Somatic Psychotherapy and Psychotherapy are empirically validated forms of mental health treatment that have been in practice in Europe, the USA and UK for more than 50 years. The following links and pages are to help you locate services, understand more about and connect with the community of Somatic Psychotherapists in Australia. If you have some information that you think could be on this page, please contact us here.
For the public
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The Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia is a leading national peak body and professional association for counsellors and psychotherapists in Australia. Our mission is to represent the profession to communities and government, and to develop the evidence-base for counselling and psychotherapy.
PACFA promotes the development and practice of counselling and psychotherapy and respects and supports the diversity of approaches within the field. We provide a united forum for practitioners and for counselling and psychotherapy associations, to foster professional identity, support training and research, and ensure public accountability.
beyondblue is the national initiative to raise awareness of anxiety and depression, providing resources for recovery, management and resilience.
Lifeline is a national charity providing all Australians experiencing a personal crisis with telephone access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
headspace is the National Youth Mental Health Foundation. They help young people who are going through a tough time. If you’re 12–25, you can get health advice, support and information from headspace.
- Telephone: 000 or
- Contact your GP or
- Poisons Hotline: 13 11 26
For Health and Mental Health Professionals
Want to read about the effectiveness of Somatic Psychotherapy and Psychodynamic Psychotherapy
Selection of Somatic (Body Oriented/Inclusive) Psychotherapy Efficacy Studies
1. Preliminary results concerning the effectiveness of Body Psychotherapies in outpatient settings. A multi centre European study. Koemeda-Lutz M., Kaschke, M., Revenstorf, D., Schermann, T., Weiss, H. & Soeder, U. (2006).
After six months of therapy, patients had significantly improved with small to moderate intraclass effect sizes. After two years of treatment, large effect sizes are reached in all scales (BAI, BDI, SCL-90-R, IIP-D). The authors note however, the database presently available for this latter result is not substantial enough yet.
2. Effect of body-oriented psychological therapy on negative symptoms in schizophrenia: a randomized controlled trial. FRANK RÖHRICHT and STEFAN PRIEBE (as published in Cambridge Online Journal: Psychological Medicine)
Patients receiving BPT attended more sessions and had significantly lower negative symptom scores after treatment (PANSS negative, blunted affect, motor retardation). The differences held true at 4-month follow-up. BPT may be an effective treatment for negative symptoms in patients with chronic schizophrenia. The findings should merit further trials with larger sample sizes and detailed studies to explore the therapeutic mechanisms involved.
3. An exploratory randomized controlled trial of body psychotherapy for patients with chronic depression (as published in The Journal of Affective Disorders. Elsevier www.elsevier.com)
Frank Röhricht, Nina Papadopoulos, Stefan Priebe. This is the first randomized controlled trial designed to evaluate the effectiveness of Body Psychotherapy (BPT) in patients with chronic depression. At the end of treatment patients in the immediate BPT group had significantly lower depressive symptom scores than the waiting group. The results suggest that BPT is a feasible treatment option for some of the patients with chronic depression who have not responded to any other available treatments, and that it may lead to significant improvements. Larger trials are now required to test the effectiveness of BPT in this patent group.
4. A long term large scale (n= approx 13,500) study to determine side effect and adverse events related to the Body Psychotherapy called Clinical Holistic Medicine (CHM), otherwise known as Biodynamic Body Psychotherapy (BBP) (as published Int J Adolesc Med Health. 2009 Jul- Sep;21(3):281-97.)
Therapy helped chronic patients with physical, psychological, sexual, psychiatric and existential problems to improve health, ability, and quality of life. BBP is Effective in the treatment of mentally ill patients (schizophrenia, anxiety, poor mental health, low general ability). Intensive, holistic non-drug medicine is helpful for physical, sexual, psychological, psychiatric and existential problems and is completely safe for the patient. Altogether about 18,000 patients treated with different subtypes of CHM (BBP) in four different countries have now been evaluated for effects, side effects and adverse events, with similar results.
5. Chronic pain and Psychodynamic Body Therapy: A controlled outcome study. Monsen, Kirsti; Monsen, Jon T. (as published in Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, Vol 37(3), 2000, 257-269.)
This study demonstrated that at the second interval of questionnaires, the pain was significantly reduced in the PBT group compared to the controls, and 50% of the PBT patients reported no pain. The findings further showed a significant and substantial change on the level of somatization, depression, anxiety, denial, assertiveness, and social withdrawal, and increased affect consciousness. The results remained stable at the third interval, and the PBT patients even continued their improvement on some scales during follow-up.
6. Affect-focused Body Psychotherapy in Patients with Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Evaluation of an Integrative Method –Berg, Adrienne Levy; Sandell, Rolf & Sandahi, Christer: Karolinska Institutet, Stolkholm, Sweden. As published in Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, 19(1), March 2009, p. 67-85
The aim of this study was to explore the long-term effects of affect- focused body psychotherapy (ABP) for patients with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), in comparison with psychiatric treatment as usual (TAU). The patients were assessed before treatment and followed up 1 and 2 years after inclusion. In both groups, there was a significant improvement. On termination, the ABP group had improved significantly more on the SCL-90 Global Symptom Index than the TAU group, whereas the differences were short of significance on the other two scales. The integration of bodily techniques with a focus on affects in a psychodynamically informed treatment seems to be a viable treatment alternative for patients with GAD
7. For a thorough and ever expanding list of research please visit our sister website in Europe: The European Association of Body Psychotherapists. They have a web page dedicated to publishing research.
8. To connect to the US Association for Body Psychotherapy.
Selection of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Efficacy Studies.
1. The efficacy of psychodynamic psychotherapy. Shedler, Jonathan. American Psychologist, Vol 65(2), Feb-Mar 2010, 98-109
Empirical evidence supports the efficacy of psychodynamic therapy. Effect sizes for psychodynamic therapy are as large as those reported for other therapies that have been actively promoted as “empirically supported” and “evidence based.” In addition, patients who receive psychodynamic therapy maintain therapeutic gains and appear to continue to improve after treatment ends. The perception that psychodynamic approaches lack empirical support does not accord with available scientific evidence and may reflect selective dissemination of research findings.
2. Psychodynamic psychotherapy: A systematic review of techniques, indications and empirical evidence (as published in Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice Volume 80, Issue 2, pages 217–228, June 2007). Falk Leichsenring* and Eric Leibing
Psychodynamic psychotherapy is one of the most frequently applied methods of psychotherapy in clinical practice. However, it is the subject of controversial discussion, especially with regard to empirical evidence. In this article we aim to give an up-to-date description of the treatment and to review the available empirical evidence. Evidence is reviewed for both efficacy and mechanisms of change of short- and moderate-term psychodynamic psychotherapy. Furthermore, results of effectiveness studies of long-term psychoanalytic therapy are reviewed.
Results. Twenty-three randomized controlled trials of manual-guided psychodynamic psychotherapy applied in specific psychiatric disorders provided evidence that psychodynamic psychotherapy is superior to control conditions (treatment-as-usual or wait list) and, on the whole, as effective as already established treatments (e.g. cognitive-behavioural therapy) in specific psychiatric disorders. With regard to process research, central assumptions of psychodynamic psychotherapy were confirmed by empirical studies.
If you are a psychiatrist, psychologist, mental health worker, social worker, counselor and want to know more about how a somatic psychotherapist could assist with your ongoing treatments.
Research for body based adjuncts to therapy.
In this section you will find some research articles on the effectiveness of using some aspect of somatic therapy as a stand alone therapeutic intervention – often run in groups, as well as certain aspects of somatic practice being offered in conjunction with ongoing treatments.
1. Bioenergetic exercises in inpatient treatment of Turkish immigrants with chronic somatoform disorders: A randomized, controlled study. Nickel, M., Cangoez, B., Bachler, E., Muehlbacher, M., Lojewski, N., Mueller-Rabe, N., Mitterlehner, F., Egger, C., Leiberich, P., Rother, N., Buschmann, W., Kettler, C., Gil, F., Lahmann, C., Fartacek, R., Rother, W., Loew T.H. & Nickel, C. (2006). Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 61, 507-513
The Symptom Checklist (SCL- 90 – R) and State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory (STAXI) were employed. Results: According to the intent-to-treat principle, the ‘bioenergetic analysis’ group achieved significantly better treatment results on most of the SCL-90-R and STAXI scales. Conclusions: BE appears to improve symptoms of somatization, social insecurity, depressiveness, anxiety, and hostility in the inpatient therapy of subjects with chronic somatoform disorders. Reduction of the anger level and reduction in directing anger inwards, with a simultaneous increase of spontaneous outward emotional expression, could be expected.
2. Movement and psychodynamic pattern changes in long-term dance/movement therapy groups. Dosamantes, E. (1990), American Journal of Dance Therapy, 12, 27-44.
The benefits of performing long-term dance/movement therapy process research are underscored by this study. Shifts among selected movement and psychodynamic variables were tracked at set time intervals over the duration of 2 two-year long psychodynamically-oriented dance/movement therapy groups; The findings confirmed clinically-predicted changes among participants relative to individual and interactional movement style, and with respect to the following psychodynamic variables: object-choice of prevailing fantasy, prevailing affective theme explored, level of group trust and self esteem experienced, and perception of therapist. The results further revealed several patterns within as well as between some of the psychodynamic variables studied. For example, two different patterns emerged among participants with regard to their fantasy object-choice and affective themes explored. Additionally, the working through of anger and rage was followed by a rise in self-esteem and group trust during the first year.