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The embodied client/lead : an investigation of the somatic experience in therapeutic enactment Tavormina, Enza Maria Patrizia

Abstract

Therapeutic enactment is an action oriented therapy that has its roots in psychodrama. In therapeutic enactment, as in psychodrama, the embodied experience is pivotal to healing and transformation. Both psychodrama and therapeutic enactment employ movement and engage the client in an interpersonal, experiential and action oriented process that emphasize the embodied experience. Personal integration is facilitated by assisting the client to move from thinking, reasoning and talking to embodied experiences such as action, doing and awareness of bodily sensations. Despite the importance assigned to embodiment in the theoretical and conceptual frameworks of psychodrama and therapeutic enactment, there is a striking absence of research examining the client's experience of his/her body in the therapeutic contexts of psychodrama and therapeutic enactment. This study explored the question: What is the somatic experience of the client/lead in therapeutic enactment? Employing a phenomenological research approach, this study investigated the embodied experiences of three participants as leads within therapeutic enactment. Essential themes that emerged from the interviews about the somatic experiences of the lead in therapeutic enactment included sensorimotor responses (tension, the quality of one's breathing, the quality of one's pace, gazing, voice, and shifting the weight in one's body posture), the act of seeing and being seen, preparatory movements of defence, congruency and dissonance, processes of containment and self-regulation, the touch, position, presence and proximity of the facilitator, and memory as rooted in the body. The findings in this study along with the current theory in neuroscience research and sensorimotor therapy suggest that the bodily experience of the client in therapeutic enactment is jointly connected to and inseparable from the cognitive and affective experiences of the client and that the language of the body needs to be understood and engaged, not peripherally, but alongside cognition and affect within therapy.

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