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Reichian body-oriented psychotherapy (RBOP), also referred to as bioenergetic analysis, is a form of body psychotherapy based upon the work of Wilhelm Reich. It was developed by Alexander Lowen and John Pierrakos, both patients and students of Reich. It can also be termed as a very specific kind of body psychotherapy which is based upon the continuity between body and mind. Skeptics consider this form of body psychotherapy to be pseudoscience.
This form of body psychotherapy adds a number of innovations to the classic methods, these innovations include emphasis on the importance of grounding (i.e. being in strong contact with the ground through feet and legs) and on psychoanalytic theories such as transference, countertransference, dreams, slips of the tongue and Oedipal issues.
It also places even greater emphasis on sexual fulfillment than Reichian psychotherapy.
The idea behind current bioenergetic practice is that blocks to emotional expression and wellness are revealed and expressed in the body as chronic muscle tensions which are often subconscious. The blocks are treated by combining bioenergetically designed physical exercises, affective expressions and palpation of the muscular tensions.
Therapists provide a safe and nurturing environment to create an atmosphere that allows people to open up, and they listen to the story that the bodies of people are telling by identifying patterns of posture, breathing, and expression. As part of Bioenergetic Analysis therapy, practitioners conduct body work to address the manifestations of tension that are not helpful, doing relational work throughout treatment.
Therapists may utilize unique and varied techniques in order to help those they are treating achieve good results, including:
- Grounding. The therapist asks the person in therapy to attune to the flow of the energy from their body to the ground.
- Movement. The therapist encourages expression through movement, especially body parts where tension is held. A person may be encouraged to repeatedly kick a mattress to remove tension.
- Containing. The therapist asks the person in therapy to refrain from certain movements until they are analyzed to explore the feelings behind the desired movement.
- Supportive Body Contact. The therapist uses therapeutic touch to call attention to body tension or support the person in adjusting to safe touch.
During identifying the problems of mind the therapist can provoke responses and identify negative thought patterns and emotions. The therapist also examines how these psychological changes are affecting the physical body and provide relaxation techniques.
The term bioenergetic has a well established meaning in biochemistry and cell biology. Its use in RBOP has been criticized as "ignoring the already well established universal consensus about energy existing in Science."
The concept of grounding has been criticized as pseudoscience by skeptics and the medical community. A review of the available literature on the subject was written by several people that are financially tied to the company espousing the practice of earthing. Steven Novella referred to the work as, "The studies are typical of the kind of worthless studies designed to generate false positives—the kind of in-house studies that companies sometimes use so that they can claim their products are clinically proven."
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- About Bioenergetic Psychotherapy
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