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Gerda Boyesen was born in 1922 in Bergen. Her first marriage was with Carl Boyesen. In 1947 she read a book by Wilhelm Reich which made a strong impression on her. Shortly thereafter she began therapy with Ola Raknes, a vegetotherapist who had been trained by Reich. Later she studied psychology in Oslo and received training as physiotherapist which led to work with Aadel Bülow-Hansen. Through her own therapy Boyesen got to know the connection between repressed emotions and muscle tensions. In her book Über den Körper die Seele heilen she established and partly described in a very personal manner how she developed her own therapeutic method linking the beginnings of Wilhelm Reich, Carl Gustav Jung and Sigmund Freud, through her own studies, her own therapeutic experience as well as her own practice.
Gerda Boyesen is the founder of "Biodynamics Psychology and Psychotherapy". In 1968 she left for London and opened a practice and later an international teaching and training institute. In addition to client-oriented work other focus areas were included, most notably she was the first woman in Europe to establish her own psychotherapeutic training institute.
Gerda Boyesen lived and worked in different, mostly European, countries, however, her work influenced body psychotherapy worldwide. Her books were translated into other languages. She trained psychotherapists over several decades and throughout her life she continued to develop her ideas and methods. She was the mother of three children (Mona Lisa, Ebba and Paul) who all got involved with Biodynamics and psychotherapy and partly carried on the work of their mother or continued in their own directions.
Gerda Boyesen developed, among other things, the theory that the dismantling of psychological stress is also connected with the digestive system. She came to the conclusion that certain massage techniques could bring to completion the expression of unwanted feelings, or "incomplete cycles," and this would entail similar noises from the intestines as during digestion of food. She called these noises psychoperistalsis. This process of "digesting" psychological problems is often accompanied by new insights. For this reason Gerda Boyesen was often called "the lady with the stethoscope" in body psychotherapeutic circles as she used the stethoscope to get a clearer impression of the bowel noises of her clients. She could allegedly differentiate a multiplicity of peristaltic noises, diagnostically arrange and make inferences on the subconscious processes of the clients. To Gerda Boyesen it was a good sign when the client's "psychoperistalsis" was in a particular way at the end of a session. That meant it was resolving somewhat and would be able to organize anew without the old restricitve pattern.
Apart from the emphasis on gentle unloading through massage she also worked with Wilhelm Reich's vegetotherapy as well as the theories of Jung and Freud, and she continued to develop these into her own method. In this manner the client is to be encouraged to discover his or her own mental experience (introspective ability), to follow and to express his or her bodily-psychological impulses. Unconscious conflicts would in this way be brought to the surface and to conscious attention and could then be further processed with psychotherapy and finally resolved.
A further element is the Deep Draining, a special kind of massage aimed at affecting "deeper layers," which is supposed to contribute to attitude changes, physically as well as psychologically. Neurotic patterns would thus be traced, loosened and finally resolved.
Beside Jay Stattmann (Unitive body psychotherapy), Alexander Lowen (Bioenergetics), David Boadella (Biosynthesis), and Ron Kurz (Hakomi), Gerda Boyesen is one of the founders of modern body psychotherapy. Gerda Boyesen was honorary member of the European Association for Body Psychotherapy (EABP) as well as honorary president of the German Gesellschaft für Biodynamische Psychologie (Society for Biodynamics psychology), the professional association for biodynamics therapists in Germany. The education of Biodynamics body psychotherapists through the European School for Biodynamics and Erogenetics (ESBPE) in Lübeck is recognized by the EABP as a psychotherapist education.
Like most body psychotherapeutic schools, Biodynamics isn't recognized by the health insurance companies in the United States as a scientifically based therapeutic intervention.
Nevertheless the scientific psychotherapeutic research continues and many of its theories are later confirmed.
In Switzerland, Biodynamics is covered by heath care insurance and is on the verge of being accepted as one of the first methods in alternative medicine.
In several other counties Biodynamics isn't recognized by evidence-based medicine as a scientific method. Thus the German compulsory health insurance scheme (AOK) states: "The idea of "emotional residue" which is delivered via the bowels is scientifically baseless. Also there are no scientific studies to attest to the efficacy of the therapy. (...) It is surely so that anxiety and stress have effects on the vegetative nervous system of the intestines and would express itself as changes in digestive activity. However, the idea that intestinal noises is an expression of the psychological situtaion of the patient cannot be established."
However, this does not alter the fact, that Biodynamics can be well received by clients but this may be due to [placebo effect]].
- Boyesen, Gerda; Boyesen, Mona Lisa, "Biodynamische Theorie und Praxis", in: Hilarion G. Petzold [Ed.], Die neuen Körpertherapien, 1st ed. Paderborn: Jungfermannsche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1977, pp. 140-157
- Boyesen, Gerda; Boyesen, Mona Lisa, Biodynamik des Lebens: Die Gerda-Boyesen-Methode - Grundlage der biodynamischen Psychologie, Essen: Synthesis, 1987, 183 p.
- Boyesen, Gerda, Über den Körper die Seele heilen: Biodynamische Psychologie und Psychotherapie, Munich: Kösel, 1994 (7th ed.) ISBN 3-466-34167-1
- Boyesen, Gerda; Leudesdorff, Claudia; Santner, Christoph, Von der Lust am Heilen: Quintessenz meines Lebens, Munich: Kösel, 1995, ISBN 3-466-34323-2
- Boyesen, Gerda, Entre psyché et soma, Payot, 1996 ISBN 2-228-89064-2
- Boyesen, Gerda; Bergholz, Peter, Dein Bauch ist klüger als du, Hamburg, Miko-Edition, 2003 ISBN 3-935436-13-0
- The Gerda Boyesen International Institute
- ESBPE (German)
- U.S. Association for Body Psychotherapy (USABP)
- European Association for Body Psychotherapy (EABP)
- The London School of Biodynamic Psychotherapy (Gerda Boyesen Method) Ltd a non-profit Training School offering introductory workshops and UKCP recognised (United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy) Diploma Course (4 yrs part-time) and Therapist referral in the UK
- Chiron Centre for Body Psychotherapy - London
- London based Biodynamic Body Psychotherapist
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