Mind / body psychotherapy is a holistic approach to therapy that is relatively new. Or some would say that it is an ancient pathway to knowledge and healing that is coming back into awareness in the West after a long century out in the dark. In fact, for nearly a century, psychotherapy (a la Freud and Jung) was a journey into the human experience through dreams, images, emotions, fantasies, desires, and drives. All of these phenomena were conceived of as mind-dwelling structures that influenced psychological states. Later in history, other therapists rejected this notion and instead emphasized relationship dynamics, especially in couples, family systems and the social environment. Still others–psychiatrists, in particular–touted a medical model, which asserted that psychological problems, such as depression or anxiety, are best seen as biological imbalances ideally corrected through pharmaceuticals–pills. Regardless of approach or perspective, somehow the body remained left out and ignored in the theories and practice of psychotherapy and psychiatry for many decades.
The body came back into therapy over the past two decades, when a few simultaneously occurring phenomena converged to form what is now called mind / body psychotherapy: 1) psychotherapists observed that emotions and behaviors are not merely mind phenomena, but also body or embodied phenomena, and therefore began experimenting with body-oriented therapeutic approaches; 2) neuroscientists began seeing, through powerful imaging technologies like fMRI and PET, that instead of the previously imagined brain-dominated, hierarchical system, the mind/body system is better conceived of as an integrated set of bi-directional communication / response systems–between the body and the brain and between the brain and the body; and 3) researchers and therapists started experimenting with mindfulness practice as psychotherapy (not religious practice). The convergence of these three phenomena has resulted in mind / body psychotherapy, which acknowledges and treats the person according to the interconnections between body, mind, brain, physiology, genetics, relationship and familial dynamics, behavior, environment, culture, society, etc.