Aliveness Podcast Transcript – Recorded 29th march 2017 Dr. Vita Heinrich-Clauer (Energetic Interventions Mobilization vs Holding)
Interview done by Tor Arne Håve with Dr. Vita Heinrich-Clauer. The purpose of the interview is to provide more information about the content and organization of the upcoming BA workshop in Gothenburg during 4 days from 15th until 18th of June 2017. The text contains an introduction of the Workshop teacher Dr. Vita Heinrich-Clauer, background information about bioenergetics, an explanation of the workshop theme “mobilization versus holding”, how the workshop is organized and lastly about how the training program for BA is organized.
The Interview transcript
Tor: Hello my name is Tor Arne Håve and I’m welcoming you to the Aliveness podcast. Today I’m having a special guest with me and her name is Vita Heinrich-Clauer from Germany. She is a Doctor in Psychology and an international trainer for bioenergetic analysis. A lecturer, a writer and is the author of Handbook Bioenergetic Analysis which is published in 5 European languages. She’s also an author of several papers in body psychotherapy which are about body work concepts and practical and clinical work in the field of body psychotherapy. What we’re going to talk about today is the theme of our workshop we’re going to have in Gothenburg. The workshop theme is “energetic intervention mobilization versus holding” in bioenergetics analysis. So welcome Vita, nice to have you here.
Vita: Yes hello good morning.
Tor: Good morning yes it’s the morning.
Vita: So should I explain a little what the training is going to be about in June in Gothenburg?
Tor: Yeah you can do that and if you like to fill in also about yourself a bit more so that people get to know you. I know you of course from some years we have done a lot of training together. So if you would like to say a bit about your role in the bioenergetic field.
Vita: Okay. So let me say I got enthusiastic about bioenergetics more than 30 years ago. I started my own training in 1985 and so it was a long journey, and now more than 30 years later I’m an international trainer for bioenergetic analysis. So I am travelling around in Europe, in different countries, also to Brazil and Russia – giving trainings for psychologists or medical doctors and all the people that are working in the field of body or body psychotherapy.
Tor: Yeah and you recently went to Bodo that’s so far away from Brazil but anyway…
Vita: I went to north Norway beyond the Artic Circle and did a workshop there for professionals – for psychiatrists, psychoanalysts, clinical psychologists and body workers who were interested in learning about bioenergetic analysis: How to work with energy? How to work with breathing? With movement? And how these movements and the way we are breathing are connected with our emotionality? So that’s a main issue in bioenergetic analysis. We work with movement with breathing in order to enhance emotionality. The link between emotions and breath was first pointed out by Wilhelm Reich. Freud never spoke about the breathing. In all his books there’s no hint about the breath of the patient or the therapist. Reich was the one who was studying the breathing and the energy flow in the body and how this then opens a pathway for emotions, for memories – working then on the defenses against memories by enhancing the breathing. Reich was working with the lying down position. In bioenergetic analysis we are working in different positions: lying down, standing, moving, taking stressful positions to challenge the muscles to give in or to surrender. Aiming to have more mobility or more softness in the body and to have access to emotions and body memories, So this training in June in Gothenburg is about mobilization because we have to move our body and to enhance breathing to be able to get our deeper emotions our primary emotions. Not only thinking that we are feeling. So we are working on that on how to mobilize energy and how to mobilize energy regarding the special themes we have as persons. Not only in general that we are enhancing energy by doing, like in yoga or in sports or in Pilates ….. We tried to find a link to refer to our themes which are connected, maybe a numbness in special parts of the body or not feeling this part. Then we start to explore or to go for this discovery: why do I maybe stiffen my chest, why do I close my heart and what’s happening if I surrender a bit more and soften my chest? Same with blocked necks, same with blocked backs. So we try to find out what issue or theme is hidden in this body block? And we try then to mobilize, to activate, to let the energy come through by more breathing.
Tor: So this is what you call energetic interventions then?
Vita: Yes. So bioenergetics is not just for fun and it’s not like in sports. It’s in order to bridge the gap most Western people have between thinking and feeling as well as between thinking feeling and body. In order to integrate a bit more of the personal biographical caused numbness, non-aliveness, blocked or stiff or painful parts of the body.
Tor: Yeah because you are talking about mobilization and holding so I just want you to explain a little bit about the holding. What is the holding? How can that occur what is it really in the body that can withhold something?
Vita: That leads us to the other part of body work. So if I talked about blocks and being stiff and numbness and not having access to vitality, to motility – this is one part. But there are people who all the time have access to their tearrs, all the time are energized and then lose their energy – we could say they are incontinent in terms of tears, in terms of maybe anger, incontinent in terms of energy. So if we are on that end of the spectrum with our body and our soul we need more structure and holding and containment.
So this is now referring to the modes we are using in bioenergetics analysis. We are either mobilizing or giving structure by holding, for example establishing a holding setting for those who have weak boundaries. For those who maybe have been flooded as a child or who have been traumatized in former times. Those might don’t have the feeling of being blocked but maybe more the feeling of being exposed all the time to surroundings or to social environment and what’s coming from outside and invading them. So we have to work on boundaries and containment solving or carrying within a holding environment or setting in therapy. Holding may also reduce some tension as you know. If somebody is holding your head it may cause better breathing and that you feel more of your body and you stop thinking because there is holding. It could be because somebody is supporting your back. If you are a lonely rider then there is finally somebody coming and supporting your back and you can lean back and breathe. By an holding intervention it could be that you relax your legs and your head – the whole body – because it is something that you never experienced before. Some of us didn’t have that in the family of orign.
Tor: So actually you are teaching by this intervention the body that there is a possibility to hold the charge or hold the energy. Is that anything?
Vita: We work in bioenergetic analysis between catharsis – what means really strong expression of emotions and discharge – and on the other hand we work with charging-containing for those who don’t have enough energy. In cases where there’s no possibility to discharge and to be contained because maybe they would feel weak and empty afterwards it is an option to work with charging. Mobilizing and charging energy and the containment could be done by the person itself or containment could be done by a holding setting in therapy. The therapist is leaning his or her body for safety, for structure, for going in slow motion and integrating this feeling of secure base in a relationship (or secure base in a group). Instead of acting out and feeling alone. To go on between expression, discharge on the one hand, and charge and contain (establishing boundaries) on the other hand is a special thing in bioenergetics – not working unidirectional with the body. We have several directions in bioenergetic analysis on an energetic level as I told just now which discharge and charge containing At the same time – that’s the plus in my opinion, a plus of bioenergetic analysis – we try to integrate the biographical stuff in what the body is doing now? And how the body is doing it? And how we can change the way? How we are repeating our stories, our old stories with our bodies and mind and soul? So we try to discover the patterns, the old patterns, and find a way about the “how” not only about the “why”(as in psychoanalysis) . How are you organizing your anger? How are you are organizing our sadness? How our numbness? And then try to find a way out to let the body learn a new pattern to deal with our emotions and with our relationships. So that’s different from yoga or Pilates or sports or very different from psychoanalysis.
Tor: Absolutely, it seems like it’s a new meeting for yourself, like coming into your sense and meeting yourself or organizing yourself in a new meaningful way. In many different ways actually. So I just want to say how do you organize this particular workshop? Is it 4 days?
Vita: Yes 4 days from Thursday afternoon to Sunday noon. It’s about 24 working hours. The group is a mixed group. There will be newcomers and there will be advanced trainees. So this model is to give space for the newcomers to have a self-experience with body work and bioenergetics, and to give opportunity to the advanced trainees who are in the clinical phase of their education to have an experience with working with themselves in the therapist role and being supervised by me and getting some resonance from the group. The theme would be the main thing which is on focus. I will teach the theme with different exercises in dyads or triads with the whole group. There will be a chance for all the newcomers to have an experience as patient, as client – and the “old rabbits” will work as therapists. So it’s a very interesting model or setting for teaching. I think since this is an old one-class-school-house model we are working with. It can be a benefit for the newcomers that there are old rabbits, and it has a benefit for the advanced trainees that there are innocent or curious newcomers who are not so much thinking about what should be done but just being curious and ready to go for an experience. So it’s like in a big family when a family meeting is with different generations that the young ones could benefit from the old ones and vice versa. That’s what I like to go for in June with this bioenergetic analysis training – as I said before we have the energetic level of experience and we have the bio, the biographical stuff of the person and how it shows up in the body. So that’s all I can say about Gothenburg now.
Tor: Yeah but that’s great. I mean it might be that we should also have a wish for welcoming new members because I really feel excited about coming to Gothenburg, its a beautiful place. It’s always a pleasure to come and meet people in these settings. Always changing me and I feel it’s giving a lot of value to me as a person. So I really wish for us to welcome newcomers and also the old rabbits as you call them like old comers.
Vita: Yes and I forgot to say that this training is international so there are people from Sweden from Norway and from Denmark and next time maybe from Poland and some other European countries. So all of you, all of those who are interested, who are able to talk English, are welcome and it doesn’t matter if this is then Germany or Poland or Netherlands – it’s Europeans. Since some years there’s a working group from Sweden, Norway and Denmark integrating in the Scandinavian area those colleagues who are curious and motivated and enthusiastic about body psychotherapy and bioenergetic analysis.
Tor: Yes and this is an open workshop, I guess we haven’t mentioned it. But you can say something about how we are organizing the training program?
Vita: The training in bioenergetic analysis is normally lasting 4 to 5 years. It’s a pre-clinical phase of 2 years and a clinical phase of 2 years. In the pre-clinical phase you’ll learn about the basic concepts and basic interventions. You’ll learn about character structure. In the clinical phase from the 3rd year on you’ll learn about yourself as therapists and how to start with body therapy and how to apply the interventions and how to integrate the verbal and the body work. This is done under supervision in the 3rd and 4th year. Mainly the training is 20 days a year. In Scandinavia the colleagues decided for a bit less, to do no rush hour or rush years so we have 2,5years the first phase and 2,5 years the second phase because we are only going for 3 trainings a year. Sometimes only 4 day-trainings. We stretched it a bit in Scandinavia because many people have to work, they are not able to spend their whole holidays for education. So we are trying to adapt to the needs of trainees – how they can deal with their money and their time. So it stretches from 4 to 5 years. But you can stop after 2,5years and then getting a certification as “exercise group leader” If you’re coming as a professional from another field and you’re not going for becoming a clinical psychologist or psychotherapist then you could strive for the first part of the training becoming bioenergetic exercise group leader. For instance if you work in the field of music or theatre or business coaching or in the field of healthcare you are a social worker and you don’t want to be a clinical psychotherapist you could just be there the first half of the training.
Tor: Yes I think that will be good enough for this program. I would love to have you back in a new interview round because there are so many interesting things in bioenergetic analysis and so many themes. So thank you very much Vita for attending and giving so much valuable information.
Vita: And thank you for inviting me for this interesting interview. So I just felt my enthusiasm again by talking about the thing…and so thank you.
Tor: Thank you! See you soon.