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The Body in Person-Centred Therapy: Reclaiming the Organism

  • Wallace House 3 Boswall Road Edinburgh, Scotland, EH5 3RJ United Kingdom (map)

"psychotherapy (at least client-centered psychotherapy) is a process whereby man becomes his organism - without self-deception, without distortion ... Therapy seems to mean a getting back to basic sensory and visceral experience." (Rogers, 1961)

"our bodies feel a situation directly ... This kind of experience is sometimes attributed to 'the unconscious,' although such a body-sense is, of course, conscious" (Gendlin, 1993)

This workshop will offer participants an opportunity to reflect on what the body means in person-centred therapy – to consider the organismic, bodily basis of experiencing and to question what it might mean to hold the body in mind as we work therapeutically.

Considerable emphasis has been placed on the self-concept and on the distorting influence of conditions of worth in person-centred theory, but far less attention has been paid to what these concepts relate to and require in order for them to make any sense: an experiencing organism (i.e. the body). Rogers’ theoretical writing repeatedly makes clear the importance of the body: he talks about empathy as a process which enables the client to extend “empathy toward his own visceral experiencing, his own vaguely felt meanings”, the "meanings sensed by the physiological organism", the trustworthiness of the organismic valuing process and the "physiological loosening" which accompanies congruent symbolisation of experience (c.f. Rogers 1958, 1964, 1978). Given this emphasis it is strange that the body sometimes vanishes from person-centred writing and thinking.

This workshop will look at the body in person-centred theory and practice (drawing on the work of Rogers, Gendlin and Warner) and will consider relevant philosophical concepts (e.g. the lived body versus the anatomical body). We will examine feeling, as distinct from emotion, the ways our bodies are continually sensing our situation, and will consider how we might better support clients' processing by thinking of and referring to the body. The day will include presentations, group discussions and experiential exercises. You will not need to be able-bodied to participate.

Cost: Early bird £65 if paid by 19th May, thereafter £75. Book here.