email page print pageAll Topic Reviews
Maximizing Effectiveness in Dynamic Psychotherapy Self-Compassion in Psychotherapy101 Healing StoriesA Clinician's Guide to Legal Issues in PsychotherapyA Map of the MindA Primer for Beginning PsychotherapyACT With LoveActive Treatment of DepressionAffect Regulation, Mentalization, and the Development of SelfAlready FreeBad TherapyBecoming an Effective PsychotherapistBefore ForgivingBeing a Brain-Wise TherapistBetrayed as BoysBeyond Evidence-Based PsychotherapyBeyond MadnessBeyond PostmodernismBinge No MoreBiofeedback for the BrainBipolar DisorderBody PsychotherapyBoundaries and Boundary Violations in PsychoanalysisBrain Change TherapyBrain Science and Psychological DisordersBrain-Based Therapy with AdultsBrain-Based Therapy with Children and AdolescentsBrief Adolescent Therapy Homework PlannerBrief Child Therapy Homework PlannerBrief Therapy Homework PlannerBuffy the Vampire Slayer and PhilosophyBuilding on BionCare of the PsycheCase Studies in DepressionCaught in the NetChild and Adolescent Treatment for Social Work PracticeChoosing an Online TherapistChronic DepressionClinical Dilemmas in PsychotherapyClinical Handbook of Psychological DisordersClinical Intuition in PsychotherapyClinical Pearls of WisdomCo-Creating ChangeCognitive Therapy for Challenging ProblemsCompassionConfessions of a Former ChildConfidential RelationshipsConfidentiality and Mental HealthConfidingContemplative Psychotherapy EssentialsControlConversations About Psychology and Sexual OrientationCoping with BPDCouch FictionCounseling in GenderlandCounseling with Choice TheoryCouple SkillsCrazy for YouCreating a Life of Meaning and CompassionCreating HysteriaCritical Issues in PsychotherapyCrucial Choices, Crucial ChangesDeafness In MindDecoding the Ethics CodeDeconstructing PsychotherapyDeep Brain StimulationDemystifying TherapyDepression 101Depression in ContextDialogues on DifferenceDissociative ChildrenDo-It-Yourself Eye Movement Techniques for Emotional HealingDoing CBTE-TherapyEarly WarningEncountering the Sacred in PsychotherapyEnergy Psychology InteractiveErrant SelvesEssays on Philosophical CounselingEssentials of Wais-III AssessmentEthically Challenged ProfessionsEthics and Values in PsychotherapyEthics in Plain EnglishEthics in Psychotherapy and CounselingExpectationExploring the Self through PhotographyExpressing EmotionFacing Human SufferingFairbairn's Object Relations Theory in the Clinical SettingFamily TherapyFavorite Counseling and Therapy Homework AssignmentsFear of IntimacyFlourishingFolie a DeuxForms of Intersubjectivity in Infant Reasearch and Adult TreatmentFoundations of Ethical Practice, Research, and Teaching in PsychologyFreud and the Question of PseudoscienceFrom Morality to Mental HealthFundamentals of Psychoanalytic TechniqueGenes on the CouchGod & TherapyHalf Empty, Half FullHandbook of Clinical Psychopharmacology for TherapistsHandbook of Counseling and Psychotherapy with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual ClientsHandbook of Evidence-Based Therapies for Children and AdolescentsHealing the Heart and Mind with MindfulnessHeinz KohutHelping Children Cope With Disasters and TerrorismHigh RiskHistory of PsychotherapyHow Clients Make Therapy WorkHow People ChangeHow Psychotherapists DevelopHow to Fail As a TherapistHow to Go to TherapyHypnosis for Inner Conflict ResolutionHypnosis for Smoking CessationI Never Promised You a Rose GardenIf Only I Had KnownIn Others' EyesIn SessionIn Therapy We TrustIn Treatment: Season 1Incorporating Spirituality in Counseling and PsychotherapyInside the SessionInside TherapyIs Long-Term Therapy Unethical?Issues in Philosophical CounselingIt's Not as Bad as It SeemsItís Your HourLearning from Our MistakesLearning Supportive PsychotherapyLetters to a Young TherapistLife CoachingLogotherapy and Existential AnalysisLove's ExecutionerMadness and DemocracyMaking the Big LeapMan's Search for MeaningMetaphoria: Metaphor and Guided Metaphor for Psychotherapy and HealingMind GamesMindfulness and AcceptanceMindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for DepressionMindworks: An Introduction to NLPMockingbird YearsMoments of EngagementMomma and the Meaning of LifeMotivational Interviewing: Preparing People For ChangeMulticulturalism and the Therapeutic ProcessMultifamily Groups in the Treatment of Severe Psychiatric DisordersNarrative PracticeOn the CouchOne Nation Under TherapyOur Inner WorldOur Last Great IllusionOutsider ArtOvercoming Destructive Beliefs, Feelings, and BehaviorsOverexposedPathways to SpiritualityPersonality and PsychotherapyPhilosophical CounselingPhilosophical Counselling and the UnconsciousPhilosophical Issues in Counseling and PsychotherapyPhilosophical PracticePhilosophy and PsychotherapyPhilosophy for Counselling and PsychotherapyPhilosophy PracticePhilosophy's Role in Counseling and PsychotherapyPillar of SaltPlan BPlato, Not Prozac!Polarities of ExperiencesPower GamesPractical Psychoanalysis for Therapists and PatientsPrinciples and Practice of Sex TherapyPsychologists Defying the CrowdPsychology, Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis, and the Politics of Human RelationshipsPsychosis in the FamilyPsychotherapyPsychotherapyPsychotherapy and ConfidentialityPsychotherapy As PraxisPsychotherapy for Children and AdolescentsPsychotherapy for Personality DisordersPsychotherapy Is Worth ItPsychotherapy Isn't What You ThinkPsychotherapy with Adolescent Girls and Young WomenPsychotherapy with Children and AdolescentsPsychotherapy without the SelfPsychotherapy, American Culture, and Social PolicyRapid Cognitive TherapyRational Emotive Behavior TherapyRational Emotive Behavior TherapyRationality and the Pursuit of HappinessRebuilding Shattered LivesReclaiming Our ChildrenRecovery OptionsRelationalityRent Two Films and Let's Talk in the MorningSaving the Modern SoulScience and Pseudoscience in Clinical PsychologySecond-order Change in PsychotherapySelf-Compassion in PsychotherapySelf-Determination Theory in the ClinicSelf-Disclosure in Psychotherapy and RecoverySerious ShoppingSex, Therapy, and KidsSexual Orientation and Psychodynamic PsychotherapySigns of SafetySoul Murder RevisitedStaring at the SunStraight to JesusStrangers to OurselvesSubjective Experience and the Logic of the OtherTaking America Off DrugsTales of PsychotherapyTales of UnknowingTalk is Not EnoughTalking Cures and Placebo EffectsTelling SecretsThe Behavioral Medicine Treatment PlannerThe Body in PsychotherapyThe Brief Couples Therapy Homework Planner with DiskThe Case Formulation Approach to Cognitive-Behavior TherapyThe Challenge for Psychoanalysis and PsychotherapyThe Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe Clinical Child Documentation SourcebookThe Clinical Documentation SourcebookThe Complete Adult Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe Couch and the TreeThe Couples Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe Crucible of ExperienceThe Cure of SoulsThe Death of PsychotherapyThe Education of Mrs. BemisThe Ethical Treatment of DepressionThe Ethics of PsychoanalysisThe Gay and Lesbian Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe Gift of TherapyThe Great Psychotherapy Debate: The Evidence for What Makes Psychotherapy Work The Healing JourneyThe Heart & Soul of ChangeThe Heroic ClientThe Husbands and Wives ClubThe Love CureThe Making of a TherapistThe Mindful TherapistThe Mirror Crack'dThe Mummy at the Dining Room TableThe Neuroscience of PsychotherapyThe Neuroscience of Psychotherapy: Healing the Social BrainThe New Rational TherapyThe Older Adult Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe Other Side of DesireThe Pastoral Counseling Treatment PlannerThe Philosopher's Autobiography The Pornographer's GriefThe Portable CoachThe Portable Ethicist for Mental Health Professionals The Present Moment in Psychotherapy and Everyday LifeThe Problem of EvilThe Problem with Cognitive Behavioural TherapyThe Psychodynamics of Gender and Gender RoleThe Psychotherapy Documentation PrimerThe Psychotherapy Documentation PrimerThe Psychotherapy of HopeThe Real World Guide to Psychotherapy PracticeThe Schopenhauer CureThe Sex Lives of TeenagersThe Talking CureThe Therapeutic "Aha!"The Therapist's Guide to PsychopharmacologyThe Therapist's Guide to Psychopharmacology, Revised EditionThe Therapist's Ultimate Solution BookThe Trauma of Everyday LifeThe Trouble with IllnessThe UnsayableThe Way of the JournalTheory and Practice of Brief TherapyTherapy with ChildrenTherapy's DelusionsTheraScribe 3.0 for WindowsTheraScribe 4.0Thinking about ThinkingThinking for CliniciansThinking for CliniciansThoughts Without a ThinkerThriveToward a Psychology of AwakeningTracking Mental Health OutcomesTrauma, Truth and ReconciliationTreating Attachment DisordersTreatment for Chronic DepressionTreatment Plans and Interventions for Depression and Anxiety DisordersUnderstanding Child MolestersUnspeakable Truths and Happy EndingsWhat the Buddha FeltWhat Works for Whom?What Works for Whom? Second EditionWhen the Body SpeaksWhispers from the EastWise TherapyWittgenstein and PsychotherapyWorking MindsWoulda, Coulda, ShouldaWriting About PatientsYoga Skills for Therapists:Yoga Therapy
Body psychotherapy is, as the name suggests, a form of therapy which is orientated towards the body of the person seeking therapy. Body PsychotherapyHistory Concepts Methods is a rich, expansive textbook for this field. It is full of fine detail; discussion of practice and theory as well as broader overviews and historical contextualization. Though the book has seven substantial parts plus a conclusion it divides roughly into three sections. The first deals with practical, spiritual and philosophical roots of body psychotherapy; the second with both peripheral and classical psychoanalytic influences on it; the third with specific past, present, and future forms of body psychotherapy.
Many contemporary forms of body psychotherapy have developed from Wilhelm Reich, its most famous theorist and practitioner of the last century, and we now have a bewildering array of body psychotherapy styles. Despite its size Heller's work is not exhaustive on this front -- there are forms of body psychotherapy which are merely mentioned, or not mentioned at all. This doesn't feel like a deficiency, not least because the book aims to bring the field into view from first principles rather than from an overview of all the different versions. Another motive to situating body psychotherapy in a tradition stretching back to Yoga may have to do with legitimacy. Heller's agenda is very sotto voce, absent but for the conclusion, but he is concerned by the ways in which clinical psychotherapy is under attack from those who prefer more empirically grounded forms of therapy. But we know that yoga is beneficial, and this body work is incorporated into body psychotherapy: this is the "robust tradition" which justifies its presence and development.
Of course legitimacy is not a main reason for including the likes of Yoga and Tai Chi Chuan. Heller looks at these practices in part I, where much time is devoted to Hath Yoga and the intricacies of Prana. The philosophical basis is described in part II, with chapters on Plato, Descartes, Spinoza, Hume and Kant. The import of the philosophy isn't always immediately apparent, but later on we find that Heller reads the philosophers back into the contemporary approaches. Part III looks at the conception of the human organism that emerges from the early evolutionary biologists. Parts IV, and V, take us through the peripheral and psychoanalytic influences upon body psychotherapy. Part VI starts to look at body psychotherapy proper with Reich and vegetotherapy.
The nonconscious is to some contemporary body psychotherapy what the unconscious was to psychoanalysis. Heller spends part VII describing work on nonconscious behavior and communication from the classic work of Gregory Bateson (1972) to current strands due to Beebee, Downing, Stern and Tronnick. Some parts of this nascent branch of body psychotherapy involve the recording and fine discrimination of body movements, down to a 1/5th of a second. The thought is that through the collection and coding of movements one can, after meeting and recording a new patient, tell if they match prior non-conscious behavioral schema; and so tell something about their present situation which may be clinically useful. Heller is good on the technical difficulties associated with this: billions of bits of data for every one hour session mean that currently there is a paucity of statistical significant conclusions. However, it felt like more needed to be said on the rationale for the research trajectory especially given that, in many cases, the therapist can come to reliable conclusions about the patient's situation without a corpus of data on the minutiae of their bodily movement. Time, and improvements in technology, will tell whether the promise of this route holds out.
The concluding section includes an interesting discussion of the epistemological differences between psychiatry and psychotherapy and the challenges that have developed from this difference. Clinical therapy loses its value in what has become a health "marketplace" which emphasizes forms of intervention deemed more scientific. As Heller notes, the distinction between scientific forms of therapy (i.e., psychiatry) and clinical forms in terms of which is better supported by evidence is both unhelpful and based on misunderstandings; for while psychiatry may have a better evidential base this does not entail that it is scientific: it may not elucidate the "invisible mechanisms that produce the predictable causal chains observed in empirical research". Nor should this imply that psychotherapy has no evidential base. Heller is here, as throughout, even-handed, noting that some of the epistemological challenges psychotherapy faces are due to the weight often given to charismatic figures within it, leading to problems in the way evidence for particular theoretical claims is chosen.
I liked the honesty of another of Heller's concluding remarks, namely that "No one really knows how psychotherapy functions". That, though it may work, no-one really understands the mechanisms by which it does. However, such a claim rather left me wondering about all the preceding chapters on post-Reichian therapy, with their assured theoretical posits. We get combined a proliferation of kinds of therapy along with a lack of understanding into why they work and one wonders why practitioners continue the bifurcation without getting to grips with the underlying mechanics. Heller's answer to this is to note that this just is the way in which psychotherapy develops: through the creation of schools. In a sense, though he would probably not like me co-opting this phrase, body psychotherapy involves a different kind of health marketplace: therapies for to suit all kinds of consumer preference.
Overall, a book rich with information for the body psychotherapy practitioner or student, one which will reward frequent returning to.
© 2013 Jack Darach
Jack Darach is doing research at the intersection of Epistemology, Action theory and Normativity.