Wilhelm Reich, who was a student of Freud, developed his theory of character structure defence at the turn of the last century. Character structure defence is how we have learnt to protect ourselves from bring hurt emotionally. We do this by creating core belief about ourselves and the world and also energetically in the body. Alexander Lowen, who was a client and student of Reich, collaborated in developed the approach known as bioenergetics, which is techniques learnt to help identify emotional energy in the body and discharge it. In practice, these models gracefully complement each other in their theories and approach to resolving the effects of unconscious trauma in the body.
Within psychotherapy, what is frequently used is cognitive memory to look backwards at our history, to observe how we got to here, why we have become who we recognise we are. This is not the full extent of our resources of self- information. We also maintain an emotional history of self that we inhabit physically/somatic – a body history. There is an obvious and significant triad here.
Character structure defence and the bioenergetic approach have at their core an inclusion of the body in their theoretical framework and seek to provide an understanding of how the body process can be accessed and included in the psychotherapy relationship.