Earlier approaches to body psychotherapy focused on breaking down defensive barriers in the physical body to work with psychological experiences such as emotions. Current approaches to integrating the physical body into mainstream psychology focus primarily on its regulation, akin to psychiatry’s focus on regulation of the brain as the cure for every problem. In both efforts, what is missing is the adequate understanding of the role of the physical body in generating as well as defending against psychological experiences such as cognition and emotion, available from over a hundred years of scientific research.
Working well with the physical body psychologically is not just about working with it physiologically in relation to stress or trauma. And working with stress or trauma or any other psychological experience such as emotion in the physical body is not just about regulating the dysregulation or reducing the stress in it, or completing incomplete movements, discharging high arousal, or expressing emotions forcefully.
Successful embodiment of complex psychological experiences require a) the ability to work with all basic experiences (perception, cognition, memory, imagination, emotion, and behavior) in relation to the physical body, b) the understanding of how the physical body is involved in generating as well as defending against such basic experiences as well as complex psychological experiences such as attachment, c) the ability to regulate the physical body only to the extent necessary when working with basic and complex psychological experiences without destroying the very experience one is working with, and d) the availability of a variety of tools such as awareness, breath, and movement that can be easily integrated into different therapeutic or spiritual settings.