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The effectiveness of body-oriented psychotherapy: A review of the literature

Citation (APA style): Bloch-Atefi, A., & Smith Melbourne, J. (2014). The effectiveness of body-oriented psychotherapy: A review of the literature. Psychotherapy and Counselling Journal of Australia.


“Body-oriented psychotherapy interventions” is an umbrella term for all psychotherapies “that explicitly use body techniques to strengthen the developing dialogue between patient and psychotherapist about what is being experienced and perceived … In most schools of body psychotherapy, the body is considered a means of communication and exploration.” Body-oriented or somatic psychotherapy is a very diverse field. The common theme is the connection between body and mind and the underlying premise that our relationship to ourselves, others, and the world is not only rooted in our mind and thoughts but also in our bodies. The focus of this literature review is on body-centered and somatic psychotherapies and is structured according to the modalities outlined below. These are the only empirically researched areas in the field.

  • Body-oriented psychotherapy interventions (including breathwork, relaxation therapies, sensorimotor psychotherapy, somatic experiencing, affect-focused body-psychotherapy, body awareness group therapy, body-oriented group psychotherapy, Gerda Boyesen’s body psychotherapy)
  • Acupoint tapping therapies (Emotional Freedom Techniques, Thought Field Therapy)
  • Touch therapies (Healing Touch, Therapeutic Touch)
  • Mindfulness-based therapy
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

Mindfulness-based therapy and EMDR are already established modalities and given the large body of existing research and the overlap with other modalities they have been excluded from the current review.

Keywords: body-oriented psychotherapy, acupoint tapping, Emotional Freedom Techniques, Thought Field Therapy, touch therapies, Healing Touch, Therapeutic Touch, mindfulness-based therapy, EMDR

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