What is Bioenergetics?

Integrating Mind, Body and Emotions.

“It integrates a work with the body, with the patient’s interpersonal relationships, and with his mental processes; each of which is correlated and interpreted in terms of the others…. Bioenergetic Analysis starts with the reality of the body and its basic functions of motility and expression.”
– Alexander Lowen, Founder of Bioenergetics

Bioenergetics is a form of psychotherapy practiced by licensed psychotherapists with specialized training.  It blends traditional therapeutic methods with body-centered techniques to help people resolve their emotional problems and enhance their well-being.  Symptoms of unhappiness and stress, such as insomnia, depression, anxiety, panic attacks and decreased sexuality, often are the result of unmet developmental needs, blocked emotional expression and chronic muscular tension.

Bioenergetic therapy offers an integrated, effective, relational approach to address these common manifestations of early wounding, distress, and dysfunction.  At the heart of Bioenergetics is a deep conviction that there is a mind-body correlation for many psychological problems.  It makes use of the connection created in the therapeutic relationship to be the foundation that supports the process of healing.  It often includes work with body contact, boundaries, grounding, and the understanding of muscular tensions as indications of somatic and psychological defenses against past trauma.  The goal is more than the absence of symptoms – it is having aliveness, getting a taste of pleasure, joy, love – vibrant health.

Interview with Alexander Lowen, founder of Bioenergetics where he talks about the body-mind split

© Lowen Foundation

“When you have no words for your feelings, for what happened to you, for what is missing in you, we listen to the inner resonance – of your inchoate secrets – as it lives in your body. We help you to sense and amplify this inner resonance until its movement comes close enough to the surface of your being to enter your consciousness. But we also listen carefully to your words and are touched by them when they come from a depth of your being that no one can put a hand on. We invite you to surrender to the spirit of your body and the body of your spirit – and in so doing, to embrace your true self.”
–  Robert Lewis, M.D

From Joy, by Alexander Lowen

Joy, by Alexander Lowen

Joy, the surrender to the body and to life by Alexander Lowen

Bioenergetic Analysis is based on the concept that a person is a unitary being and that what happens in the mind must also be happening in the body. Thus, if a person is depressed with thoughts of despair, helplessness and failure, his body will manifest a similar depressed attitude, evident in decreased impulse formation, reduced mobility and restricted breathing. All bodily functions will be depressed, including metabolism, resulting in lowered energy production.

Of course, the mind can influence the body just as the body affects the mind. It is possible in some cases to improve one’s bodily functioning through a change in one’s mental attitude, but any change so induced will be temporary unless the underlying bodily processes are significantly changed.  On the other hand, directly improving bodily functions such as breathing, moving, feeling and self-expression has an immediate and lasting effect on one’s mental attitude. In the final analysis, increasing a person’s energy is the fundamental change which the therapeutic process must produce if it is to reach its goal of freeing an individual from the restrictions of his past and the inhibitions of the present.

The aim of therapy is to help an individual recover the full potential of his being…. All patients suffer from some limitation in their self-hood: a limited self-awareness, a restricted self-expression and a reduced sense of self-possession.  These basic functions are the pillars of the temple of the self.  Their weakness creates an insecurity in the personality which undermines all the individual’s efforts to find the peace and joy which give life it’s fullest satisfaction and deepest meaning.

See also:

Important Bioenergetic Organizations

About Living Ubuntu

We are a non-profit organization with a focus on mind-body issues, specifically health and well-being, and the effects of stress, trauma and compassion fatigue. We seek to increase awareness of the global and local impact of these issues, build a sense of community, and encourage living a more fully embodied life.

Find more more about us at http://livingubuntu.org/.


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