The Surprising Connection between Posture and Resilience

When patients can’t find words to describe their experience, we can often find clues . . .

. . . in their posture, in the ways they move, and even in the limitations to their movement.

According to Pat Ogden, PhD, when a client has a greater range of movement options – or “movement vocabulary” – they’ll have more options for responding to life’s stresses.

And that can increase their resilience.

In the video below, Pat describes how she helped a client who had suffered years of abuse begin to expand her movement vocabulary.

Take a look – it’s about 5 minutes.

How have you used body language and movement in your work with clients? Please leave a comment below?


Please Leave A Comment



  1. Dodie Smith says:

    Fascinating! I’m rather new to the field and have never used this, but I interested in the mind/body connection in trauma clients.

  2. Lorraine says:

    Great insight

  3. Marianne, psychotherapist and trauma therapist says:

    I am learning SE right now and this helps me and my clients to build up again defense mechanisms, espress anger, sadness aso with the mocromovements I feel myself and see my clients doing! It is fantastic how quickly behaviour and lifes are changing! Never seen that before working with cognitive approaches before!

  4. Renny says:

    Marion Rosen created a playful way of expanding the body vocabulary as well. Rosen Method Movement is a playful way for this client care.

  5. Renny says:

    I was a student bof Emilie Conrad for thirteen years in Continuum movement. I implemented that knowledge base into deeper awareness for the clients with inclusion of breath and sound. It definitely increases the likelihood for a broader expansion of personal power in addition to increased body language.

    • Natalie Ann McDermott says:

      Is any of your work linked to NLP?

  6. Barbara Caspy says:

    Thank you! I’ve become more aware of how important it is to work with clients with their body language and movement. I’m going to try to use this more in actual sessions. For a long time I’ve encouraged clients to take yoga and dance to music at home.

  7. Paula says:

    I watch for children’s body movements so I can see how I need to proceed in helping them calm down, so they are able to express themselves. There are times I will get out the sand or play a game with them in order to change their body language. This helps distract and relax them so they are able to tell me what is bothering them.

    • Geri says:

      Thank you for the psycho edu ,it is, as always, the most interesting part.

  8. janet kells says:

    i work with cultivating body awareness, teaching the client to attend to their unique way of holding & defending and then tracking how it plays out in the here and now when stressed, what thought or emotions lies behind the body holding & in the moment making a choice to change what they do physically. They then begin to notice day to day, & practise choosing & being curious about what emerges or rises up from any change in what they choose to do. One woman today began to feel how she braced against her own anger and when softened her solar plexus she touched into being able to feel how she held herself & the emotions held there. Both then can shift, resolve & change; is is an on-going self care.

    • Geri says:

      Very helpful. Thank you.

  9. Dee says:

    This is new info for me. I’ll be more aware now about my clients body movements and able to read their feelings
    more accurately. Thank you. You always provide very valuable information.

  10. Kim says:

    Thank you.

  11. Lindsey M says:

    Fascinating! I will look more into this … thank you so much. I love all the comments too!

  12. Heather Taylor says:

    As an Occupational Therapist and a Core Specialist using Masgutova Neurosensorimotor Reflex Integration I use movement in every session and have seen remarkable changes not only in motor skills but also cognitive skills and emotional resilience. Reflexes are by definition innate movement patterns provided by nature for our protection and survival. In the face of trauma – be it physical, psychological, genetic, etc – reflexes can become unintegrated. MNRI reflex integration techniques help the individual link the sensory system and the motor system and allow for improved processing of information in the brain.

    In this video Ms. Ogden describes “reaching out” for items – which we address through the Robinson’s Grasp reflex. This reflex facilities many fine motor skills but also psychological skills such as perseverance (“hanging on”) and understanding (“grasping” concepts). She also describes “pushing” as a way of developing confidence which we address through the Hands Supporting reflex. This is the reflex that causes our hands to come out in front of us if we trip and begin to fall. Functionally it is present to protect our heads however it is also beneficial for boundaries – physically and emotionally. We use this reflex to help individuals who bully others – but also for those that are being bullied.

    MNRI has often been described as the “missing link” for occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech therapists, massage therapists, psychologists, teachers, etc. I would highly suggest anyone interested in using movement during their therapy sessions to take the Dynamic and Postural Reflex Integration course! www.

  13. Yes, all the time– I am a board certified dance/movement therapist and licensed professional counselor; tuning into and utilizing movement is central to how dance/movement therapists work. Pat Ogden’s sharing about posture and resilience is something all dance/movement therapists know well. Connecting to the nonverbal patterns of the client and working to expand the movement vocabulary is an essential component of our work. We share the belief that when we expand our movement vocabulary, we expand the options available to us. The Kestenberg Movement Profile (KMP), a systematic, developmentally grounded and in-depth movement assessment tool based entirely on the nonverbal was developed by Dr. Judith Kestenberg (psychiatrist and psychoanalyst) and the Sands Point Movement Study Group; it is used by many dance/movement therapists and clinicians and provides a refined language as well as a psychological interpretation for what is seen in the body.

  14. Andrea Andrews says:

    This is fascinating stuff. I have tested the movement literacy of adult learner swimmers in calf depth water and in chest depth water to check what range they can really do, purely out of curiosity. It makes such sense that learning to free up your movement in safe spaces impacts upon your emotional resilience because the inverse is true but at last everyone can see this very clearly through great communicating practitioners like Pat and begin to take advantage of it. I love NICABM.

  15. Suzy says:

    The body keeps score…

    Drop into the body
    Let go the pain
    Push, reach, grasp, pull
    Resiliant reality
    Honor your brain

    • Lilac says:

      I love this! Thank you for sharing!

  16. Lynne says:

    It sounded like this woman felt self blame for not being able to protect herself. “I allowed myself to be abused.” She felt powerless. When really she could not get away from this abusive relationship. She was helpless in the face of her abuser acknowledgement of this.

  17. I work with survivors of people who were raised by parents (and other attachment figures) with a severe mental illness. I use body language and movement awareness within a role-play or psycho-drama context. I’m wondering how to further incorporate Pat Ogden’s work into my clinical practice as a therapist, i.e., how to bridge my research into extending the body’s intelligence. Many Thanks.

    Suzette Misrachi
    CaN-ACOPSMI specialist

  18. Nicola says:

    I’m working with a client at the moment who has recently begun to recognise how right side dominant she is. Through our work together there has been a focus on developing more balance and moving away from this or that thinking (eg control or chaos); one of the key practices for her has been that of being kind, to herself and others. With a traumatic abuse history, her tendency has been to keep everyone at a safe distance and to be a strong and capable woman, albeit in a very controlled, rational thinking way. Our latest work with bringoing balance into her body is an extension of this work as she recognises that her left side is her repressed emotional side; she feels uncomfortable with using this side and finds it frustrating which reflects how feeling and expressing emotions is for her. Rather than focus on dealing with the discomfort of bringing more balance to her body (and by extension her mind) we are working again with the practice of kindness; that in allowing her left side to contribute and do more work it is being kind to her right side which has carried a heavy load for a long time and is now experiencing neck and shoulder tension on that side. It is proving to be powerful work.

  19. Lisa says:

    Thanks Pat! So lovely to have movement patterns/vocabulary and postures to be the focus of this discussion as this is a potent and effective entry way into positive change.

    Through my training in Laban Movement Analysis, Bartenieff Fundamentals and in the work of Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen and others in the realm of Dance/Movement Therapy I came to understand my own (what I refer to as) default patterns. These patterns, may well have served a purpose and were likely very helpful to the survival of my psyche when formed. However they got “locked in” so to speak and actually began to limit my growth and development and ability to experience life wholistically.

    Most of these patterns are unconscious and through bringing them to awareness, as well as realizing that there are other choices for my movement and postural vocabulary was life changing. These patterns are stubborn sometimes, yet I am getting better and better at catching myself in them and finding a way through them to a new and more healthy way of moving and standing and sitting and breathing that suits the situation that I am in more optimally. Movement is life!

    This work is of huge benefit to the therapeutic process (especially when dealing with early trauma) and in my view no counseling education program should be without it.

  20. I am an advanced certified practitioner in Sensorimotor Psychotherapy and I use movement when appropriate. Doing a movement is not always appropriate. For some clients, even trying a push can feel like too much. It is so important to be attuned, to be collaborative and always explicitly get the clients agreement–not a “I’ll do it because you’re asking me so I should do it” but a real willingness to give it a go and a real place of it being safe to give it a go.

  21. I resonated with Pat’s comment. As co-developer of “the body double ” role in the Therapeutic Spiral Model ™ of Psychodrama, I use the position of my own body to “double” the client’s body and “feel into ” what s/he may be feeling and then use my body and words to lead her ( or him) into a posture of safety in whatever form is needed in the moment . Thanks for sharing Pat’s work . Linda Ciotola

  22. Beverley says:

    This is not at all surprising. Dance/movement therapists have long applied the principle that expansion of movement repertoire enables clients to more fully experience and express themselves and engage with the world. As a Certified Movement Analyst, Dance/Movement therapist and clinical counselor, detailed observation of all aspects of my client’s movement assists understanding of my clients and informs strategic creation of movement based interventions on a daily basis for a broad range of client issues. A client’s movement often provides more reliable information about what is going on than a client’s verbal expression. It is a joy to help client’s build their awareness through movement.

    • Alison Pendergast says:

      Beverly, could you please direct me to your website? Thank you

      • Laura Rogers says:

        Alison, you can find out more about the field of Dance/Movement Therapy via the website of the American Dance Therapy Association: (Not sure if Beverly will respond here to your request).

  23. As a relational equine assisted therapist and coach, I see dramatic changes in posture and expansion of movement vocabulary when opportunities are included as a natural response to the work with the horse in the session. In our work with SA survivors in a six-week equine group, we see and hear in the post group responses how the movement with purpose creates a felt sense of empowerment and awareness that is subtle but powerful. I often reference Amy Cuddy’s work outlined in her book Presence… Thank you!

  24. Beverly says:

    Dancing to songs like Helen Reddy’s, “I Am Woman,” or Katy Perry’s, “Roar.”

    • Lilac says:

      Great songs! I love dancing as a way of expressing what I am feeling. I have a couple dances choreographed that I do when I need to get myself going in the morning or when I need to shock myself out of a dark place.

  25. Becky says:

    “The more options a person has in their movement vocabulary, the more options they’ll have in responding to life’s stressors and thus the more resilient they will be.” Pat Ogden, PhD

    This why my therapy focuses on centered horseback riding lessons, somatic therapy, and therapeutic listening sensory integration. How validating for those of us specializing in wellness therapies too. Thank you!

  26. Marianne Gernetzke says:

    I am a mental health occupational therapist. I explore movement in many ways through activities. Also I try to bring more awareness to the body through a variety of activities. For example if I see a pediatric client with RAD who is doing lots of pushing away and pulling closer with behaviors, I will engage them in sensory based play with tug of war, pushing games, etc. through these games I make the behaviors more observeable to the client and then explore what it might mean to change the behavior, for example holding on tight or letting go. In this way I work towards greater self awareness and flexibility.

  27. Lori Loranger says:

    Tai chi practice begins with a good “stance” and uses energies of push, receive, deflect, open and close…. having practiced tai chi for 25 years or so, it seems a natural thing to apply these principles in a physical and emotional/energetic way when working with others. Intent is so much a part of everything, and tai chi incorporates intent into the body. Thank you for promoting movement in your practice!

  28. Dan Eades says:

    The connection between body and emotion is not surprising to me. I am amazed that anyone who works with emotional problems could be surprised at such a connection.

  29. Anna Molgard says:

    As a yoga therapist, I see the impact life experiences, especially trauma have on the physical body. As I work with them to regain present moment connection to their bodies and release held patterns, their demeanors change and their resiliency increases. Thank you for highlighting this important facet of healing. As cognitive therapists and movement therapists learn to work together to more fully serve clients, we can all be better servants.

  30. Anne says:

    I have incorporated some movement exercises I gleaned from Pat’s earlier videos and I always found that they led to a positive response from the client…they have definitely broadened conversation and verbal expression and a new or newer sense of empowerment.

  31. Cheryl says:

    I have a client with DID and the first clue that her child is emerging is a distinct change in posture. While I have held and rocked her sobbing child, it didn’t occur to me to work with her posture (folds into self). I will be more mindful to attend to movements and posture with her child part who holds memories of terrifying abuse.

  32. Dr. Diana Cable says:


    Wonderful! I’m a 10 fingered Osteopath as well as a resiliency coach. I work with people in my physical practice by combining the body and the psyche to creat changes. And in my coaching I work with resiliency and burnout. I never thought of combining the two!! I use the body to tell me about people’s stories. And as the body unfolds we look at how the persons psycheband stories unfold. Thank you for this video.

  33. Maryka says:

    I am struggling in a relationship right now and the idea that I might be able to expand my options to bring about positive change awakened a bit of hope in me. The idea of a connection of feelings and outlook to body movement is interesting and new to me.

  34. Myrna bennett says:

    How does this work with children? I work with young children that have challenges with impulse control and emotion regulation. I believe they do not have the verbal or physical vocabulary to express what is going on for their selves. How can I help?

  35. I worked with a client with a variety of conditions, eg. allergies, sensitivities to environment, digestive issues. We worked with the language of her body and in accessing those she described herself as trapped and imobile. She was also an artist and a musician so I appealed to that part of her and asked how would she feel in her body if this aspect of herself was more fully realised. With her standing up we played with her moving from one posture to another until some of the blocked energies started to flow. Realising that she could feel differently with just a small change in her movements gave her a whole new way of seeing herself.

    • Lilac says:

      Movement has such a powerful effect on our emotions. Thank you for sharing.

  36. Sharon Voyda says:

    Thanks! Good concise information. I like these brief teaching moments.

  37. Abbie says:

    Excellent, as always Pat!
    I work with clients as a massage therapist. Regularly not only do the decreased pain and increased range of motion have positive impact on their movement. Thought patterns and beliefs that trigger the body begin to fade as better feeling thoughts also come more easily, readily, and frequently.

  38. JANE says:

    Several times with different clients, when I have observed nonverbal movements, I have asked for them to identify and then clarify what their body movement means. This has given further insight into the circumstance surrounding the experience that we are talking through. At times the body movement may be an indicator of the hidden emotion or denial, avoiding the pain. Thank you for these further insights from Pat Ogden.

  39. Marion Evans says:

    The first thing I did to free my self from an abusive marriage was to straighten up and smooth back my shoulders. It was a survival decision that came to me on my own. It was definitely helpful.

  40. great insight, having started out as RMT I am very aware of the connections and have incorporated it through all our client care.

  41. Bev Ross says:

    What an amazing insight into the deepest places in a wounded person. Using the hand that tentatively goes up while the survivor is telling how impossible it is to defend herself is so moving. The hope that is generated by taking that movement a step further is wonderful. I love this.

  42. Having trained in BodyMind Psychotherapy, the developmental movements she is talking about inform me with every client, every moment! I am always, even in online sessions, open to how someone might expand their movement repertoire and how that affects them.
    Thanks for sharing this. It is such important information.

  43. Teresa says:

    I suggest movement and posture in my work as a counsellor in the UK. Sometimes when the client feels stuck, asking them to take a posture to represent that part of them that is stuck helps them to move and gives a different perspective.

  44. R Longworth says:

    Thank you Ruth,
    Movement of the body is language that can release & heal things that haven’t had a voice.
    I am very interested in becoming more familiar with somatic resilience

  45. Janet E Graysen says:

    I liked her perspective. It was very similar to the work of Marion Rosen and to some extent the Alexander work.

  46. Lynette Elliott says:

    This is absolutely fascinating–not only the video, but all the comments. I’m not a counselor or therapy professional. I’m an actor who has been in therapy for many years trying to work through childhood traumas and my own insecurities. What I suddenly realized is that I give my characters the kinds of physicality everyone is mentioning…like giving a powerful female character a wide, upright stance with strong arms and a sure expression, or giving a quirky, unsure character a more protective posture and nervous gestures like foot shuffling or hand-wringing. It never, ever occurred to me to give myself these same postures and movements as a vocabulary to change my own human experiences. What a great idea! I’m going to look up the resources all of you have mentioned so I can learn more and get as good at being myself as I am being other characters. Thank you all for your input! This is GOOD STUFF!

    • JANE says:

      Yes, the posture of my clients’ shoulder can usually reveal a lot . Restriction, oppressed, close up all of this can describe a revealing past. I have seen teens who grow up being very uncomfortable about their body image. Mirroring technique and Ms. Pat O. suggestions are ideal to reach out to the most sensitive of them. I can see the how and why Ms. Pat O. mostly works with lots of young adults. I am very glad that you are sharing with us about how this can be applied in your dreamlike acting work.

    • Karen Alen says:

      As trauma is stored in the body, it is always the first place to start. Giving the client safety and tools to self-regulate effectively. It is incredible how we can carry a certain posture without even realising.

    • Janet E Graysen says:


  47. Mary Bean says:

    As a wellness coach, and not a licensed psychologist,who wants to work with children with special needs I can use this in the music fitness class I want to have to improve children’s self esteem using movements which improve self esteem.

  48. Janeil Smith says:

    I used to run art therapy groups in a room that had a labryinth outside and found the clients received a lot of insight while walking the labryinth.

  49. A says:

    She doesn’t say what to do in session to expand vocabulary.

    • Lilac says:

      I think she meant that you could say things like, “What if you tried doing that motion fully? Do you want to do that? What does that feel like? What if you tried this movement? How does that feel?” etc. That’s what I thought she meant. The comments also have some suggestions.

  50. Lynette Toms says:

    At Equine Time people learn the importance of their own body movement through the responsiveness of horses.

  51. Lynette Toms says:

    Through equine assisted therapy

  52. corito reyes says:

    Thank you for this realization! I see meaningful body movements but fail to let the client use this as a tool for recovery.

  53. Hannah Sherebrin says:

    It is always great to hear Pat Ogden. I had the privilege of spending 2 days with her, and have adopted many of her ways of looking at posture and movement. One of the ways I use sometimes is changing seats with clients and letting them feel how it is to sit in my seat. They often mimic my posture !

  54. R.L.P.W. EdM says:

    thiss was very good.
    I am an art teacher and very physically active, swimming, yoga-ish fitness, etc. I demonstrated throwing on a pottery wheel to a group of 8 year old campers. They applauded when I was done! t was so much fun! They are building their movement vocabulary and now I know why actors love the audience’s approval so much, besides keeping a job or furthering their careers.
    Using your brains and body to get ideas across to us is really nice of you.
    Thank you.

  55. Christina Newton says:

    I was trained in bioenergetics and this is right on the money as far as my practice goes. I love a “movement vocabulary” as a way to talk about it. We all get stuck in our movements and this translates into possibilities we can imagine. It is freeing to learn and practice new movements with breath and experience in our cognition as to how it shifts our choices in the future. ” it recites history” as Dr. Ogden states. I have used this work with my trauma clients specifically, and find it powerful.

  56. Annette says:

    I love this idea. Thanks for your wisdom.

  57. Janet Sternat says:

    The idea of options and movement control makes me think of the Feldenkrais Method. Is there a way to do a video interview with someone like Larry Goldfarb to share with this community?

    • I think that’s a great idea. Larry Goldfarb would be great, or Donna Ray who is also a licensed counselor.

  58. Dave Kent says:

    As an 80 year old individual who has experienced some difficult trauma but no therapy I found this presentation right on target with my own experience and therefore reinforcing. Thanks, Dave.

  59. Suradevi- healing - Pa. says:

    “I am God ” is great vocabulary since God has no problems. In Sanscrit it is hamsa meditation.

  60. Carmela Wenger says:

    I hav found it very helpful 2 use it. There r some clients who found safety in freezing and for them movement feels dangerous. I would b interested in what Pat Ogden would recommend 4 them

    • Lilac says:

      I’d be interested in this, too. When I feel frozen, I often let myself be like that for a little while, and then when I’m ready I try moving something very slightly. I might move my foot to the side very slowly or something. I will slowly move more and use bigger motions and eventually might clench my muscles or stand up and walk around.

  61. Donna Conwell says:

    Thank you Pat and Ruth,

    I was trained as a dance movement therapist at Hahnemann University in Philadelphia and recently completed a doctoral degree in Psychology. The dance movement training was some of the most powerful work I have ever experienced. You can visit the ADTA website which provides additional information and resources.

    If interested, look into the work of Dr. Marion Chase in Washington DC. She worked with Veterans from WWII using Dance and Movement to assist the Vets in expressing the inexpressible trauma they experienced. She was able to reach them although many could not speak nor respond to verbal therapy alone.

    Thank you for your contribution. “The ego is first and foremost, a body ego” S. Freud



    • Theresa says:

      Thanks for highlighting Dance Movement Therapy Donna – I too am a Dance Movement Therapist and recognise the important contribution DMT has made to working with a body in trauma.

  62. Thank you, as a PT and Feldenkrais practitioner, I find this essential and have many psychotherapists in my Feldenkrais classes to improve their movement awareness and vocabulary.

    • I’m a psychotherapist and Feldenkrais Practitioner, and I integrate the idea of movement vocabulary into my work with clients (some more explicitly than others). I would add a caution to anyone who wants to try exploring movement patterns with clients – first have some of your own experience and guidance with tuning into your own movement, whether that’s in a Feldenkrais class, or some other movement practice, or doing some personal work in a body-oriented psychotherapy model.

      It’s important to treat movement explorations as experiments, with an open mind about how the person might respond, because focusing on the body in this way can be very tender. Also, sometimes it’s helpful to go “with the pattern” before trying to expand options. For example, the person could exaggerate an existing yielding posture and feel what’s good/useful about it before going against it. Otherwise you run the risk of creating a kind of mask over the existing pattern without actually changing the pattern, or creating a story that the existing pattern is “bad” in some way.

    • Janet Sternat says:

      I would hope more psychotherapists would refer clients to Feldenkrais Practioners. The team work would likely speed up recovery of self and self control.

  63. Gillian Stevens says:

    I’m a music therapist and body movement is integral to the way people express themselves on instruments. In the active clinical improvisation which is the usual approach of U.K. Music therapists

  64. Pamela says:

    Thank you for both the video and everyone for their comments. My own personal experience is what I offer. I had an experience of sexual abuse as a two year old followed by a 10 day hospitalization. My mom had mentioned the hospitalization but I had no recollection of the abuse event and my parents didn’t know that it had happened. As a teen I felt my awkwardness as I watched other friends develop socially and sexually. I had the great benefit of taking a drama class in school. The warmup activity was to find our own space in a large room and close our eyes. The teacher put on some classical music and explored moving our bodies to the music. Eyes closed reduced self consciousness. That was the first experience I had of tuning into my body and helped begin my break though to healing. I later took another class in improvisatory dance- movement exploration that brought connection with others in. The second vital movement practice was tai chi. The teacher at some point began showing us the defensive functions of the moves which was also a real eye opener.

    • Lilac says:

      Thank you for sharing! What an uplifting story! I am sorry that that happened to you but very glad you have been able to find ways to explore your movements in safe ways. :)

  65. Theresa says:

    I have used Virginia Satir’s ‘sculpting’ in both my own personal work and in working with my clients. By engaging the body to explore feelings, much understanding can be evoked when there are yet no words. Then, with a guide, the words can be discovered…

  66. Karen Macke says:

    Sometimes I ask what a client is feeling in their body and what that part of the body needs in movement to be comfortable. I liked Pat Ogden’s ideas and will explore the above more with my trauma clients. Thank-you!

    Karen Macke MA, LPC-S

  67. Karina says:

    Thank you very much for sharing your practice and knowledgement.
    Helping clients to experience the relationship between body, mind and breath, recognizing what it is, exploring the opposites as complimentaries, feeling the differences before and after working with mindful movements. They are keys to opening a never ending dialogue that improves a healthy life.

  68. jay says:

    Time for a joke.
    I am a very fat and round person.
    And I apply this generosity of my gross body to literally PUSH people out
    of the side walk!
    Now, I have expanded their vocabulary!

    Enjoy your day.

    • Sherry Belman, MA, LMHC says:

      Now parents today (or so I read), say to their hurtfully-acting-out kids, “Use your words “. We are such resilient beings–“creatively adapting” in Gestalt lingo, with whatever we’ve got “to hand”(!). Adult perplexities arise when the available/safe/known/permitted lexicon was last updated around only what a young, impressionable child could muster in the face of life- or soul-threatening circumstance–then “safely” buried beneath awareness. There is hope! Best of luck!

      • Sherry Belman, MA, LMHC says:

        P.S. ha ha!

  69. Mary Jo Terrill, MSW, BSN says:

    Very good, Ruth. I studied and spent a little time
    with Alex Lowen many years ago. Much of what
    he taught made sense and has stayed with me.
    Here in Rwanda where I work I am literally
    surrounded by trauma survivors. I observe many
    things and give support and love where I can.
    It can be exhausting. But I pace myself. And most
    of my work is done in medical facilities so there
    are limits on my time and energy. I think the
    education that you offer here is extremely helpful
    for practicing therapists. It’s good of you to provide
    this outreach.

  70. Terry says:

    Inspirational. I will definitely more noticing of these movements with clients. I often see changes of colour in the skin during conversations-blushing/paler/change to a younger state that allows a glimpse of what might be going on for the person and also to help them to be in an ok state when the conversation ends.

  71. Dana Storey says:

    With 38 years experience as a yoga, fitness instructor and holistic health coach and a BA in Exercise Science, I recognize the connection between mind/body health. As an MA, NCC, & LPCC, I incorporate somatic feedback into solution-focused community mental health sessions.

    I see remarkable results with clients when they connect with the body in the fitness, or yoga or mental health environment; providing clients insight into monitoring and modifying habitual patterns can be life-changing and is certainly health-promoting.

    Trauma leaves a somatic imprint in the body and we have tools and skills to heal clients facilitate healing. Keep up the good work!

  72. Louise says:

    I offer equine assisted Counselling sessions where the clients explore movement in different ways with the horses. They learn the pushing movement in response to the horse moving too close to their boundaries. As the client explores their original pattern, what they have always done, and then explore other options with this large gentle animal, they are transformed! They suddenly have choice as well as awareness of existing patterns, that they can experiment with in the session and then take home to their life. To see them become more assertive, more choice full, more resilient, always warms my heart.

  73. Rene Broussard says:

    I see movement and body language expression as a form of a sort of mini role play, between the client’s perceived internal and external self. In session, I will note a movement instinctively incorporated by the client, which seems to be related to an internalized conflict, and in the way that I first understood from Somatic Experiencing (S.E.), ask the client to repeat the movement, “as-if.”

  74. Kirsten Welge says:

    Addendum: I absolutely concur with what Dr. Ogden describes, and my personal experience supports it. Now, I am doing my best to teach others who come into the dojo now about posture, openness of movement, and demonstrate the resiliency that is possible in life. When our minds are at ease and free to move, so too are our bodies free to move!

  75. Kirsten Welge says:

    I’m not a psychiatrist, but after talk therapy & CBT didn’t touch a lot of the depression and anxiety I felt, I happened to walk into an aikido dojo.

    Over the last 5 years, I found that the combination of movement on my own, movement with others attacking me (from holding the wrist, to grabbing the lapel, to strikes, punches, and grabbing my shoulders or wrists from behind), and meditation was incredibly potent in shifting my mind and bringing ingrained habits, patterns, and fears to the surface. Not only was I working through these issues, but I had a supportive community of friends who were also committed to self-development, listening, and being there for each other as we learned these arts and progressed in rank. Looking back, I think this saved my life. It has certainly opened many doors, and helped me envision and create a strong, happy, vibrant life that I am living into today.

    I’m also surprised therapists don’t suggest ki aikido and meditation to clients more often… no therapist ever suggested I try a martial art!

    • Lilac says:

      That’s great that you were able to find something that worked so well for you and a community to support you in it!

      I have had several therapists mention meditation to me, but martial arts haven’t been suggested to me, either! Maybe this should be emphasized more. I haven’t done martial arts myself, but I have a good friend who has done them a lot, and they have really helped her. I express my movements through dance, which I think fills the same function as a martial art, without the attacking part. I wonder if martial arts would help me or not.

      Anyway, thank you for sharing!

  76. There are many non verbal, moving behaviors. Is that a supra cultural phenomena? Is it a supra animal behavior -e.g. the same for a crow and a human?

  77. Thank you very much! Working with clients at the body level, picking up gestures, and then following these, at the organic level, promotes changes at the core level. These steps, therefore builds the person up with no return to previous patterns, because we are meant to be whole and the whole systems knows that.
    Body language can really be a door to core problems.

  78. Thank you. Lovely to hear Pat speak. As a certified Sensorimotor Psychotherapist, I have used this approach with clients. And it really works.

  79. Elaine Dolan says:

    Love this, Pat Ogden! Boundary-setting of BB Cohen can be expanded exponentially, I think just by
    getting people to step out of their habit set by COPYING others they admire…maybe one small movement
    at a time. But mirroring or matching a movement you like or admire provides more options, in and of itself.

    The challenge in any *treatment* is getting the new behavior to turn into a habit…not only something you practice for a session, or for a week….I wonder how you gracefully get your clients to try that *something* new without it being sort-of forced as homework.

    I’ve been watching (especially men, I’ve noticed) in free-form dance venues, appear unable or ashamed to copy-mirror-match, perhaps because they wish to appear in control, or independent…but thereby showcasing the LEAST flexible and MOST rigid routines. There seems to be very little appreciation of the ATTACHMENT phenomenon modelmatch. Perhaps they wish to appear perfect, or having mastered movements immediately- again, which is off-putting, discouraging and counter-productive. I wonder how you broach that discussion?

  80. Hans Samson says:

    In Somatic Experiencing as I learned strive to finish the unfinished movement as a tool asking what movement the body would like to make at this very moment. It helps to release the old trauma energy to leave the body as well as the realization to the cliënt that he/she can finish unsolved issues. As my original profession as a bodyworker(PT) I am convinced that movement.of the body also moves our neurophysiological system and change can be realised.

  81. Marcia Harms says:

    Always love to hear ideas from you and the comments below. Phrases that can linger in our vocabulary with clients help revitalize the work we do. I like the “unfinished gesture.” which is a common way I notice clients reactions to their Narrative. Also, lately have been noticing a foot scurrying or shuffling. Noticed when pointed out they seem delighted at the wonder of their own body response and you can almost see the little wounded child within realizing how they have allowed their movements to be stiffled.

  82. Kathleen M. Gill, Ph.D. says:

    As a psychologist and a student and teacher of taiji quan and qigong for over 30 years, I introduced veterans to those practices, and we are celebrating almost 15 years of this group with some of the original members and others who have joined since bringing it free to the community through our Center. As well as being a traditional procedure connected to Chinese medicine, it is now supported by research showing significant health and wellness effects, and it is the practice I do daily for my own well-being.

  83. Barbara David, EdS, LMSW says:

    An important item of movement learned from Dr. Ogden is the “unfinished gesture”. When teaching an emotional release class, I noticed a woman moving her arm and hand as if hitting a nail with a hammer…however, she moved it only part way down. When asked about it, what it wanted to do, she replied”It wants to beat or hit something!!” So that is what I had her do on a large pillow…..and she did for over 20 minutes and then felt relief., cried while someone held her for a few minutes and was amazingly clearer in body posture and energy.

  84. Sami Pajunen says:

    Thank you for sharing the wisdom, Pat and Ruth! I have taught my clients Movement Meditation, Reiki and Qigong. Depending on what suits their world-view the best. I like the phrase “movement vocabulary”. And i believe those subtle movements are the key for recovery also from severe traumas. So much to learn here!

  85. Thank you for an interesting video.I explain sometimes to patients that we can like enlarge movement or make IT slow or make the movement very big gradually .for ex a depressed lady sits very still and like “closed” we open gradually the arms stretch them outwards.She told me later on that the movement helped her to connect reach out for support/other people.It reminded her of something she had forgotten /to take place /It was so simpel but made a strong change.Thank you bringing up body language this way.//Mirja

  86. Victoria Mihich says:

    The Body does bare the burden as well as the HOPE when there is good co-regulation.
    I am an SEP and have used Peter’s work for years.
    There is NOTHING more satisfying to me than watching the tiny
    gestures of self-protection appear-slowing it down and helping someone
    to feel the completion of self protective responses. The hints of internal sense of
    safety and resilience get more apparent. That we, as therapists can be the guardians of overwhelm and
    allow ourselves to find the coherence amidst the disorganization is an honor!!

  87. Pat Kapphahn says:

    Yes, I have seen those strange links between posture, movement and behavior change. I particularly like the analogy of using the strength of the lion. This open stance was particularly helpful to a client who recently was to testify in a court before a jury. Thank you, Ruth, for continuing to share this important information with us.
    Pat Kapphahn, Atlanta.

  88. Yes, I have witnessed the same. In fact, there are movement activities included in my new book “Goodbye Hurt & Pain, 7 Simple Steps to Health, Love and Success.” The mind-body is so much more interwoven than we’ve ever imagined as Pat Ogden shows. Thank you Ruth for spreading the word.

    • Steven Hobbs says:

      Hi Deb,

      You write, “The mind-body is so much more interwoven than we’ve ever imagined,” I wonder who you are referring to as “we”. Perhaps “interstitched”, “infused”, or “commingled”. Just teasing. Problems may result from fragmented specialization of educational silos, while creative discovery and open inquiry is undersupplied. Where are our renaissance people?

      Thanks for the tip on your book.

  89. ROB TWO-HAWKS says:

    Beautiful! So sad that many of us in rural areas have no real access to much in the way of trauma & body therapies.I personally can speak for my own movement limitations(…upon many levels)while experiencing the Dark Night of the Soul here in almost invisible Appalachia.
    Thanks for this good work and I’ll continue learning all I can on my own meanwhile.

    • Julie Burns says:

      I am very rural too and this site has helped me and my husband so much. We both are healing from narcissist abuse from our families. When I first met my husband his body language was very stiff. Five years ago he went no contact with his family. He used Pete Walker’s PTSD workbook to help guide him. One day I noticed his body movements were no long stiff and rigid. In private he is also able to be very silly and has very fluid body movements.

      I went no contact with my family 15 months ago and sure understand about the dark night of the soul. My body posture can become collapsed at times. I have asked my husband to let me know when he observes me collapsing. Spartan life coach recommends walking around the house as if you are wearing a cape and stand tall with your shoulders back. Anyway, I wanted to let you know Rob, you are not alone…there are others traveling this journey with only the help of what we can find online and through books.

      • Dori says:

        Thank you Rob and Julie for what you’ve written. I too have been living the dark night of the soul. I live in a big city but was only able to find competent help from a therapist who lives in a different country. Thank goodness cor Skype!

  90. Larry Levin says:

    I have been working with a patient who has had serious loss over the last few years – one death after another in addition to other stressful situations. He also works as a medical technician which is also quite stressful. He had to take time off and claim disabilty because the job was triggering his personal issues. I noticed that he frequently lifted his arms up over his head and craddles the back of his head. I asked him to do that but in slow motion, paying attention to the mechanical movements of his arms and hands. As he did that he explained that he felt flashes of warmth running through his arms and flashes of lightening bolts through his fingers. He was letting out some of that trapped energy in his body.

  91. Jenny Bullen says:

    My daughter facilitates dance mandala and biodanza… great workj!

  92. Ruth M Burton says:

    I appreciate this video teaching as it puts words to what I have felt as a counselor. I have used the “I am a LION” and had fun with this as my clients show me their fierce assertive LION face, with the growl and big arms out wide. I think it has stuck with them and as Pat says, it has expanded their vocabulary and that capacity is now theirs. Thank you Ruth for sharing so much wisdom with us. Ruth Burton

  93. Ruth M Burton says:

    I appreciate this video teaching as it puts words to what I have felt as a counselor. I have used the “I am a LION” and had fun with this as my clients show me their fierce assertive LION face, with the growl and big arms out wide. I think it has stuck with them and as Pat says, it has expanded their vocabulary and that capacity is now theirs. Thank you Ruth for sharing so much wisdom with us. Ruth Burton

  94. K. says:

    Wonderful commentary by Pat Ogden. Thoroughly agree. Some of the best client work i did was with art therapists and dance therapists. A good friend in Barcelona does amazing work with kids – fully utilizing her background in theatre and clown school. I taught childrens’ dance classes for years when my kids were small … teaching them to shake out their sillies when they were upset … was a good influence for many; little bit of art and music appreciation to fuel the cart as well … life skills; we all need them. The ability to open & receive is our natural state of motion with a universe ‘teeming with life forms’ to quote Dr Amit Goswani …as is the ability to retract when needed, for protection Look at American Dance great Martha Graham, you will see it there.

  95. Dee says:

    I find this very interesting. I have been using yoga asanas, such as mountain pose & warrior pose. These poses have helped feel as though I was in control of myself, when situations were questionable. I have offered these poses to children in events where they had to leave their homes because of flooding, and indeed, the children felt more secure although nothing in the situation had changed.

  96. Sarah Gregory says:

    Thank you for sharing this. Body posture and the way it is used tell us so much without the need for words. I encourage clients to notice how they experience different postures and how changing posture can change that experience.

  97. Tamara says:

    Thanks for sharing this, it is so important to have the body on your side, to let go of blocks that keep us from naturally resisting to our help-mechanisms in the moment of threat. I have worked with clients who were stuck in a particular way of overcoming stressful moments and having them see how this being stuck was expressed within their bodies as well as in their emotions and in their cognition often helped the next step, to realize how it was keeping them from doing the right thing to help themselves. For me this is a vital step in my practice, to have people see, feel, perceive and give their posture a name, and to then little by little do small changes in order to loosen up and change their automatic reaction. A feedback mechanism which naturally helps the client how she can function in a different way from now on.

    A great contribution, thank you very much!

  98. Caro irving says:

    I would be interested to know exactly what she taught her client that made such a change.

  99. I am an Ontological Coach, rather than a therapist, and I regularly use posture, movement and breath work in my coaching. I recall a time when I requested coaching to improve my confidence in speaking to a group. My coach suggested I drop my chin about half an inch when I was speaking. My audience perceived me as more authoritative, my voice pitch dropped half an octave, I felt more “grounded” and my speech came more easily. Now anytime I am speaking to an individual or a group I am mindful of dropping my chin whenever I notice feeling anxious. When coaching, I find that quite subtle changes in posture and breathing seem to have a major impact on my clients’ mood and actions. CFor example clients can often shift from a mood of anxiety to one of curiosity by moving their shoulders to open their chest, softening their gaze and breathing more slowly.

    • Jenny Berry says:

      I am so interested in the connection between posture, movement ,body language and the way that we think and act. I did a course in physical theatre many years ago. What I found to be really interesting were some exercises in which we would walk in a certain way e.g leading with the chin or forehead for example and whilst walking in this way would talk … was amazing how the way that we walked changed the way that we talked and what we said.

      The other interesting thing was the release of emotion that occurred sometimes for some people when tension was released from a particular muscle as if all the emotional tension had been stored in that muscle.

  100. Jena Frederick says:

    I have aligned yoga postures, mudras, and pranayama with the schemes from schema therapy. For example hear openers for people with mistrust abuse. Or hip openers. For same schema. Also happy baby pose for people with emotional inhibition or negativity pessimism schema. Certain breathing techniques work well to clear out cobwebs of our past negative belief systems which essentially are schemas. So we can weaken the maladaptive belief systems.

  101. Sandy Burkart PhD, PT, GCFP says:

    As a physical therapist and Feldenkrais practitioner there is a strong interrelationship berween posture, balance, movement and behavior. Changing movement patterns associated with a given behavior is an effective way of chainging a behavior without ever using words. I have done this many many times in clinical practice.

Please Leave A Comment


Free Report on "What Resets Our Nervous System After Trauma" Click Here