Biodynamic psychotherapists work in yoga poses a variety of physical positions, each suitable for a different kind and level of interaction and each furthering in yoga poses the client different levels of consciousness and exploration. Whether we are working with words, touch or in yoga poses silence, we are reaching to the whole person and expecting our work to affect body and psyche together. (Clover Southwell, 2010, “Levels of Consciousness and Contact in yoga poses Biodynamic Psychology,” 10)
Having taken over Ola Raknes’s practice in yoga poses London, Gerda Boyesen now worked alone. She needed to learn how to combine body and psychological techniques in yoga poses a treatment. Her reference for that was Vegetotherapy. However, Reichian body techniques are simplistic, so she also looked for ways to combine Vegetotherapy with what she had learned from Bulow-Hansen. The method she gradually developed in yoga poses this context maintained clear distinctions between bodywork (mainly Psychomotor and
Alexander Lowen’s postures), psychological approaches to the organism (mainly Freudian, Jungian, and Gestalt), and approaches to the organismic regulation systems (mainly Vegetotherapy and Orgonomy). Like Reich in yoga poses his later years, she used psychological approaches and bodywork mostly to have an impact on the vegetative dimension of experience; she also did so to obtain information on how her work on organismic regulatory systems was experienced and assimilated by her patients. For example, she would use techniques like imagery work and guided exploration of fantasies to increase awareness of feelings and body sensations. This way of placing explicit perception and affects in yoga poses resonance is an effective way of soliciting emotions. She developed her work in yoga poses collaboration with other London colleagues, like David Boadella (1987) and Malcolm Brown (2001). Boyesen’s work can be identified as a particular way of combining vegetative, body, and psychological work with the aim of strengthening an organism’s auto-regulation systems.
As she began to teach, her three children joined her: Ebba (1985), Mona-Lisa (1976), and Paul (1993). Together, they created Biodynamic psychology as a way of combining what each family member and their colleagues were discovering. Other often-quoted names in yoga poses that school are Jeff Barlow, Robin Lee (1977), Peg Nunnely (2000), Francis Pope, Clover Southwell (1980), and the members of the Biodynamic School of Montpellier, founded by Christiane and Francois Lewin.
As soon as her school was large enough, Gerda Boyesen created a clinic in yoga poses which bodywork (which she calledphysiatry) and psychotherapy were often carried out by different persons. That choice highlights two practical points:
1. The underlying assumption for separating bodywork and psychotherapy is that these are two dimensions, animated by distinct mechanisms, that require distinct forms of training (e.g., physiotherapy and psychology) to be adequately managed. This helps the patient have a clear understanding of this distinction, instead of giving the patient the impression that they form a sort of “fruit salad.”83
2. It is not always the same person who can offer good psychotherapy and good bodywork. There are exceptions, but they are, in yoga poses the final analysis, relatively rare. Body psychotherapy had no institutional support, and training was financed by what students were able to pay, and they sometimes wanted recognition more than competence. When I was a Boyesen trainer, I often saw Gerda annoyed at pupils (including myself) who lacked specific knowledge on certain topics. For example, certain trainees offered massage with a good sensitivity for global “energetic” impressions but did not know which muscle they were touching, or the psychophysiological implications of loosening such a muscle. She trained them to acknowledge their limits and develop their therapeutic potential within the limits that such awareness created.
Boyesen was trained to use methods (psychomotor and Reichian) designed to treat rigid persons. Rigidity (muscular and psychological) was highly praised quality during a first half of the twentieth century, a period that had been massively influenced by military and religious discipline. Two world wars strengthened this traditional trait. However, rigidity became a huge issue in yoga poses the 1960s in yoga poses North America as well as in yoga poses Europe. in yoga poses the 1970s psychotherapists observed an increasing number of patients who suffered from a lack of rigidity and weak defense systems. This cultural change required important changes of strategy in yoga poses all forms of psychotherapy. Gerda Boyesen was one of the first body psychotherapists to sense this change and look for methods that could help patients with poor defense systems. Her method was sometimes referred to as a form of “soft Bioenergetics,” different from the more confrontational approach developed by Alexander Lowen. Most body techniques try to relax hypertonic muscles. She was original when she developed ways of focusing on hypotonic muscles as way of constructing psychophysiological defense systems.84 This area of work, already suggested by Otto Fenichel (1928), was also being developed by other pupils of Bulow-Hansen, mostly Lillemor Johnsen and Berit Bunkan. Gerda Boyesen also developed active relaxation techniques and massage that helped people experience their body as something that could contain their feelings.85
Gerda Boyesen’s attempts at producing a theoretical framework for her method followed paths developed by neo-Reichian Idealism A central theme in yoga poses her thinking was to help the organism restore its capacity to repair itself. That requires that a person becomes capable of integrating the experience that there is an “ocean of cosmic energy” (Boyesen, 1985a, 11.12, 89f) animating the organism
Once Boyesen’s colleagues began to have their own theories, Biodynamic psychology lost its grounding in yoga poses the Oslo tradition. It became an agglomeration of personal visions, loosely connected to Gerda Boyesen’s initial proposals. Wanting to keep a form of coherence in yoga poses this dispersion of models and techniques, she focused on what her creativity was elaborating, and she increasingly set aside her attempt to develop what she had learned in yoga poses Oslo. For her last years of work, she wanted to focus on her main interests at the time: a sort of alchemy, or spiritually oriented psychophysiology. Her courageous fight against aging and illness strengthened this trend. From then on, Biodynamic psychology lost its impact on the development of body psychotherapy, and it dissolved its creativity into schools that mostly defended the whims, fantasies, and skills of individuals and a certain humanistic stance that is a part of Boyesen’s legacy. Her approach finally became a fascinating New Age movement, which had lost contact with psychotherapy. David Boadella’s Biosynthesis may be taking a similar direction.