Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Group psychotherapy, Mind and body therapies, Mind and body, Body-oriented psychotherapy, Therapist processes, Interpersonal group psychotherapy, Therapist perspectives, Body-oriented practices, Integrative approaches, Somatic psychotherapy, Clinical practice, Group work


An increasing number of therapists are turning to body-oriented practices in response to the perceived shortcomings of talk therapy. Although the literature on individual approaches to body-oriented therapy is growing, we currently know very little about how clinicians are adapting these models to group psychotherapy. Using a grounded theory methodology, this study explores the experiences of fifteen clinicians who have integrated body-oriented practices into interpersonal group therapy. I analyzed data from 40-60 minute telephone interviews through an iterative process of open and focused coding using the constant comparative method. This process revealed participants' common theory of body-oriented practice in group psychotherapy. Major findings included describing the way body-oriented practices extend and innovate upon traditional talk therapy models by using the body as the central vehicle for accomplishing key therapeutic tasks. Study participants described drawing on bodyoriented practices to access affect, uncover unconscious material, increase selfawareness, build emotional tolerance, deepen the capacity for connection, and strengthen resources for change. Participants encountered a range of challenges in pioneering this new approach, but found that body-oriented practice also facilitated professional renewal. Because this is an emerging area of practice, numerous debates remain and participants identified key concerns that may spur future research. In particular, findings highlighted the lack of body-oriented group screening and practice guidelines, as well as insufficient training, as areas in pressing need of future research.




iii, 167 p. : ill. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2012. Includes bibliographical references (p. 140-152)

Limited Access until August 2017