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Body therapy: method, goals, areas of application

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 329 views

The term body therapy includes various therapeutic methods. All try to restore the physical and mental balance by working with the body. Because certain movements and touches, conscious breathing and careful handling of your own body promote mental and physical health. Read here how body therapy works and when it is suitable.

What is body therapy?

Muscle tension, back pain and other musculoskeletal disorders are among the most common reasons for employees being unable to work. Although physically demanding work is not as common today as it used to be, we still put a strain on our bodies every day: a lifestyle with little exercise, frequent sitting and high levels of stress directly affects physical and mental health.

With a body therapy – also called body-oriented, body-centered or body therapy – countermeasures can then be taken. Attempts are made to improve the patient’s health through targeted exercises. Physiotherapy and pure massage treatments, the patient is encouraged to actively and attentively deal with his body.

There is a wide range of schools and methods that fall under the term body therapy. These include, for example, Qigong or functional relaxation. In recent years, body therapies have become increasingly important. In many clinics they are already an integral part of the treatment.

body psychotherapy

In the field of psychotherapy there is also body psychotherapy. Here the focus is on the close interplay between psyche and body:

Our mental state affects the body, for example, when we are nervous and breathe faster. Conversely, we can also influence the body via the psyche by breathing calmly and thereby reducing nervousness. The connection between body and soul is particularly evident in psychosomatic disorders. These are disorders in which psychological problems are expressed through physical symptoms.

The body psychotherapist combines psychotherapeutic methods with physical exercises. Beginning with body perception exercises to breathing exercises and psychophysiological stress management methods, body psychotherapy offers techniques and exercises for a wide variety of problems.

When do you do body therapy?

Body therapy is helpful for many physical ailments. If you suffer from pain, you should first consult a doctor to clarify possible physical causes. However, many people suffer from headaches, stomach or back pains for which no cause is ever found.

Physical therapy can also support the psychotherapeutic process in the case of psychological problems. If you want to use body therapy for psychological reasons, you should pay attention to the training of the body therapist. The term body therapy is not protected by law. Only medical or psychological psychotherapists and alternative practitioners for psychotherapy have the appropriate training to be able to treat mental disorders.

cost of physical therapy

The costs of physical therapy are not covered by health insurance. However, if behavioral or psychodynamic therapists integrate physical therapy techniques into psychotherapy, they can bill the health insurance companies for the treatment. Whether private health insurance companies cover the costs depends on the respective contract. Inquire about this in advance!

What do you do with body therapy?

The methods used in physical therapy are very diverse. Body therapists usually represent certain schools that use different methods. Below you will find a small selection of schools that belong to physical therapy and their methods:

Sensorimotor body therapy according to Dr. Pohl (Pohltherapy®)

The psychological psychotherapist Helga Pohl developed the sensorimotor body therapy. It is suitable for patients with chronic pain, mobility problems or physical complaints that have no organic cause (e.g. constant abdominal pain ). Depression and anxiety, states of exhaustion and burnout are also diagnoses where Pohltherapy® can be tried.

Sensorimotor body therapy exercises strengthen mindful handling of the body. Because patients often do not see or recognize the reason for their pain. A permanent tension in the shoulders or a crooked posture can have far-reaching consequences.

The sensory body therapist works on the problem areas with targeted touches and movements. The patient can also do some exercises themselves. A typical exercise might involve tensing and relaxing muscles to loosen up and learn the difference between a healthy state and a tight one.

The treatment of the connective tissue is also part of the sensorimotor body therapy. The body therapist works on the skin with rolling movements. At the end of the sensorimotor body therapy, the patient should be aware of unfavorable postures or movements and should feel comfortable and relaxed in his body.

rose method

This method comes from the physiotherapist Marion Rosen. As a healing source, touching the hands is the focus of the treatment. It is a psycho-spiritual approach in which the physical therapist releases blockages in the patient’s consciousness through their touch. Tensions in the body are interpreted as an expression of suppressed feelings.

Skan body therapy

The Skan body therapy (Skan is a word from the language of the Lakota Indians and means: what moves) has its roots in depth psychology. The main goal in Skan body therapy is to dissolve blockages in the body. With the help of breathing exercises, certain movements and touching, the natural flow of energy in the body is to be restored.

Integrative body therapy

Integrative body therapy evolved from Gestalt therapy and was developed for people with intellectual disabilities. Patients should learn to express themselves through their bodies and to find a connection to themselves. To do this, the therapist uses physical exercises that meet the needs of the patient. For example, a restless patient is given calm exercises that give them a sense of security.


The Rolfing method of the biochemist Ida Rolf is about working on the connective and muscle tissue. The body therapist activates the connective tissue by moving slowly over the skin. This method is helpful for tenseness in the body, posture problems and joint problems, among other things.

Functional Relaxation

In functional relaxation, the therapist draws attention to certain parts of the body. The patient can perceive changes in the body through focusing. He learns to let go of his breathing and relax in his body.


The word Qigong comes from the Chinese and means “work with life energy”. The central elements are careful handling of breathing, movements, posture and concentration. The exercises consist of slow flowing movements, holding certain body positions or meditative moments of sitting still. The exercises should activate the body’s self-healing mechanisms.

What are the risks of physical therapy?

Working with the body requires extensive knowledge and a certain amount of experience from the therapist. Not all exercises are suitable for all patients. Incorrect use can be too stressful or even result in injury. Older people in particular can become overburdened by excessive activity.

Some patients find it difficult to allow themselves to be moved by the therapist during the passive exercises. If the patient cramps while the therapist is performing movements, pain or injury may occur. However, well-trained body therapists pay attention to the patient’s resistance and address it.

Patients who have had traumatic experiences can be reminded of them by touching their bodies. If physical therapy triggers strong emotional reactions in those affected, it may need to be discontinued. The therapist then initially works in a conversation to stabilize the patient.

What do I have to consider after body therapy?

Body therapy can be not only physically but also mentally challenging. Therefore, allow enough time to process the sessions.

Also pay attention to how your body feels after the body therapy. If you feel pain that won’t go away, be sure to let the therapist know. If in doubt, you should also seek medical advice.

When doing exercises at home, be careful never to force movements. During body therapy exercises, try to work with and not against your body.

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