Auditorium – Presentation 1 13 October (16:30 – 18:00)

Opening speech on “Embodiment and its association with Body Psychotherapy”
by Ilse Schmidt Zimmermann and Frank Röhricht

Embodiment in a dis-embodied society

The title of the congress, as I understand it, demands not only a body psychotherapeutic perspective but a sociological discourse, which also implies a political understanding of our profession.
I will put forward the hypothesis, that disembodiment is closely related to subjects, discussed in sociology, social-psychology and social-philosophy under concepts of alienation and reification. Based on the sociological analysis of late capitalism and postmodernism, alienation is described there not only as a process but also as a state, in which a human beings process of “owning one`s own life” is prevented or hindered. This hindrance can extend to our own bodies, the products and processes of our work, who and what we are and what we want. We can consequently see the loss of this owning, the loss of the relationship to oneself, as a loss of our relationship to the world.
If the feeling of being a significant part for and in the world disappears, then it makes room for the feeling of being an object and reification.
In this lecture I will discuss the consequences of the divergence between self-realisation and alienation. The problem of losing our relationship with ourselves and with the world has fundamental repercussions: for our profession some of these are obvious: burnout, exhaustion and depression, anxiety states and chronic pain disorders to name but a few. In the sense of authors such as Elin Thunmann (Uppsala) and Ulrich Bröckling (Freiburg) burnout f.e. can never be just an individual affliction, but is always a societal pathology. A burnout patient is thus never only a medical/psychological case, but above all a social figure.

Ilse Zimmermann

Ilse Schmidt Zimmermann
She has studied Sociology, Psychology, and Pedagogy in Frankfurt am Main.
She is a professional Psychologist – Psychotherapist, also Psychotherapist for children and adolescents.
She was President of the European Associationfor Body Psychotherapy (EABP) from 1999 till 2002.
Psychotherapeutic education: Unitary Body Psychotherapy, Gestalt Therapy, Group Analysis Therapy and Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, as well as further training in Bioenergetic Therapy and Formative Psychology of Stanley Keleman.
She is the founder of the German Educational Program in Unitary Psychotherapy, also Lecturer, Supervisor, and Trainer of therapists in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy.

“Mis-bodiment” and the social “we-centric” space – Body Psychotherapy as an affective body regulation therapy

In my keynote I am going to concentrate on matters pertaining to body related or based regulation systems with particular emphasis on affect regulation for the two intrinsically connected aspects of self-regulation and regulation of being with others in social contexts.

Dealing with the theme of the conference and focusing upon the psychotherapeutic aspects, I am going to introduce issues concerned with “Mental Dis-Ease” as variations of common social (intercorporeal) regulation pattern. Hereby I am going to introduce patterns of mis-bodiment, taking embodiment for granted / non-negotiable and dis-embodiment as a matter of life and death only.

The organism is constantly thriving to achieve, cognitions are “for action” and emotions are adaptive responses to environmental changes. Emotions provide us with core interface functions for these regulation processes, they are helping us adjusting diverse aspects of physiology, cognition, behavior and motivation in ways that increase our ability to achieve needs fulfilment and to cope with challenging situations. Experiential therapies therefore emphasize the importance of affect regulation processes.

On that basis interventions in body psychotherapy can be best described as structured aiding tools to address difficulties resulting from hypo- or hyper- regulated adaptation pattern. Here Dis-Ease is developing as a consequence of chronic exposure and unsuccessful attempts to eliminate, contain or isolate adverse stimuli or social stressors. At that point often habitual, embodied response pattern develop, hampering the exploration of new strategies.

We can therefore identify patterns of maladjustment and describe them from a perspective of embodied cognition as “mis-embodiment” and develop our Body Psychotherapy intervention strategies accordingly. This is different to a commonly defined disorder specific approach, as it goes beyond mere describing of phenomena. Importantly, in this approach BPT takes guidance for the therapeutic approach from the phenomenological patterns of embodiment and their far reaching consequences on wellbeing, self-efficacy and social interaction.


Professor Frank Röhricht (FR), MD FRCPsych.
Consultant Psychiatrist (MD, FRCPsych); Body Psychotherapist; Honorary Professor Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies, University of Essex and Honorary Professor of Psychiatry St. George’s Medical School, University of Nicosia / Cyprus.

Frank Röhricht has a MD degree, State Exam in Medicine (Free University Berlin, Germany; MBBS equivalent, 1990); he is Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists UK and trained in Psychosomatic Medicine, Neurology and Psychiatry; he is a European Association of Body Psychotherapy (EABP) accredited (training 1983-1987) integrative Body Psychotherapist. He has 25 years of experience working as a doctor in different fields of medicine (including family medicine) and since 1997 he works a Consultant Psychiatrist in London for the NHS. For 13 years he was leading service developments, clinical governance and service delivery for adult mental health services in East London as Clinical Director; in November 2013 he was appointed into his new role as Associate Medical Director for Research and Innovation.
Member of the German Association for Psychosomatic Medicine (DKPM), Science & Research Committee European Association of Body Psychotherapy / EABP; Patron of the Association for Dance Movement Psychotherapy UK.

With several publications and through ongoing research activities Frank Röhricht is one of the leading researchers in the international field of Body Image Phenomenology and Body Psychotherapy in Mental Illness; other research: transcultural psychiatry; self-harm and long-term outcomes, service evaluation, off-licence prescribing. Frank Röhricht has published widely in peer reviewed journals and books (Publication list and downloads:, he has experience in supervising PhD and doctorate projects/students and is a peer reviewer for numerous scientific journals. He holds research grants both as principal investigator and co-applicant.

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