Body-centred psychotherapy

Woman being body-centred on a tree in the woods

Do you feel uncomfortable with your body?

  • Is your body tense or does it ache and your doctors say you are all good?
  • Are there body perceptions and reactions that you cannot explain, that may even scare you?
  • Itching for yet another tattoo? Or do you even cut, burn or scratch your body at times?
  • Are you sometimes absent from your body, not feeling it at all?

Maybe you have tried talk psychotherapy in the past but you felt it did not go deep enough to get to the root of your issues. You may have a hunch that to truly get better you would need to deal with your body — not just your soul and mind — with body-centred psychotherapy.

You would like to feel relaxed and enjoy life to the fullest.

Our body remembers

Most people feel uneasy with their body at times. Our current lives are not adapted to who we humans have developed in evolution. To wit: We are well equipped to walk 50 km, but not to sit all day. In school we had to sit for hours instead of playing outside. That may result in habitual bad posture that aches but also short-sightedness.

Maybe we did not get enough cuddling as toddlers need, and now we have a hard time trusting others or enjoying an embrace or sensuality. Or severe violation of our boundaries or needs caused us to brace, and this stayed ever since then, not letting anyone near. We still may keep others at a distance with our body expression, clenching all sorts of places. This way you may not feel how badly you have been hurt but it also limits how well you may feel and how much you express joy to this day. And it does cap aliveness, keeps others away.

Early memories – body-centred psychotherapy can work with these

Many children and adolescents suffer from less than adequate circumstances when growing up. Already six year olds cannot remember early memories before the age of around two. This can explain why you may have body sensations you cannot connect to memories. These adaptions to circumstances at that time will stay, even when they are no more necessary, visible in posture, gesture, facial expression, voice and social engagement.

Even later in life sufficiently severe events will affect not just the soul and mind but also the body. Events such as accidents, surgery, separation from or the death of a loved one. The body remembers everything from birth and even before. Small and large bad events leave their marks in the body typically in the form of habitual tension, or lack of tension. All of these influences in life are frequent, that is affecting at least every tenth person.

Baby crying, fully body-centred expression
Baby in distress

Body-centred psychotherapy can help you feel comfortable in your body and let you enjoy life to the fullest

Because mind, soul and body are intimately connected

There is good evidence for the influence of the mind and soul on the body. And the other way round from the body to the mind and soul. We are whole beings from the very beginning. Body medicine had to acknowledge that the psyche has an influence on the body. Psychology had to acknowledge (again) that our soul and mind are embodied. This means that they live in a body. And they express through and are influenced by this body. Any psychology that ignores the body cannot be complete.

Man doing Tai Qi at sea - this works as body-centred psychotherapy
Body, mind and soul intimately connected just like in body-centred psychotherapy

An integrated approach to body-centred psychotherapy

My approach is an integrated one, from perceptions, emotions and thoughts to actions. The so-called unconscious expresses itself in body reactions and can be brought into consciousness. By that it will go deeper than a typical talk therapy, closer to the root of your issues, or if you wish to the remnants of earlier repercussions of your life. As memories of images or thoughts are not necessary because of the direct work on the body level, it is the only modality that will work for early issues such as early childhood trauma or attachment issues. It will also effect more profound change in your whole being when the body is included in psychotherapy, to the point of where one could say that if change has not arrived in the body, change has not happened yet.

A taste of a session

Two easy experiments that give a taste of what I might do in a first session of body-centred psychotherapy: Mimic a broad smile with your face for at least 60 seconds (courtesy of Prof. Vera Birkenbihl, video in German only). And then notice how you feel – you are bound to feel better. Or take a deep slow breath, and an even slower out-breath, and notice the changes in your body perceptions. Most people will feel their body a little more relaxed afterwards, more grounded, that is it will reduce emotional stress.

We will see which areas of your life could benefit from work when we first meet. We will take notice what currently shows in your body, go into your medical history, your health. School and work will be touched upon, relations, your material circumstances such as where you live, your values.

My training includes:

  • Transactional Analysis with its emphasis on feelings, thoughts and actions
  • Systemic Brief Therapy with strengths on systemic interventions and social systems
  • Integrative Therapy with strengths in feelings and body language
  • Somatic Experiencing with its emphasis on body perceptions and reactions.
  • The first two years of medical studies taught me the human body and its functions.
  • Complement that with my training in dancing as a hobby. It gave me an excellent felt sense of my body, and
  • Years of body-centred meditation heightened my awareness of the body and senses. If you have lived through horrors of life it helps me deal with strong emotions. So I can keep space for you.

Adapting therapy to your needs

Rest assured that I will tailor the therapy to your needs. And that I have heard quite a few stories out of the ordinary, so I know that real life sometimes brings events that night seem outrageous or outright unbelievable to less experienced therapists. I will not judge you, or make you feel out of place or broken in some way. I do welcome cooperation with your partner, your parents, children, teachers, doctors or specialised institutions. More severe issues require a good team of people who take care of you. Therefore I maintain a network of cooperation partners who I can call upon if needed.

You will find the modern rooms of our practice in the centre of Zurich, easily accessible by public transport. You may rest assured the therapy will be tailored to your exact needs. My broad experience and training with an emphasis on body-centred psychotherapy allow for that. We then will be able to work with confidence even in severe or complex cases, backed up by a network of cooperation partners like doctors and specialised institutions. I do work in four languages and am well acquainted with different cultures, sexual identities and orientations.

Maybe you consider body-centred psychotherapy but you still have questions

young woman watching - her mind and soul beautifully showing in a body-centred expression
Questions on body-centred psychotherapy?

Will body-centred therapy take forever and cost a fortune?

No to both accounts. Health insurance covers therapy for issues that count as illnesses. If you are willing to practice between our sessions, biweekly sessions will go a long way. Even severe cases can heal with weekly sessions.

Does body-centred psychotherapy mean being touched?

No. It means that I will frequently invite you to notice what is going on in your body. Somatic Experiencing works more precisely with your body than other psychotherapeutic methods. This often means less talk and more attention on the perception and expression with the body.

How can body-centred psychotherapy help my body get better when medical doctors did not succeed?

Just like a body problem can mimic any problem in the soul/mind such as having drunk too much alcohol produces a psychosis, a problem in the soul/mind can mimic a body problem like intense pain. It is therefore paramount to exclude body medical problems before or parallel to psychotherapy, for example when a strong headache appears for the first time in your life.

Body-centred psychotherapy is uniquely suited for mind and soul issues which affect your body. It works directly on that level. Body-centred psychotherapy in a way works on the most basic, oldest and earliest part of your being, which often is not accessible with other methods and not conscious.

Can you work on issues that I cannot connect to memories I have?

It is one of the strengths of Somatic Experiencing for example, that by being able to work directly on body perceptions it is not necessary to have an explicit memory beforehand. Resolutions are possible entirely on the body perception and expression level. This is the only way to work with early issues from early childhood as there are no explicit memories available.

Experience and track record

Having experienced a fair share of issues myself, and after almost twenty years in that field I usually know what to do and whom to involve even in extreme cases you might bring.

I have worked in institutions like a university psychiatric clinic, a larger psychiatric practice and a clinic for cancer out-patients first. In the last years my tasks were in a day clinic for refugees by the Swiss Red Cross, with groups of troubled children, a psychiatric practice specialised in sexual therapy, and a larger general practice. My current clients include children and adolescents landed in organised abuse, with major school problems or neglect, and grown-ups with a history of violence, medical trauma or abuse. That is, plenty of traumatic events, developmental trauma and attachment issues where body-centred psychotherapy is often the only effective treatment.

sail-boat-on-sea, needing full body-centred expression to navigate

Some typical examples of body-centred psychotherapy in action:

  • Very troubled children learned to trust again in a therapeutic group by just being, sometimes fighting and playing with them.
  • Got a child with attention deficit disorder into high school by instilling self-confidence via relaxation techniques and changing posture.
  • Counselled refugees on how to deal with their grief and aches because of losses through body-centred interventions
  • Helped highly skilled people after life-threatening events to get back on track, networking doctors, insurances and employer. And helping the body regulate itself again, digesting severe accidents, being unconscious for days and undergoing surgery many times.
  • Group courses for a better relation to your body and to other people.

Contact me for any further questions please

Teen portrait relaxed in wind
Relax and enjoy life to the fullest with body-centred psychotherapy

Please browse my website for further information,

Contact me via form on the contact page, and ask any questions you might have or asking me to call you back.

I do offer free 15 Minute phone consultations so you can get to know me a little better.

Should you wish to book an appointment directly, you could do that online yourself on terminland.de/marcheusser.

You may also download a free six page reprint of an article I wrote on body-centred psychotherapy. In the report you will find the role of the body in psychotherapy of the last 100 years. (pdf, in German only, but can be translated with deepl.com)