This article is written by Era Poudel. Currently she is an intern from Nepal at the Person Center. She is doing her Erasmus internship and studies Business Administration and Management at University of Almeria, Spain.
I had never been to any kind of therapy before. When I heard the word therapy, I used to imagine the stereotypical ideas that I had learnt from movies and series. “We just go to therapy when we have any issue. If you have an ENT issue, you go to an Otolaryngologist. If you have a physological issue, you go to a psychologist.” But recently, interning here at the Person Center, I realized how wrong I was.
To visit a psychologist or a therapist, we do not necessarily need to have any issues or problems. Specially in the person centered approach, a therapist is not there to correct any deformity we think we might have. A PCA therapist acts as a facilitator or a medium of communication between oneself and to their inner self. Talking specifically about the bodywork, it is a therapeutic or personal development technique that involves working with the human body in a form involving manipulative therapy, breath work, or energy medicine.
At Person Center, Willi Ross, has his own approach to bodywork. He offers bodywork therapy based on Person Centered Approach. Therefore, this bodywork therapy does not include any manupulative techiniques or any medicines. He aims to promote awareness of the “bodymind connection”, an approach that sees the human body and mind as a single integrated unit. According to Willi, “Words cannot do any justice to express the experiences we have”. To understand his clients better, he pays less attention to the words. He feels that words are an obstalce, a screen that limits the encounter with the real person. During his search for a more direct and unfiltered way of listening, he came to a realization of listening directly to the body rather than what our lips are merely trying to say. While in the session, the client reestablishes contact with themselves by listening to their body and simply by being fully present to their whole being and Willi as a therapist is listening to their body and he accompanies the client to their journey of knowing themselves.
Why is touch important and why at Person Center we focus on touch so much?
Touch is a basic human need. Positive, nurturing touches, like a hug or hug, connect us with others and help us feel accepted and loved. When touch is nurturing, meaning that it is loving, kind and desired, touch plays a key role in healthy development.
Physical contact distinguishes humans from other animals. From a warm handshake or a sympathetic hug to a congratulatory pat on the shoulder, we have developed complex languages, cultures and emotional expressions through physical contact. But in a world saturated with technology, non-sexual human contact is becoming rare, even obsolete. Despite the advantages of digital advancement, the preservation of the human dimension is essential for our true fulfilment. Without being touched, people become almost unrecognizable.
Two hundred years ago, French scientists discovered a creature that looked like a human running through the forest. After his capture, they discovered he was 11 years old and had spent much of his childhood wandering the woods. Originally, the “Victor” kid was called an idiot; French doctors and psychiatrists eventually concluded that he had been deprived of human physical contact, which had slowed his social and developmental skills.
Skin-to-skin contact is essential not only for mental and emotional health, but also for physical health. When you feel pressured or pressured, your body produces cortisol, the stress hormone. One of the best things touch can do is relieve that stress and keep the immune system working as it should.
Touch can also calm certain bodily functions, such as heart rate and blood pressure. It does this by stimulating pressure receptors that transmit signals to the vagus nerve. This nerve connects the brain to the rest of the body. It uses the signals to slow down the rhythm of the nervous system. Touch from an early age is believed to be crucial for building healthy relationships by stimulating the pathways of oxytocin, serotonin, a natural antidepressant, and dopamine, a pleasure neurotransmitter.
It can also fight against loneliness. According to a 2017 study by Nature.com, gentle touch can reduce both pain and feelings of social exclusion.
My personal experience
When Willi first explained to me the idea of body work, I was quite intrigued and recently I had the chance to experience it first hand. Before the body work session, I had several mixed emotions, including emotions of both fear and curiosity. When the entered the room, the atmosphere was very soothing, the lights, the sound of the water stream. For me personally, the bodywork session was quite relaxing. I generally tend to have a lot of thoughts. I always think about what I am going to do, what I will do later, I sometimes even create imaginative scenarios in my head and just think a lot about many many things. This habit of mine sometimes even gives me headaches. Honestly, I can never recall the time when my mind was without any thoughts while I was consious or awake. Maybe this could be a bit of anxiousness. In fact, I have to do something to keep myself busy from my thoughts so I either use my phone a lot, or watch a lot of movies/series. Even when I am eating, I need to watch something. But, during the body work session, which lasted abour an hour, I was not thinking. I was so relaxed that my brain had stopped these unnecessary thoughts of the outer world. The session was like a reset button to my tired brain.
For the first time in forever, I felt so calm. Even after the session, I felt really well rested and I felt at ease. Later when I continued with my work, I was able to focus and concentrate more, without my brain being somewhere else. I felt like there was a better coordination between what I felt and what I was doing. I feel everyone should give bodywork a try. As all of us are very different and have our own needs, the bodywork is also different depending upon us and it solely focuses on who we are and what we want.