TRAINING CURRICULUM – Abstract
Bioenergetic analysis was founded by Alexander Lowen, M.D., and he established the Institute for Bioenergetic Analysis in 1956. The first training manual for bioenergetic analysis was formulated around 1972, based, necessarily, upon the understanding of bioenergetic therapy at that time. A second curriculum was organized around the theme “back to basics” in 1988, reaffirming the importance of the energetic perspective and work with the body. This third basic curriculum arises from the need to emphasize and make more explicit the relational dimension of bioenergetic analysis in both teaching and practice. Attachment and bonding are of crucial importance in both the origin of emotional illness and the conduct of therapy. There is a need to integrate in practice and teaching the relational work required to deal with trauma and deficit of early attachment issues.
A: DEFINITION OF BIOENERGETIC ANALYSIS
In bioenergetic analysis, personality functions and therapeutic processes are understood in terms of the energetic processes of the body. This is the unique, distinguishing feature of bioenergetic analysis as a theory and as a therapy. Bioenergetic analysis is a deep analytic, self-oriented – relational –– body psychotherapy. It is not just “body work,” nor is it psychoanalysis with some body exercises as an added ingredient. The three dimensions of human reality, – psychic, relational, and bodily – are all recognized in the therapeutic situation and procedures.
“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.”
Mobilization of the energetic processes of the body is the axis around which other dimensions of therapy articulate. Bioenergetic analysis is a system of therapy with a theory and a set of techniques arising from that theory. It can be applied in diverse clinical situations. It is not a set of techniques having a mechanical application. New developments and variations are possible within bioenergetic analysis, and therapeutic efficacy depends on the skill of the clinician.
B: BASIC PRINCIPALS OF BIOENERGETIC ANALYSIS
- All affective human experiences are body events.
- Energetic processes (vibrancy, excitation, pulsation, flow, streaming, centering, containment) underlie and determine affective experiences. Energetic processes constitute the foundation of the psychosomatic unity of a person. This perspective is not dependent on a specific conception of the nature of energy.
- Intrapsychic, relational, and physical processes are fundamentally related and in mutual interaction. This means that, while one deals directly with one dimension, it includes the others indirectly.
- The focus in the clinical approach is upon the connection between the energetic process of the body and the analytical and relational process of the therapeutic procedure. The key to understanding personality is bodily expression.
- The history of a person is structured in the form and motility of the body. Trauma, deficits, and conflicts are understood in a developmental context as the origin of emotional disturbances and characterological defenses.
- Change in personality is based on an energetic change in the form and motility of the body, along with changes in relational patterns and personal expressivity.
- The individuality of the person is emphasized, not the character type.
- Sexuality and attachment are the cornerstones of personhood.
- Relationality is a fundamental component of the therapeutic process.
- Every therapeutic process occurs within the context of a relationship, which implies that:
– therapy is not just what the therapist does but who the therapist is, in relation to the patient, and
– that relationship within the therapeutic process is central to the success of the therapy. ‘Relational’ refers to the interaction between client and therapist as they form a psychological system.Personal therapy, as well as continued experiential body work are pillars of the training process.The goal of the training is to help each trainee to develop him/herself as a “therapeutic person”, which means having the capacity to provide a safe, contact full therapeutic container for therapeutic work.
- The relational dimension of bioenergetic analysis has always been considered to be a central therapeutic agent. The interactions between patient and therapist are central in therapeutic work. These principals are inherent in the character analytic approach of Wilhelm Reich, from which bioenergetic analysis originates.
- Attachment and affective attunement concepts and research add new meaning to the importance of therapeutic relationship.
- The acquisition and development of the self are determined by early bonding experiences. A primary “interactive emotional regulation” is a fundamental mechanism of psychobiological development.
- To be a therapeutic person requires the ability to attune to the client’s relational needs and to be partner of interactive emotional regulation in order to develop a relationship with the client that is new, real, specific and promoting psychic growth.
- Through the therapist’s attunement to the client’s body and rhythm, developmental levels of functioning and relationship needs, an interpersonal relationship is formed influencing both parties in a dialectical interplay between two subjectivities.
- The importance of relational work needed to heal attachment and bonding deficits depends on their severity.
- Effective teaching stems from the teacher’s experiences gained through working with his/her own body and his/her own character and attachment patterns. Effective therapy and supervision have the same basis.
CONTENTS OF THE CURRICULUM
Understanding the fundamentals of bioenergetics
- Bioenergetic analysis: History and basic concepts
- Bioenergetic analysis: basic issues
- Bioenergetic Analysis: basic tools
- Study of anatomy
- Neuro-physiology related to emotions
Understanding the developmental process and the associated deficits, traumas, conflicts
- The Prenatal, Natal, and Immediate Postnatal tasks
- The Intermediate task
- The Genital and Oedipal tasks
- Tasks of Adolescence
- Towards an Understanding of Character
- Character Structures
- Character and culture
The setting of bioenergetic analysis
The bioenergetic analysis session
The therapeutic process: Generalities
- The uniqueness of the individual
- The nature of the therapy process
- The question of illness
The therapeutic process: The therapeutic process relationship
- Working with resistances
- Working with defenses
- Working with sexuality
- Working with transference and countertransference
The therapeutic process: The therapeutic phases
- Beginning issues
- The treatment process
- Terminating issues
- Adult development
- Sexual abuse and its consequences
- Crisis intervention
- Psychosomatic diseases
- Shock and post traumatic stress disorders (PTSD)
- Bioenergetic analysis and others specific pathologies
- New cutting edge topics