The Mind Body Approach to Psychotherapy and Counseling

Psychotherapy for the Mind and the Body

Traditional approaches to psychotherapy and counseling primarily focus on talking about one's behavior, feeling and describing emotions, and thinking and conceptualizing in an attempt to understand and integrate one's experience.

These are powerful tools, but they cannot reach the whole of one's experience, particularly the experience of living as a physical body. A mind-body approach to psychotherapy listens to the words and thoughts and feelings AND welcomes the wisdom of the body.

The Mind-Body Approach: The Wisdom of the Body

The body has much to "say" – including expressions of stress, anxiety, depression, sadness, anger. All emotions and feelings are embodied, meaning they are experienced primarily in the body. With anger, we say "I saw red;" for sadness we speak of a weight upon the chest; we experience anxiety as restlessness, jumpiness, a startle response; depression may be experienced as a bodily feeling of heaviness and deep fatigue. Words that name emotions are secondary to their experience in the body.

The Mind-Body Approach to Stress, Depression and Anxiety

The mind-body approach invites the body to contribute to the therapy process, and sees the body as a fundamental resource. We ignore the wisdom of our bodies at our peril. Much stress, depression, and anxiety results from ignoring or rejecting the many messages the body is sending. Meeting the needs of the body and helping the body to relax are profound aspects of the mind-body approach.

The Mind-Body Approach: A Powerful Intervention for Sexual Difficulties

The mind-body approach combines traditional talk therapy with practices that enable the body to relax and explore new ways of being. This is particularly effective in working with sexual concerns. The mind holds such powerful sway over the sexual experience of the body that it can result in sexual difficulties. Combining relaxation and a mindful approach to the body with the resolution of troubling emotions can free individuals and couples to enjoy sexual expression that is balanced and mutually satisfying.