Deep Draining

Extract From “Between Psyche and Soma – Introduction to Biodynamic Psychology” ( DEEP-DRAINING) – By Gerda Boyesen

“Deep-Draining” on the ‘wing’ – shoulder girdle and scapula

“One of the first things that struck me was that the body literally “encapsulates” [1] emotions and stressful experiences by making the muscles so rigid that the contractions become chronic; the repressed emotion is held intact by the muscular tension itself. But by working methodically on these areas of permanent tension, the encapsulation dissolved and the repressed emotions of the stressful experiences “came back to life”, so to speak.

The process of emotional encapsulation is a fascinating and complex phenomenon, and one that played a central part in my research for many years. Not only does it explain the physical and vegetative process of repression, but it also helps to explain the associated psychodynamic process when repression is re-awakened during therapy. It provides the key to understanding the success of BülowHansen’s treatment.

Yet neither she nor my other colleagues were interested in discussing what actually took place in the body depths during and between the massage sessions. We learned the method, we followed the rules we were given, we got excellent results – and that was that. I was alone in asking these questions, exploring the method and theorising about the answers.

[1] We use the term “encapsulation” to designate the process of armouring or enclosing which keeps the energy static, as though encapsulated”. 

Gerda Boyesen 1979 

“Deep-Draining” on muscles in the inner thigh

“Deep-Draining” or “psycho-postural treatment” is a specialised psychotherapeutic massage technique developed by Gerda Boyesen based on training she received from the Norwegian physiotherapist Aadal Bulow Hansen. It is so named because it is designed to help the client’s natural elimination processes to drain excess nervous energetic fluid from the cells and tissues. If left in the body, this can lead to stasis and distension, as well as feelings of fullness and internal pressure.

Deep-draining is a systematic and structured treatment that is applied on the skeletal muscles and on the muscles involved in respiration and breathing. This is essential in order to loosen tension on the physical level. Originally this treatment was used mostly for people whose emotional energy was so strongly encapsulated within the muscles that they hardly experienced any feeling or emotion at all, neither pain nor pleasure. A person with such armouring is known in biodynamic terms as having a ‘stone’ structure.

The aim of the treatment is to dissolve the muscle armour and release this encapsulation, thus making the client’s emotional energy available to them again – usually first as sensations and later as emotions. Feelings can then be worked with using the biodynamic psychotherapy methods within the deep-draining context.

“Deep-Draining” on the calf muscles – lower leg

Deep draining also works on “segments” of the body and was first known as psycho-motoric massage. This term describes the direct and symbiotic link between psychological or emotional states and muscular tension or “armouring” as defined by Dr. Wilhelm Reich.

Deep-draining focuses on how to bring the muscle system back to healthy functioning as the regulator (not the inhibitor) of the spontaneous emotional and muscular system. (‘motoric ego’) The aim of deep-draining is to restore tonus to the muscles. Where tonus has been disturbed, or where the startle reflex pattern is encapsulated in the muscles, changing the posture and shortening the breath, different approaches must be used to understand and restore tonus and function.

Where there is hyper-tonus in the muscle, the biodynamic psychotherapist uses a ‘little-by-little’ approach to the solution of the ‘somatic compromise’. Mobilise – empty – mobilise- empty – mobilise – empty. This approach mobilises a little of the encapsulated energy at a time and brings it through the “firing zone” where the emotion is liberated and the former holding or charge is discharged.

Formerly trapped energy is now restored and any excess nervous energetic fluid can be emptied via psycho-peristalsis and the kidneys, monitored by the loudspeaker stethoscope. This new fresh energy can then be harmonized and in this way the muscles can learn to gently give up the compromise permanently.

Where there is loss of tonus, hypo-tonus or “absence of tonus” in the muscle, this can lead to feelings of resignation. Often hidden beneath the layers of hyper-tonus there will be hypo-tonus, and this hypo-tonus can trigger depression.

Beneath a superficial layer of hypo-tonus there could equally well be layers of hyper-tonus in the depths of the muscles. All kinds of combinations are possible. There might be hypo-tonus on the surface, hyper-tonus underneath it and another layer of hypo-tonus at an even deeper level, close to the bone; or vice versa.

“Deep-draining” on hypo-tonic muscles – upper arm

Where there is hypo-tonus, the biodynamic psychotherapist uses the “holding” method to hold the specific muscle for as long as it takes for the breath that has been held to be released and for the startle reflex pattern to be unravelled. This supportive approach encourages and invites the resigned and withdrawn energy back into the muscles.

Often whatever feeling has been held back, can now also come gently through, regulated by the new breathing. Sometimes there is an initial temporary trembling or shaking as the fear battery discharges and the new energy courses into its original pathways. This flow brings substance, strength, vitality and tonus – to the muscles, and restores the feeling of self-confidence and capacity in the client.

Deep-draining treatments aim to permanently resolve the conflict between the involuntary muscle system and the involuntary emotional system. This results in a healing change in the posture and as a consequence, a healing change of attitude that will always be beneficial for the client. This is known as psycho-postural change and it is a transformational experience.

Deep-draining (psycho-postural treatment) is always a psychotherapeutic treatment. It works intrinsically with the psychodynamic aspects of the client’s process.

Please Note: Because of the special nature of the deep-draining process clients are required to attend for a minimum of 20 sessions in the basic contract ( stand-alone) and if required 20 sessions for the advanced contract, which includes psycho-postural change.

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