Table of Contents - Relaxation Awareness Resilience - Rosen Method Bodywork - a new book

Relaxation Awareness  Resilience
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PART 1:    Introduction and Overview

Marion Rosen, Founder of Rosen Method Bodywork

This chapter is a brief biography of who Marion Rosen was, and how she developed her method.  She viewed her method as a way to access feelings and experiences through the body; a way to access the unconscious through touch.  Marion Rosen believed that we have the innate ability to heal from physical and psychological injuries and limitations.  She likened Rosen Method Practitioners to “midwives” who can facilitate a fuller emergence of the self.  She believed that because the body does not lie, when we bring our compassionate awareness to our sensations and feelings, we come to the truth of who we really are.
How it Works: Overview of a Session

This chapter introduces the way Rosen Method Bodywork practitioners use touch and words to create an unconditionally accepting, caring and reflective relationship with their clients.  Through this relationship, clients are guided into an awareness of muscles that are chronically contracted.  As clients’ muscles release into the practitioner’s support, sensations and emotions that have been suppressed by muscle tension become available for conscious integration.  

hy it Works: Overview of the Theory of Healing and Transformation

This chapter discussed the theory underlying the Rosen Method.  Physical and psychological change occurs when we bring curiosity and non-judgmental acceptance to the sensations and emotional feelings that we are experiencing in the present moment.  Practitioners’ attunement provides the interpersonal safety that allows clients to bring their awareness to their bodily experience.  

The use of touch helps clients release the patterns of muscular tension that protect them from experiencing certain sensations and emotions which have been frightening or unacceptable in their past experience.  Muscular relaxation, when it occurs within a caring, unconditionally accepting relationship, provides clients with a gateway to sensations and emotional feelings, with their accompanying thoughts, images, memories and impulses to act, which have been suppressed through chronic muscle tension.  

Rosen Method Bodywork practitioners safely guide clients through this unknown territory by helping them tolerate sensations/emotional feelings that may be unpleasant, frightening or simply new and unexpected.  At every step in this process, Rosen Method Bodywork practitioners help clients regain the nervous system balance which allows them to safely allow and accept their felt experience.  

Who Benefits; Contra-indications

PART 2:  The Rosen Method Bodywork Therapeutic Process  

Why Touch? The Psychophysiological Impact of Positive Touch

The therapeutic relationship Rosen Method Bodywork practitioners build with their clients is based on the positive effects of using holding, receptive, responsive touch.  This chapter explains the physiological, neurological, psychological and interpersonal effects of positive touch.  

The Use of Listening, Responsive Touch

The touch Rosen Method Bodywork practitioners use is intentional. Practitioners
observe patterns of muscle tension in their clients’ bodies, and use that information to decide what muscles to contact, how long to remain there, and how to modulate their touch in response to changes in clients’ muscle tone.  The intentions behind the touch create the different qualities of the touch.

The intention of the initial touch is to make contact: to begin a relationship. The second intention is to listen and receive what the client’s body is expressing. The third intention is to explore, using curiosity. The fourth intention is to provide support to an area on the client’s body that has drawn the practitioner’s attention and curiosity in the dance of exploration.  The fifth intention is possibility.  

The Use of Words as a Third Hand to Deepen Experience

There are crucial differences between how words are used in Rosen Method Bodywork sessions and how words are used in counseling or psychotherapy sessions.  The intention behind the use of words in a Rosen Method Bodywork session is to reflect, support and deepen the client’s embodied experience.  This chapter describes how words are used in Rosen Method Bodywork to accomplish the following:  

  • Maintain the client’s sense of safety

  • Bring clients’ attention to their feelings and sensations, using mirroring observation

  • Distill the nugget of clients’ words

  • Clarify clients’ nonverbal experiences

  • Teach clients to bridge between conceptual and embodied self-awareness

  • Clarify when clients’ words reflect their embodied experience, and when they do not

  • Hold clients in their feelings and sensations long enough for integration  

The Use of Touch, Words and Relational Skills at the “Barrier to Self-Experience”

This chapter describes the natural ebb and flow of self-experience that occurs during Rosen Method Bodywork sessions.  It is normal and expected that clients will hit roadblocks as they release protective muscular defenses and become aware of sensations and emotions that they have needed to suppress.  Clients become anxious, or shamed, and become defensive or judgmental.  

This chapter describes how Rosen Method Bodywork practitioners meet their clients’ defenses, and help clients move through defenses into self-acceptance, relaxation and exploration.  Topics include the working with the following: anxiety reactions; blocking social emotions; barriers to taking in support and empathy; positive relational emotions; intimacy; disconnection and reconnection.  

The second half of the chapter names and defines the specific personal and interpersonal capabilities that practitioners develop in order to work with clients’ barriers to self-experience.  These include the following: employing embodied self-awareness for attunement and empathy; unconditional presence; a secure inner holding environment; affective competence (feeling and dealing); maintaining personal boundaries.

Creating and Sustaining  the Safe Container: Intersubjectivity and Coregulation

Rosen Method Bodywork practitioners’ compassionate, non-judgmental acceptance of their clients’ felt experiences enables practitioners to externally regulate their clients’ levels of emotional arousal.  This chapter describes the many ways that Rosen Method Bodywork practitioners may externally regulate their clients’ nervous system arousal when it is too high (hyper-arousal) or too low (hyper-arousal) to allow clients to safely tolerate their sensations and emotional feelings.  When clients feel “safe enough” they can bring their awareness to their felt experiences; they can choose to express their felt experiences to their practitioners; they are able to be open to and accepting of the practitioner’s contact, mirroring and compassionate acceptance.

Developing Emotional Self-Regulation: The Attachment Bond

This chapter describes the social/emotional capabilities associated with secure attachment patterns, and discusses how Rosen Method Bodywork clients may gain these capabilities through their sessions.  It then discusses how less than optimal (insecure) formative attachment experiences mold aspects of clients’ nonconscious beliefs about themselves and others, which may impede their ability to utilize the practitioner’s support.  

Understanding how past formative attachment experiences shape present relationships helps Rosen Method Bodywork practitioners create and maintain a therapeutic bond that is a base of safety from which each individual client can explore his/her embodied experience.  By supplying the attunement, reflection, and compassionate acceptance that was lacking in insecure formative attachment experiences, Rosen Method Bodywork sessions may modify clients’ nonconscious neural networks that: 1) assess interpersonal safety and threat in their social worlds;  2) coordinate relationship behaviors; 3) underlie aspects of their self-images.  Through these modifications, clients develop social/ emotional capabilities associated with optimal attachment experiences.

Working with Psychological Defense Mechanisms

Psychological defense mechanisms are cognitive, emotional and interpersonal coping strategies we develop to protect ourselves from re-experiencing agonizing emotions that have disrupted our ability to stay in important relationships, disrupted our sense of having a cohesive self, and disrupted our ability to function in the world.  Most psychological defense mechanisms are interpersonal in nature.  

This chapter names and describes various psychological defense mechanisms.  It is helpful for the Rosen Method Bodywork practitioner to be familiar with the range and colors of psychological defense mechanisms, so that they can develop skills to help clients acknowledge them, and move beyond them when they are ready to do so.     

This chapter gives guidelines and examples of how Rosen Method Bodywork practitioners work with specific defenses.  Rosen Method brings our psychological defense mechanisms into conscious awareness by guiding our awareness to the muscle tension that accompanies protective psychological defense mechanisms.  Until we have the opportunity to make these strategies conscious, they constrict and distort how we relate to others, as well as interfere with the ability to feel, acknowledge and communicate our authentic emotional experiences.  When we are not consciously aware of our protective strategies, we lose the choice to respond to life from an open, beginner’s mind, and with our full emotional potential.  

PART 3:   Psychophysiological Underpinnings

The Emotional Determinants of Chronic Muscle Tension

Rosen Method Bodywork practitioners bring their clients’ awareness to muscles that are in “holding” patterns of muscle tension.  When clients’ muscle tension releases, they often become aware of the purpose and meaning of their chronic tension.  Based on decades of clinical practice, Marion Rosen concluded that “the source of chronic tension is the emotional experience that never found full expression.”  This chapter describes how the neural areas that organize emotional responses engage voluntary muscles to both express and suppress sensations, emotions, and their associated impulses to act.

Functional Anatomy: The Language of the Body

Marion Rosen says, “The body tells the clearest what we want to hide the most.”  By paying attention to the clues that the body provides, by learning to read the language of the body, we can uncover more of what is true about ourselves and others.
Rosen Method Bodywork approaches the study of functional anatomy from this specific perspective: what would be possible for individuals if they did not restrict the sensations movement possibilities in certain areas of their bodies?  What are they protecting themselves from doing, feeling, expressing?  To gain this perspective, this chapter tours the body in order to describe the functions of major muscle groups.  
The second half of this chapter describes some patterns of posture and movement that reveal one’s inner experience and express one’s characteristic way of relating to others.  This section explores Marion Rosen’s statement, “The body is an outside manifestation of an internal state of being.”

The Importance of the Diaphragm Muscle for Self-Awareness and Transformation
Using the language of neurophysiology, this chapter traces the interconnection of what we think as “body” – the tone and movement of the diaphragm muscle – with what we think of as “mind” – self-awareness.

The chapter begins with a brief look at the diaphragm muscle itself, and how it functions as the primary muscle of inhalation.  It then traces the neurology of conscious and unconscious control of the diaphragm: how the diaphragm functions to allow us to express, control or suppress our emotional feelings.  Unconscious suppression cuts us off from an awareness of the underlying emotional feelings that are actually shaping our perceptions and our behavior, rendering them mysterious.  To understand the diaphragm’s role in emotional suppression we look at the neurophysiology of the threat/stress response, and see how we acquire our emotionally motivated habits of protection.

This chapter then describes how the breath of confirmation, or insight, is part of an awareness process involving healing and change. It concludes with a discussion of the diaphragm’s connection to spiritual experiences, showing how Rosen Method Bodywork brings together body, mind and spirit.                  
Embodied and Conceptual Forms of Self-awareness

This chapter describes the difference between two forms of self-awareness: embodied and conceptual.  Embodied self-awareness is the ability to pay attention to one’s sensations, movements and emotions in the present moment, without the mediating effects of judgmental thoughts.  Conceptual self-awareness is the ability to think about (analyze, judge, edit) one’s sensations, movements and emotions.

This chapter explains the essential role that embodied self-awareness plays in the neurophysiological processes of healing and change.  Rosen Method Bodywork is a process that fosters embodied self awareness, and also fosters integration.  Integration is the neurological process which links distinct modes of information processing (in this case, embodied and conceptual self-awareness) into a functional whole.  Integration is postulated to be the fundamental mechanisms of health.  

Sensations, Emotions, Moods

This chapter defines the interrelated concepts of sensation, emotion, emotional feeling and mood, with reference to their underlying neural structures.  The connections between sensations and emotions are explored, as are the differences between authentic (true) emotional feelings and inauthentic (performed, defensive) emotional feelings.

Implicit and Explicit Memory Systems

The memory systems that Rosen Method Bodywork clients access are body (somatosensory) memory and autobiographical memory. Body memory is an implicit memory system, and autobiographical memory is an explicit memory system.  This chapter defines and compares the implicit and explicit memory systems.  It explains how memories change over time, and are influenced by the present environment in which they are recalled.  

PART 4:   Theory and Practice of Working with Stress and Trauma

The Nature of Trauma; Body-focused Therapy for the Traumatic Response

This chapter examines the differences between stress and trauma, and explains the acute and chronic physiological and psychological effects of experiencing trauma.   Rosen Method Bodywork can play an essential role in the treatment of the lasting effects of traumatic experiences, because these past experiences are embodied in present physiological states and action tendencies: the trauma is reenacted in breath, gesture, sensory perception movement, emotion and thought.  Rosen Method Bodywork modulates some of the lasting psychophysiological effects of trauma by facilitating embodied self-awareness, self-regulation, and the capacity for interpersonal intimacy.  

PART 5:  Conclusion


Teaching Tools: Experiential Exercises; Sharing circles


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