Intercorporeality and Interaffectivity

Thomas Fuchs

According to phe­nomenological and enactive approaches, human sociality does not start from iso­lated individuals and their hidden inner states, but from in­tercorporeality and interaffectivity. To elaborate this concept, I will introduce (1) a general concept of embodied affectivity: it conceives emotions not as inner men­tal states, but as en­compassing spatial phenomena that connect the embodied subject and the situation with its affective affordances in a circular interaction. (2) This leads to a concept of embodied interaffectivity: in every face-to-face encounter, the partners’ subject-bodies are intertwined in a pro­cess of bodily resonance, coordinated interaction and ‘mutual incorpora­tion’ which provides the basis for a primary or intuitive empathic under­standing. It can also give rise to self-sustaining interaction patterns that go beyond the behavioral dispositions of isolated individuals. (3) Finally, developmental accounts of intersubjectivity point out that sharing and understanding each other’s feelings is also based on an in­tercorporeal memory or implicit relational knowledge that is acquired in early childhood. It conveys a basic sense of social attunement or a ‘social musicality’. Basic empathy as mediated by embodied interaction may subsequently be extended by higher-level cognitive capacities such as perspective-taking and imaginary transposition. Nevertheless, intercor­poreality and interaffectivity remain the basis of social encounters.

Body-Oriented Psychotherapy for Chronic Schizophrenia: 

A mixed-methods, process-outcome study

Laura Galbusera

According to the tradition of phenomenological psychiatry, schizophrenia shall be conceptualized as a disorder of the self. A particular focus has been put on the implicit and bodily level of experience: disturbed basic self-consciousness, disturbed intersubjective immediacy and experiences of disembodiment have been described as phenomenological core features of the disorder.

Consistently with this theoretical background, I will focus on a treatment approach which addresses first and foremost the implicit and bodily level of experience in schizophrenia: a body-oriented psychotherapy intervention (Röhricht, unpublished manuscript). I will thus present the results from a mixed methods study that explored the efficacy and the workings of this treatment approach.

This study was implemented at the Psychiatric University Clinic of Heidelberg, in collaboration with Dr. Lisa Fellin, Mike Finn and Prof. Thomas Fuchs.

The first research question was on psychotherapy outcome: did the BPT intervention yield therapeutic change? Coherently with a phenomenological view, the focus remained on participants non-verbal behavior and interactions. Instead of focussing on symptoms, patients bodily interactive styles were investigated before and after therapy to see if a change happened. A significant increase in patients’ interactional bodily synchrony after the BPT intervention was observed.

The second part of the study consisted in a qualitative exploration of psychotherapy process: why and how did therapeutic change happen? What are the helpful factors of BPT? An interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) of participants’ experience of psychotherapy was implemented. The results highlighted six core themes related to the experience of therapeutic change. All of them share the underlying idea of a recovery of a sense of self at different levels of patients’ identity. The theoretical and clinical implication of the quantitative and qualitative results will be discussed.

Self in Gestalt therapy

Anton Polák

The contribution is presenting the concept of self as it is viewed from the Gestalt therapy perspective. It tries to emphasize the specifics of this perspective how it is cleraly embedded in existential-phenomenological frame of reference viewing the self as a process that is emerging naturally from the contact in the organismic-environmental field. This process is described with its developmental and clinical implications.

The development of healthy and unhealthy self is related to the process of creative adjustment with the depiction of conditions or events in the organismic-environmental field which can lead to the emergence of various forms of disturbed self.

The Dance of Connection

Stacey Hurst

The therapist’s ability to enter into the relational realm with a client is critical to the change process. There is an increasing body of research from different fields bringing evidence, that the role of the non-verbal, implicit dimension in the process of engagement with another is crucial, and that it has essential significance for the integration of the cognitive, emotional, physical and social development of the individual.

These implicit processes, unique for each individual, emerge gradually through our experience with the world – most substantially through our experience with the significant other(s), and are carried in our bodies as behavioral/movement patterns throughout our life. Therefore, in common interactions, they remain unnoticed, because they happen automatically, on the unconscious level.

In psychotherapy, these implicit processes are present whether we are working predominantly in movement, as e.g. dance/movement therapists do, or predominantly in the verbal mode. They play an essential role in the development of the therapeutic relationship and in the treatment of trauma, attachment, emotional regulation and eating disorders, amongst others. As therapists, if we want to use the implicit content of the encounter in order to facilitate the client´s process, we need to be able to bring the implicit into our explicit awareness and, trace phenomenologically the client´s, our own, as well as the shared non-verbal realm to provide intentional, focused interventions that connect with our client’s whole self.

In DMT, systems of movement analysis are used to achieve this goal. One such system is the Kestenberg Movement Profile (KMP), grounded in developmental psychology and Laban Movement Analysis.  Through training in one or both of these systems, dance/movement therapists are able to observe, attune to and create interventions from the implicit non-verbal, body-based expression. Using Kestenberg’s movement profile as a framework, the therapist can join their client´s dance to create an empathic therapeutic relationship that brings the client into a sense of connection both inter and intra-personally.  The client unconsciously experiences being seen by a compassionate, caring individual who accepts and appreciates their uniqueness in the most primary way possible – through the affectively body-based movement expression.

The contribution will present how the use of the KMP, specifically tension flow attunement and shape flow adjustment, can be used as tools within the therapeutic encounter to facilitate a deepening of the client’s relationship between self and other and self to self.  It will also briefly address the association to Interpersonal Neurobiology-the work of Daniel Siegel.

The Self and the Skin

Peter Philippson

The human being as an organism has a physical boundary with its environment, particularly at the skin surface and the sense organs.  The skin separates the organism from its environment and maintains its physical integrity.  It is also where organism and environment interact. This relationality is at the heart of our embodiment.  While we only know and experience the world around us through our bodies, it is equally true that we only know our bodies, our physical capabilities and fragilities, through their engagement with the world.

In the Gestalt understanding, self is not known in itself, but through a boundary of self/other, and what is taken as other is an inherent factor in what I identify as self.  In a very real sense, I cannot be ‛self-aware’: I am that which is not other. As such, self takes its form not only though the process of ‛selfing’ but also of ‛othering’, and the contours of the other engaged with are also the contours of the self emergent from the engaging. This is an existential view of self, arising in the course of engaged existence.

So we have two descriptions of boundaries: one of organism/environment, the other of self/other. The question arises of how these interrelate, and that is the subject-matter of this presentation.  Put otherwise, what is the relation between the self and the body, or the self and the skin?  It turns out that this question is a very fruitful one, and illuminates therapeutic work with people with eating disorders and body dysmorphias, as well as more general therapeutic issues.

Creation of the Self – a dance movement therapy perspective

Radana Syrovátková

Movement insight of dance movement therapy into early personality development of individuals offers slightly different, even though still the same, view of the process of personality development through somatic selfperception and interaction. Earlier authors have noticed early somatic and movement developments and its visible presentations and impact on the most dynamic progress of personality shaping in early childhood. Mahler has observed early childhood in relation to the relational models known at that time, and gave much of the descriptive material to these phases, that are very precise. Freud has also conceptualized inner and outer layer of the self. They both have these observations actually on the edge of their main theory focus.

In the lecture, these elements will be widely elaborated, using dance movement therapy perspective, in connection with observations from therapeutic practice with adult clients. Presentation offers interconnections of some of the analytical theories, theories of dance movement therapy and movement analysis, clinical observations and applications from clinical practice of dance movement psychotherapy. Specifically, overlaping of these theories with the practice in a sociologically posttraumatic community will be addressed (posttrauma of large groups as in post-war developlment and posttotalitarian impact).

Modern Aproaches in  Dissociative Identity Disorder Treatment

Ondřej Novák

Dissociative Disorder Psychotherapy with focus on  Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is the subjects of this presentation. Clinical case results indicate the need for a specific approach in the treatment of patients who are traumatized and  suffer from symptoms of dissociation. The posibility of modifying Gestalt psychoterapy approach by taking inspiration from modern trauma-related therapeutic aproaches with special focus on the Theory of Structural Dissociation is proposed and discussed. This  presentation has been  inspired by Guidlines of the European Society for Trauma and Dissociation (ESTD), an International Society for Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD).

Re-inhabiting your body – Dance Movement Psychotherapy and Laban Movement Analysis in working with trauma

Agnieszka Sokołowska

Body plays a key role in regulating emotions and shows to be crucial when examining primitive psychological states.

Unconscious fantasies, internalized object relations, apart from their representation in the psyche, have also a bodily component. During the therapeutic process it becomes apparent how the patient identifies specific movement patterns with their unconscious, symbolic use (which can become evident in: attention to space, dynamic qualities of movement, body posture etc.). This presentation will be based on my individual and group work with adults who have experienced trauma during their childhood.

It was the physical experience that offered them a chance to reestablish contact with their feelings and sensations. The use of body work allowed them to feel alive again instead of remaining in the state of perpetual numbness.

Reactions that were imprisoned in their bodies causing chronic tension, pain, lack of energy had finally a chance to be expressed, and in that way transformed and understood.

Applying body-oriented psychotheray to patients with PTSD

Sybille Aβmann

The body is of particular importance when treating traumatised people – the body being directly or indirectly the site of the trauma. The body carries and storages the received hurts and injuries. In this way it may become a trigger in itself, in fact many clients cut their relationship with their body for protection reasons.

After briefly outlining the impact of traumatic events on body and mind physiology, some possibilities of integrating the body in the psychotherapeutic process according to the classical phases of trauma therapy will be discussed. Focussing on a clinical perspective the importance of developing a mutual understanding of the clients personal landscape of body reactions, in relation to their traumatic experiences, will be emphasised.

Nonverbal synchrony in psychotherapy

Wolfgang Tschacher

I will present research projects that addressed, using the video-analysis tool MEA (Motion Energy Analysis), how therapeutic interaction is embodied in nonverbal behavior, especially in the often unconscious coordination of movements of interacting people. In psychotherapy, the quality of alliance was found represented by the degree of this ‘nonverbal synchrony’ between therapist and patient. Synchrony was further associated with personality features of patients such as their attachment styles and interpersonal problems. In a further sample of healthy dyads, this nonverbal resonance was also linked with positive and negative affect depending on the experimental tasks that were given. In schizophrenia patients, nonverbal synchrony with therapists during role plays was significantly related to symptom profiles. In sum, as a result of several studies done so far, quantitative research provides increasing evidence for what phenomenological philosophers have proposed since a long time – all communication has a bodily basis, and this bodily basis shapes the messages that are being sent. There is no such thing as abstract information processing, and the sender-receiver metaphor of communication should be replaced by a systemic model of mutually synchronized agents. With respect to clinical settings, it is suggested that beyond the mere amount of movement, the degree of patient-therapist synchrony is a pivotal predictor of the therapeutic alliance, of individual emotion regulation, as well as an objective and sensitive indicator of the severity of patients’ problems. Our findings thus generally support the practice of body-based psychotherapy, and we call for more quantitative research on their specific mechanisms of action.

Tschacher W, Rees GM & Ramseyer F (2014). Nonverbal synchrony and affect in dyadic interactions. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 1323. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01323

Ramseyer F & Tschacher W (2011). Nonverbal synchrony in psychotherapy: Coordinated body-movement reflects relationship quality and outcome. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 79, 284-295.

Tschacher W (1997). Prozessgestalten. Die Anwendung der Selbstorganisationstheorie und der Theorie dynamischer Systeme auf Probleme der Psychologie. Göttingen: Hogrefe (pdf available online)



Kineshtetic empathy in the therapeutic relationship

Klára Čížková

Kinesthetic empathy is an ability used mostly in dance movement therapy, in the relationship which is communicated not only on verbal level, but also (and sometimes mainly) in movement dialogue. Consciously developed kinesthetic empathy enables therapist to respond emotionaly while observing clients movement and attune to her/his experiencing “here and now”. We can use kinesthetic empathy also in verbal therapy, where it enables us to be more aware of clients´ subtle nonverbal actions and our reactions or responses.

During the workshop we will practice this ability, we will explore principles, used in developing kinesthetic empathy (mirroring, movement dialogue), and we will also focus on possibilities of its use in the psychotherapeutic approaches other than dance movement therapy. Workshop will consist of selfexperience, sharing, theoretical framing and discussion.

Aggression in everyday contact

Juraj Rektor

Aggression is in gestalt theory conceived primarily as a healthy instinct, which is a necessary part of the development and growth and which is rather muted during upbringing. Perls writes about the problems resulting from the inhibition of healthy aggression, not about aggression that would disrupt organismic self-regulation and contact.

In therapies we are dealing more with what is happening to the client, or what is he/she doing with him/herself rather than with how they treat others at the contact boundary. Usually we don’t get the information from the client about him/her crossing the boundary directly or trying to influence the others in an indirect manner. The clients also rarely demonstrate this kind of behavior at the contact boundary in therapeutic relationship. And also the therapists may not be sensitive enough to this and may not be able to recognize and to handle this kind of aggression.

In order to meet our needs we mostly function in the “I-it” mode and the aggression into the environment is a necessary part or condition of functioning in this mode. However, if the relationship becomes the very need if the relationship is not utilitarian one and but we seek the “I-thou” mode of relating then meeting at the boundary not beyond the boundary of the other is a condition of such contact. Aggression (direct or indirect) – an action beyond the boundary of the other – is then a disruption of contact, of need satisfaction and of the organismic self-regulation.

In the workshop we will try to experience the direct and indirect aggression “firsthand”. Not only its verbal and behavioral manifestations, but also the overall experience – both as an active or passive participant of the interaction – in the role of the boundary violator and recipient (and co) of this disruption.


Hana Junová

Psychogymnastics is an original Czech non-verbal approach. It works with a variety of themes – from simple, playful „exercises“ to the serious issues expressed and processed, like values in live etc. The method is intended for group psychotherapy. The issues arising from the non-verbal work can be used further for verbal processing or can create a distinct unit.

Contact, distance and personal space

Klára Kolofíková

In this workshop we will work in movement. We will explore the ways we can enter the contact with another person or the group, how can we stay in contact or leave it. What is the meaning of being in contact for us and what is it´s relation to physical distance or proximity. We will take an interest in our personal space boundaries – how can we feel them, what qualities do they have, and what happens when someone crosses them. How can we attune to the other in the contact without losing ourselves. At the end, the opportunity to share our personal experiences with others verbally will be offered.

Previous experience with dance movement therapy, dancing or contact improvisation is not required.

Integration of self – integration of the body

Jana Špinarová Dusbabková

The bases of this workshop are theoretical concepts of dance movement therapy and gestalt therapy. The main goal in dance movement therapy is to further emotional, cognitive, physical and social level of the individual. It uses movement, focusing on body and its impulses, self-expression, symbolism and verbalization.

For this workshop was chosen self-concept based in gestalt therapy. The self contains many parts, which are integrated on different levels, we are differently aware of them, they are in different relations and have different intensity. According to the theories combining dance movement therapy and gestalt therapy the full integration of self and possibility of change with clients can be fully successful only if the whole body is involved in the process (body parts integrated).

Workshop offers space for exploring this theoretical concepts using body and movement, sharing, looking for own integration of emotions, body parts and connection between them.

Field Theory and Co-existing Perspectives in Psychotherapy

Stáňa Dudová

The intention of the workshop in general is to offer the participants an opportunity to pursue the events occuring in psychotherapy through different, co-existing perspectives. The workshop theme is embedded in the field theory and different ways of understanding it. We will seek to spot together  the brilliant aspects of the different interpretations, it´s integrative potential, the contribution to the general understanding of the psychotherapy proces, and we will also consider it´s limitations. Most importantly, we will try to experience „on our own skin“ the actual benefit these perspectives can have in our everyday psychotherapeutic practice. We will see, which perspective is familiar to us personally, what are the insights it offers us for the psychotherapeutic situations and how other perspectives and states of mind can enrich us. We will try to look at the different concepts as co-existing insted to see them as competitive.

Exploring Somatic Counter-transference; A conjoint story

Andrea Malá

In recent years psychotherapists, body related psychotherapists and psychoanalysts are highlighting the place of the body and bodily felt emotion in the psychotherapeutic process. This seminar explores the broader phenomena of somatic counter-transference, questioning whether these physical changes are arbitrary or rooted in the therapeutic experience. A qualitative case study of a dance movement psychotherapists’ research with children who experienced domestic abuse, is used to track the therapists’ response before during and after sessions, in order to make sense of the unfolding story which the child found impossible to voice.

A discussion and movement experience will be offered to engage the topic both verbally and on the somatic level, looking at the significance of somatic counter-transference in our practice. Questions will be raised that ask about the neutrality of the therapist in the inter-subjective therapeutic relationship. How do we attempt to define what the therapist responds to when working with trauma, is it a case of ‘vicarious traumatisation’ or a somatic counter-transference, are they projected ‘onto’, ‘into’? The latter suggests something getting under the skin, which echoes another layer of abuse, and makes the counter-transference feel even more traumatic and difficult to notice which pieces belong to whom in the story.

It is therefore important as practitioners that we can find ways in which to support not only our sense of self but our bodies in the work we offer, in order to be able to reflect and guide one must surely be able to have an awareness of what is theirs to begin with.

Dancing on the couch

Monika Stehlíková

Often people imagine that dance movement psychotherapy (DMP) means expressive dance or massive movement in the space. The truth is that in DMP we often work with subtle delicate movements, even without standing up and leaving the safe context of sitting on the couch. We support the kinesthetic perception, the contact with the physical “I” and un-forced connect the movement experiences and preferences of the patients. In this way, the client is lead to a deeper self-knowledge, self-acceptance and discovery of the TRUE WHOLE SELF. In the workshop, I will share my more than 10 years experiences with individual clients, where 80% of “work” has been proceeded in sitting. During the workshop I will introduce simple scheme I use during the initial sessions. I will delineate, how I make contract with the client (including the issue of touch and use of movement) and I will show you simple structured “exercises” I use with the clients and how we develop them. Workshop will be self-experiential with many practical demonstrations.

The workshop is aimed not only for dance movement therapists starting with their practice, but especially for colleagues working in the verbal context, who would like to enrich their work using movement fluently and naturally in their practice. 

Living embodied metaphor using imagination and symbol

Kamila Laudová

The workshop is focused on body expression and projection in group, coming from the experience with clients suffering from huge fear from with expressing themselves in the relationship (psychotic symptoms, schizophrenia,etc).

The theoretical concept EPR- Embodiment, Projection, Role is a developmental paradigm that uniquely charts the progression of dramatic play from birth to 7 years. It provides a parallel progression alongside other developmental processes such as physical, cognitive, emotional and social. EPR charts the ‘dramatic development’ of human, which is the basis of a child being able to enter the world of imagination and symbol, the world of dramatic play and drama.

During the E stage we can see how the child’s early experiences are physicalised and are mainly expressed through bodily movement and the senses. These physical experiences are essential for the development of the ‘body-self': we cannot have a body image until we have a body-self. The child needs to be able to ‘live’ in his or her body and to feel confident about moving in space.

Most of our early physical and bodily experience comes through our proximity to others: usually our mothers or carers. The attachment theory is relevant in this concept. The body is the primary means of learning (Jennings 1990) and all other learning is secondary to that first learning experience through the body.

We will use embodiment techniques: gross body movement involving the whole body, fine body movement with different body parts, creative ideas of moving “as if”. These activities are self-experiential, relational-bounded, process oriented and noninterpretative in a playful atmosphere.

Moving towards an active and creative Self
Body-oriented psychotherapy of chronic schizophrenia

Ariane Konrad & Laura Galbusera

Due to results of phenomenological psychopathology and psychiatry research in recent years it was possible to develop an innovative body-oriented psychotherapy approach in the treatment of patients with chronic schizophrenia based on the paradigm of embodiment (Röhricht, Papadopoulus). In opposition to neuropsychological theories, that conceptualize schizophrenia as disorder of higher-leveled cognitive processes (Theory of Mind, Metacognition), phenomenological theories conceptualize schizophrenia as a disintegration of the bodily self.

The body as medium of being-in-the-world (Merleau-Ponty) is the precondition for basic experiences of self-awareness, emotions, cognitions and social interactions. Currently is up to the discussion, to what extent the negative symptoms of patients with schizophrenia could be recognized as answer to an existential angst or threat as a result they move back from their body and consequently from the reality and the contact with others. Such an emotional and social withdrawal could precede acute positive symptoms. Therefore the treatment should be orientated on negative symptoms, acting bodily reconstructive and protective sources.

The workshop gives a short introduction to the theoretical and methodical background as well as a selective self-experience of the treatment manual in reference to the personal experiences applying the manual at the psychiatric university clinic in Heidelberg.

Touch and contact − Here, I am, You

František Zimmel

This workshop will introduce a bioenergetic cycle – grounding, centering, facing. Participants will be led through particular phases and they will have an opportunity to experiment with the contact with the environment, with themselves and others. Support will be provided to experience mutual influence of these phases through simple exercises that involve possibilities of touch and contact. Participants will have an opoortunity to share their self-experience and theoretical framework for the experience will be provided.

Body-dance- image

Gabi Salz

The workshop provides insight to somatic based expressive  therapy (IKT), that is a primarily movement focused group therapy approach, which may incorporate other modalities, such as drama, dance, painting, and music. Clients are encouraged to explore their responses, reactions, and insights via pictures, sounds, explorations, and encounters with art processes. Artistic abilities are not required in order to benefit from expressive arts therapy. Instead, it works through the use of senses and through imaginative processes. Additionally, the relationship between the clients, the therapist and the
process are also essential.

Through expressive therapies we may contact the implicit memory, where emotional and affective – sometimes traumatic – presymbolic and preverbal experiences of the primary mother-infant relations are stored.

The workshop is a playful investigation.  We are looking for possibilities to transfer movement and feelings into picture. We build on Bucci’s model of emotional communication, developed in the context of her theory of multiple coding and the referential process. The referential process is a bidirectional function connecting the diverse sensory, somatic, and motor representations of the subsymbolic
system with imagery and words.

In the workshop first a special technique will be introduced, called body mapping. Body Mapping is a creative therapeutic tool that combines bodily experiences and visual artistic  expression. It involves painting a life-size image of one’s body onto a large surface using colors, pictures, symbols and words to draft an inner map of experiences lived through the body. Later, space for sharing, discussing the experiences and reflecting on them will be provided. We will examine the effects and emotions the images may evoke and the memories they may recall.

Light, movement and feelings…

Jan Komárek & Klára Čížková
How does a light in the dark affect the human soul? How can light itself influence and change our feelings, how does the body intuitively react to specific light conditions, how can light effect movement…These are the basic themes of this experimental and, (please note ) interactive ( ! ) lighting workshop, during which some surprises will certainly arise…

Me & the Map − the Map as an Image of the Inner and Reflection of the Outer World

Jana Kasalová

In this artistic creative workshop we will focuse on the map and it´s interpretation, we will experiment with it both from the formal as well as content perspective. Looking for the inner or mental maps and ourselves in the map, define own boundaries. Using cartographic maps and simple art techniques like drawing, collage, crumpling, colloring, we´ll shift the original meaning of the map as well as it´s visual appearance to the new contexts.

Authentic movement

Lenka Pelikánová

Authentic movement is a simple form of working with movement . With the eyes closed, the mover follows his/her inner impulses and needs perceived through the body, without music, and mostly with one person, who is witnessing this process. The witness watches inner responses to the mover in an open, non-judgmental way.

Authentic movement, in its silence,  brings to the surface what we do not hear in the course of our everyday busy lifes.

This simple method finds its use in the therapeutic processes, in an artistic and working area where it is a source of new ideas and increase of creativity. In the field of personal development it is a means of deepening awareness and interconnectivity of body and mind.

Spaces in Your (Body) Self

Jana Ryšlavá

“Grounding – gaining power – creating an inner space and enjoying the lightnes and strenth at the same time.” This is the axis of the workshop Spaces in your (Body) Self.

Inner spaces are a great platform to balance tentions coming form outside or inside of the body. Looking for the largest range of movement, with big respect to anatomical connetions of all the body parts. Using just right amount of effort needed for this moment is the secret of enjoying power and lightness at the same time. This experience we will  also  apply to the kinesphere. Come and enjoy time just for your Self in your body.