What is Bioenergetics and Bioenergetic Medicine? (And for what conditions it is used)

Blog Health What is Bioenergetics and Bioenergetic Medicine? (And for what conditions it is used)

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2.8.2023 0 comments

If you’ve never heard of bioenergetics or bioenergetic medicine, you’re in for quite an exciting treat!

This new holistic psychotherapy treatment takes a ground-breaking approach to your health and healing—instead of treating the problems externally, it starts by looking within and finding the internal causes that are behind the real issues and unblocking your body so it’s capable of healing itself.

It’s a truly fascinating method that is becoming far more widespread in our modern, enlightened age.

Read on to find out all about this radical treatment…

What is Bioenergetic Medicine and How Does it Work?

In the 1950s, a psychoanalyst by the name of Alexander Lowen developed the theory of bioenergetic analysis based on his medical experience and years of working with another renowned psychoanalyst, William Reich.

This theory of bioenergetic analysis believes that “when energy does not flow naturally between body and mind, it can become trapped and devolve into problems that impact a person's functioning.” [1]

There are many types of energy in and around the human body, including:

  • Sound

  • Electromagnetic energy

  • Magnetic energy

  • Electrical energy

  • Temperature

  • Force

The human body is a complex interplay of all these energy types. For example, electrical energy is how your brain transmits signals. Sound is how you communicate. Biomagnetic energy is produced by your brain and heart. Biochemical energy is how your cells are powered.

These energies all must flow correctly, but according to bioenergetic medicine, when they don’t, they result in problems—which may include depression, anxiety, panic attacks, phobias, and more.

Lowen established the Institute for Bioenergetic Analysis (IBA) in 1956 in order to further research and practice his techniques of using energy manipulation to treat problems.

Bioenergetic medicine tries to identify ways in which the body sends signals that the energy is being trapped—for example, excessive rigidity in the spine, tightness or hunching in the shoulders, clenching of the jaw, stomach blockage, a suppressed immune system, and slow movements, to name a few—and then use psychotherapy to attempt to treat the underlying causes behind that improper energy flow.

What Can Bioenergetic Medicine Treat?

Bioenergetic medicine is typically used to treat problems that involve both the emotions and the body—or, put another way, physical manifestations of emotional problems. These may include but certainly aren’t limited to:

  • Eating disorders

  • Chronic pain

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Chronic stress

  • Grief

  • Post-traumatic stress

  • OCD

  • Addictions

It is also used to treat the stress and tension that can accumulate as a result of physical or emotional trauma.

One study from 2006 [2] found that just six months of the therapies used in bioenergetic medicine led to significant improvement, with even more improvement over the long term (two years). The use of body-focused psychotherapeutics can have some very positive outcomes for a wide variety of people dealing with a number of mental and emotional disorders, as you can see by the list above.

Types of Bioenergetic Therapies

There are a number of types of therapies used in bioenergetic medicine, some of all of which may be used in the various sessions to treat specific problems. These therapies may include:

  • Sensory awareness, used to help clients develop greater awareness of the sensations their body experiences, everything from tastes to smells to feelings to sounds. This therapy can help to both release tension from the body and encourage a sense of “grounding”, that causes them to feel rooted in the present.

  • Grounding, which uses exercise or physical movement to help clients feel connected to their bodies in the present moment, while also discharging excess energy and releasing the tension that could be interfering with their natural energy flow.

  • Movement, which uses simple physical movement (such as walking or running or dancing) to express specific emotions (anger, frustration, sadness, etc.), or to release pent-up tensions and emotions.

  • Supportive contact, which uses touch to help ground clients in the present and enable them to focus on a specific sensation or feeling.

  • Containing, which encourages clients to avoid certain movements that cause them to contain their emotions, preventing them from feeling what’s truly taking place within them. For example, tapping one’s foot to contain nervousness or crossing one’s arms to contain feelings of uncertainty. By avoiding these movements, it encourages the person to feel fully, and helps them to explore the emotions that they would otherwise trap within them.

These are just a few of the techniques used in bioenergetic medicine, all of which can have positive benefits if administered correctly by a trained professional to suitable clients.

Are There Downsides to Bioenergetic Medicine?

As with any holistic therapy, there will always be downsides. Chief among them is the fact that bioenergetic medicine is still a very under-researched field of treatment.

While a “moderate amount of research” [3] has gone into the therapies and their benefits, there is still a great deal yet to be explored and discovered. A great deal of bioenergetic medicine is also founded chiefly on Lowen’s personal observations and experience, with limited empirical evidence to back it up.

Bioenergetic medicine also has its limitations. It’s intended to treat psychological and emotional issues, specifically those that lead to a physical manifestation in the body, but it won’t deal with all psychological problems or disorders, and certainly not medical conditions.

Bioenergetic medicine is not a replacement for medications. It can be used in addition to medications prescribed to treat psychological or psychiatric conditions, but shouldn’t be used in place of it.

Finally, there is the potential downside to those who are uncomfortable with touch. A great number of bioenergetic therapy sessions do rely heavily on supportive touch, and people who have had their physical boundaries violated at some point in their lives may find the use of touch not only doesn’t provide positive benefits, but can may have deleterious effects.

In Conclusion:

Bioenergetic medicine is a fascinating field of therapy that is receiving ever-greater interest from the holistic health community. Thanks to its unique approach to treating conditions, using the body’s own energies to heal itself from within, it may offer benefits that can lead to visible improvement in conditions like depression, anxiety, OCD, eating disorders, and more.

While it does have its limitations, it’s still a treatment worth considering if you’re looking for a new—and possibly better—means of treating a psychological or emotional problem that has been plaguing you for years and causing physical side effects.


[1] https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/bioenergetic-analysis

[2] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17160789/

[3] https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/bioenergetic-analysis


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