of workshops for psychotherapists and counsellors with
Michael Gavin and Brian Stirner
There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy Nietzsche
Our bodies communicate to us clearly and specifically, if we are willing to listen to them. Shakti Gawain
EveryBodyKnows is a project imagined, and now realised by two Certified Body Psychotherapists with decades of experience between them. We want to share with our colleagues in the “talking therapies” some of the mysteries of our craft, to enrich, to enliven and to make safer the process of therapy, and to make more accessible and intelligible the whispers from uncertain world of embodied experience.
Recent developments in psychotherapy, in areas such as Neuroscience, Mindfulness, Trauma and Energy Work, have brought the body and what it has to tell us out of the closet and into the limelight.
Authors like Antonio Damasio (The Feeling of What Happens), Allan Shore (Affect Regulation Trilogy, The Science of the Art of Psychotherapy), and Dan Siegel (The Mindful Therapist etc.) among others, confirm this central importance of somatic experience.
Many concepts in the foreground of contemporary psychotherapy – empathy, attunement, affect regulation, mindfulness, “vitality effects” (Stern), “a state of vitalising attunement” (Schore), involve capacities that depend on a sensitivity to our own and our clients “somatically expressed affects”(Schore).
With Psychoanalytic Energy Psychotherapy Phil Mollon takes a bold step beyond “talking therapy.”
In particular in the field of trauma the body has been afforded a central role by many leading authorities: Babette Rothschild (The Body Remembers), Van der Kolk (The Body Keeps the Score), Peter Levine, founder of Somatic Experiencing, (In an Unspoken Voice, Waking the Tiger) Pat Ogden (Trauma and the Body.)
How can you the practitioner learn to recognise and give due significance to body experience – your own and your clients’ or patients’ – in your clinical practice?
How does any of us learn our craft? Of course we must study, attend trainings, and carry out supervised practice; but isn’t the heart of our learning the holistic experience of “being in therapy” in the modality that we are preparing to practice? This experience creates implicit and procedural memories that underlie our conceptual understandings, and gives us (to borrow Damasio’s phrase) “a feeling of what happens” in therapy.
We are the more firmly convinced of this because of our own experience of extended analysis (under the aegis of Freud and Jung respectively), which, seconded by reading and study though not by formal training, has deeply enriched our own clinical practice and frame of reference.
In most trainings, and in most of the personal work of practitioners, the body has not been in the foreground. What is the remedy?
Having attended, with enjoyment and enlightenment, seminars by luminaries such as Allan Schore, Dan Siegel and others, we have come to believe that there is even more to be done to integrate body experience into therapeutic practice than simply thinking about it and talking about it, or indeed reading about.
As body psychotherapists, of course, we have a training in and an experience of our own body focused therapy that steeps us in somatic experience. However, we are not proposing that everyone should undertake a course of body psychotherapy!
It is our plan to create a series of experiences that will enable people to get more deeply into touch with their own body experience and how it resonates with others. In this way we hope they may be able to develop a greater appreciation for and engagement with the Wisdom of the Body as something real, informative and personal.
Our forthcoming workshop is the first step in this programme.
This post has been recovered from early 2015, in preparation for our first workshop in March 2015.