Rainer Mahr

      What does relationship in Bioenergetic Analysis mean?

      There is a very intense discussion about the meaning of relationship in psychotherapeutic work. The topic of that discussion in the bioenergetic world means work with the relationship or with the body and there are colleagues who have stopped bodywork and think that only work with the relationship makes any sense.

      I believe that there is no either or. It is really impossible to do bioenergetic work without both, relationship and bodywork. In any psychotherapy you need both.

      And you cannot differ between relationship and bodywork because you cannot compare both words. But before we can start the discussion we have to clarify in which sense we will be using the word relationship. When talking about relationship, are we talking about the same process?

      1. A definition of relationship: When you have a relationship with a person you will relate your behaviour, talking thinking and your emotions to that person. "I go with my friend to the cinema", "I will share my life with you", " I am sad that you left me", " I trust my therapist", etc.

      2. In talking about relationship in psychotherapy you must differentiate between the different meanings of relationship:

      2.1. Between therapist and patient there should be a positive relation in the sense that the patient can trust his or her therapist. It has to be clear that the therapist is on the patients side. The therapist should be able to understand and accept the patient`s problems and needs.

      Therefore the therapist has to be trustworthy about the appointments, the lenght of the sessions, no telephone calls with other peoples during the sessions, about the money etc.

      Without these essentials there will be no effective psychotherapy anyway which ever concept you use.

      2.2. Usually relationship in psychotherapy is used in the sense of transference and countertransference: Patients form their relationship to the therapist in the same way of their relationship to mother, father, siblings. So the structure and dynamics of these relationships, which perhaps have caused trouble to the patient, become very alive in the therapeutic sessions including all emotions. The patient doesn`t need to tell the therapist what has happened in former times. The scene becomes real and present in the therapeutic session and can be watched, analysed and understood.

      This aspect of transference and countertransference of relationship is the main issue of therapeutic work. You can say that  therapist and patient work on this level very consciously and on purpose.

      2.3. Even when you accept the position that the relationship between human beings is always structured on the pattern of the early paternal relationship, there are a lot of therapies where these structures explicit don´t play an explicit role.

      That is a fact in behavioural therapies if they are effective. Or this will happen if the patient come to a session, sit down and starts to talk and struggle, cry and weep for his or her parents without any connection with the therapist. Of course, the patient needs the therapeutic space to become free and independent for such a thing to happen. But in these cases the patient doesn´t need the therapist as a partner for the transference and countertransference.

      Similar things can happen sometimes in bodywork. The patients coming into an autonomous bodily process are confronted with biological and physiological processes which  bring good results in clarification and healing. Mostly these processes need the presence of the therapist, but only to protect and to support the process not as an actor or coactor.

      2.4. There are other therapeutic settings where the relationship between patient and therapist is dominated by transference and countertransference very deeply but it is never or not for a long time talked about. Patients with very strong and early conflicts which need a lot of grounding support and orientation, initiate of course a lot of transference and countertransference. But don´t dare interpret this relationship. You will make the patient ashamed and damage or stop the progress of your work.

      3. Relationship is communication

      Without communication you cannot form a relationship to anybody. The relationship itself is a permanent state of communication. I give information about myself, my ideas, my needs feelings etc. to my partner and I am waiting for answers. I need a "yes", "no", "perhaps", etc. For in psychotherapy, the therapist tries to influence and modify the patient in any way he has to give him information, which is able to influence him. And to be able to give the right information which is really able to influence him, the therapist needs special information from him too.

      There is never psychotherapy without information and communication. And as communication is relationship there is no psychotherapy without relationship.

      But what is very important for psychotherapy especially for bioenergetics are the very different levels of communication between human beings. These differ very much in the mode of communication and in the depth they can reach.

      3.1. The most common mode of communication is talking. People give information with words to establish relationships.. People can hear, understand my words and give me an answer.

      Though this way of communication is seen as the specific mode for human beings, showing that they are organisms with mind and spirit, don´t ever forget that talking is of course a bodily process. There will be no word without functioning muscles, organs etc.

       

      3.2. Besides talking and hearing you can also become aware of  the situation and wishes of your partner just by looking at him. You can see in his face that he is happy to see you or the way he is walking tells you of his hard work or about his sadness or anger. And you yourself can answer him in the same way showing him that you will help him or that you are not pleased that he is not well.

      And to all of us it is well known that sometimes the words we hear and what we see is not congruent at all. We hear, "oh, I feel great", but we see "I cannot stand this life any longer".

      So in this way you can communicate without words and form relationship with other people.

      I think you are aware that by looking at one´s person, his face,appearance and posture, everything you see in his body or what you express with your body are bodily processes. These consist of movements of the body and the brain`s interpretation

      3.3. Touching the body of the patient is a very delicate topic in bioenergetics. But by touching you can give and receive information from your partner. It is a way of communication as well as talking, looking, smelling etc. It is one possible way to form a relationship. Of course, you should handle touching in psychotherapy very carefully, as carefully as you do using your verbal communication. But by touching a person you can tell him things very quickly and clearly. You can reach him very deeply and initiate intense processes. Transference will be mobilised but can be worked through as well as all the other transference and countertransference processes. And don´t ever forget that after the birth of a child touching is the first and only way of communication and forming a relationship.

      3.4. I think it is well known to everybody that sometimes you get information from a person without hearing, seeing and talking to him. Suddenly you know something about him or you feel pressure, excitment, depression etc in your own body. This can happen to people who are standing very close to you or who are far away from you. Sometimes you haven´t met them for years.

      I believe this is a special way of communication too, the bare transmission of information. Its function can be understood by comparing it to radio or television. If both are tuned very precisely on the same frequency information and communication will run well.. In human communication and relationship this tuning is called "empathy". You say that you have the same frequency as your partner and therefore you can understand each other. With such an empathy you can touch other people very deeply.

      This mode of relationship and communication without words, without seeing the partner is not mysterious but a transmission of information which becomes better with good tuning. We say: ”They have to be in resonance.”

      Now we have to realise that the human organism doesn´t only exist as body, mind and soul but consists of organs, cells, molecules, atoms and subatomic elements. That means that our body has a biological and physical structure. But this physical structure on the level of the atoms creates an electromagnetic field with an radiation on specific frequencies – just like telecommunication works, Diese Strahlung kann sich in die Umgebung des Körpers ausbreiten und von anderen empfangen werden.

      So, comparing relationships without any bodily and verbal contact to the transmission of information in telecommunication is not only a metaphoric one.

      It seems that you can activate a real electromagnetic channel to your partner in which you can reach him with your ideas, minds and feelings on a very deep level. The "very deep level" means the subatomic structure of the organism. These physical or electromagnetic information you can call energy.

      Until now this was only a speculative idea but there are already possibilities to proove the transmission of such energies. For example the transmission of the energy of healers has been very successfully tested by the physicist Fritz. A. Popp.

      4. So relationship in psychotherapy is the successful communication between therapist and patient, the transmission of different but important information. There are different channels for communication, verbal and non verbal ones. All of them are bodily processes and they will touch the body up to the subatomic level. Therefore bioenergetic cannot work without relationship and relationship is nothing different from bodywork in psychotherapy.

      And - relationship is not a luxury thing you can celebrate if you have everything you need. All vivid organisms and human beeings need good ralationship to be able to survive.

     

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