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Number of gestalt approaches to bodywork focus primarily on the therapist’s awareness of the client’s body sensations. After gestalists Jim Kepner and Ruella Frank, who each developed an original use of body processes, Julianna Appel Opper goes further.
By helping the therapist focus on how he or she physically resonates with the story expressed by the patient’s body, Julianne Appel Opper allows us to enter into a “living body to living body” communication that accesses the implicit and sensitive relational knowledge operating in the relationship. This communication is a very powerful method to support healing and change
This profoundly incarnated and situated way of setting bodily processes in motion thus comes to nourish in return the relational turn taken by contemporary Gestalt therapy.
The aim of this seminar is to provide a framework and practical skills that allow participants to identify the body resonances that are generated by the therapeutic relationship and to organize them into non-verbal interventions.
This seminar is experiential, with a maximum of 25 participants; it is a rare opportunity to work with this finesse and depth on the whole carnal implicitness engaged between therapist and client.
Julianne Appel-Opper: Psychologist, psychotherapist, Gestalt therapist, supervisor and international trainer. Currently working in Germany.
She is accredited by the UKCP (United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy), member of IARPP (International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy), UKAHPP (United Kingdom Association of Humanistic Psychology Practitioners), and BPS (British Psychological Society).
Many Gestalt approaches of body-work are largely based on the awaress of the therapist about the body feelings of his/her patient.
Following the gestalt-therapists Jim Kepner and Ruella Franck who each have developed an original use of the body processes, Julianne Appel Opper leads us a bit further on.
By helping the therapist focusing on how his/her body resonates with the history that the body of his/her patient is telling, Julianne Appel Opper allows us to enter into a live-body-to-live-body communication, and thus allows us to access the implicit and sensitive knowledge which is operating into the relationship.
This communication is a very powerful method to support healing and change.
And then, this deeply embodied and situated way to set off the body processes nourishes back the relational turn of contemporary Gestalt therapy.
"Clients bring with them their pre-verbal relational knowledge implicit in our offices. The way the client enters the room, looks at us, sits, moves, all his gestures tell us about their relational rhythms and melodies. Their bodies tell the story around them of how they were looked at, held and touched, whether they were comforted and encouraged or abused and mistreated.
The living body uses a certain language: a motionless shoulder, a lost gaze, a way of looking for breath, a tenuous movement say something. As therapists we react physically to these body narratives. They reach us skin to skin, heart to heart, muscle to muscle with little or no mediation of a cognitive or reflexive process and we react to them in an unintentional way. With small movements: we step back, we hold our breath, we stretch, we look away, and suddenly we are cold. I firmly believe that all these resonances of the therapist also send something to the client. This motivated my exploration of this embodied and permanent communication between therapist and client. My goal was to find a way to bring this rich, often unnoticed communication into the light of the therapeutic space.
The result is a body-based approach to psychotherapy that I have named “Relational Living Body Psychotherapy” (RLBP) and about which I have already published several articles in the UK (Appel-Opper, 2008a, 2008b, 2009).
Many concepts related to body psychotherapy focus on the awareness of the client’s body resonances and sensations. The therapist’s physical resonances, reactions - such as subtle changes in posture, gestures, or movements - are generally either used as sources of information about the client (Joyece & Stills, 2001) or viewed as a body countertransference (Soth, 2006).
I believe it is insufficient to simply become aware of the physical resonances of the therapist and/or client. It seems more effective to develop embodied interventions that then act as a healing communication, from living body to living body. I see this non-verbal communication between therapist and client as a co-creation in which each connects and refers to the other. The client’s bodily narratives co-create resonances in the therapist, which in turn co-create resonances in the client. In RLBP psychotherapy, the therapist brings his or her own body resonances into the therapeutic space, thus affirming - from body to body - what the client’s body narratives convey. This is an important part of RLBP psychotherapy because it encourages the client’s body to continue talking. (...)"
Appel-Opper, J. (2012), Psychotherapy of the Relational Living Body: From Physical Resonances to Embodied Interventions and Experiences. in Young, C.(Ed) (2012). About Relational Body Psychotherapy. Stow, Galashiels, http://www.bodypsychotherapypublications.com/titles_BPP-3.html, Translation IDeT, 2019, https://www.idet.paris/IMG/pdf/psychothe_rapie_du_corps_vivant_relationnel_2012_2019.pdf