Relational Psychosomatic Psychotherapy

What is Relational Psychosomatic Psychotherapy?

Relational Psychosomatic Psychotherapy is a therapeutic approach, developed initially in France and now practiced internationally. It aims to reach and understand a person at a critical time of their life (their disease or ill-physical condition) as a whole being transcending the distinction between soul and body.

This approach proves to be of great value and benefit helping people, where a particular traumatic relational life event or stressful situation is suspected to be behind the manifestation of a specific physical illness or condition such as:

  1.  Chronic pain, headaches, asthma, allergies, epilepsy, hypertension, fibromyalgia,  chronic fatigue, endocrine disorders,
  2.  Auto-immune diseases, and
  3.  Cancers

Therapeutic approach

This therapeutic approach sees the physical illness, or ill-condition, as taking place within a specific relational difficulty that equally involves mind and body and is characterised by a present or past conflictive situation that has developed into an “existential impasse”, a gridlock, following an unsolvable stressful and painful experience, such as traumas or “double bind” relational dilemmas.

The relational impasse involving the unsolvable conflict is not considered as direct cause of the illness or ill-condition, but as a powerful factor that diminishes the mind-body ability for adaptation and health. This internal gridlock weakens the complex psycho-neuro-immune system potential to efficiently resist the environmental, psychosocial, emotional and genetic pressures that each particular individual is subject to at various periods of their life such as infancy, childhood, adolescence and adulthood.

Aims of treatment

Relational Psychosomatic Psychotherapy aims at exploring, breaking down and understanding this relational impasse in its past or present context. This is helped by a non-judgmental, empathetic, creative and perceptive presence and input of the therapist, mediated by the therapeutic relationship, the exploration and the expression of the manifestations of the body, soul, dreams, affect and emotions. This has the strong effect of dissolving the impasse as the person has changed helped by the therapeutic space, time and work; they reconstruct and recover their previously undermined mind-body identity and their life generating potential force.

The most decisive conflict, in these situations, has to do with the question of the identity of the self – who we are, as different from others. As illustration, we can say that in allergy the possibility of affirming our self as different from others is not definitely acquired. In case of autoimmune disease, this differentiation in the self exists already but it is lost afterwards for different reasons. And in cancer the impasse/gridlock, does not concern primarily the possibility of being different, but rather the possibility of simply “being and existing” (Prof Sami-Ali).