1st Edition

The Bodily Roots of Experience in Psychotherapy

By Ruella Frank Copyright 2023
    188 Pages
    by Routledge

    188 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book explores the significance of movement processes as they shape one’s experience through life. With an introductory foreword by Michael Vincent Miller, it provides a comprehensive, practical understanding of how we lose the wonder and curiosity we move with as children, and how we can reclaim that. 

    A new paradigm is presented in the making of experience through a radical and thorough investigation into the basics of animated life. The book utilizes a precise phenomenological language for those subverbal interactions that form the foundation of lived experience. The centrality of those interactions to the therapeutic encounter is set forth through richly detailed therapy vignettes. The building of experience is meticulously explored via the bridging of infant-parent dyads and the functional similarity of those dyads to the unfolding patient-therapist relationship. Readers learn to acknowledge routine inhibitions developed in early life, appreciate their former usefulness, and discover how to restore the lively flow of moving-feeling responses.

    This book is essential for all psychotherapists who wish to integrate the dynamics of movement into their work; educators who work with babies and young children; and all those wishing to understand better their psychophysical selves.

    1. Developing Presence  2. Kinesthetic Resonance  3. The Forming of Form  4. Moving into Memory  5. Diagnosing through Movement  6. The Bodily Origins of Developmental Trauma


    Ruella Frank brings many years of experience to her work as a gestalt psychotherapist: professional dancer/choreographer, yoga practitioner, student of various movement theories, and student of Laura Perls, co-founder of gestalt therapy. Founder and director of the Center for Somatic Studies, Dr. Frank is faculty at the New York Institute for Gestalt Therapy, Gestalt Associates for Psychotherapy, asjunct faculty at Gestalt Institute of Toronto. She teaches throughout the United States, Europe, Eurasia, Mexico, South America, and Canada. She has written articles and book chapters, authored Body of Awareness: A Somatic and Developmental Approach to Psychotherapy (2001, GestaltPress, available in four languages), co-authored The First Year and the Rest of Your Life: Movement, Development and Psychotherapeutic Change (2010, Routledge, available in three languages). Her video, Introduction to Developmental Somatic Psychotherapy, is available in three languages.




    Ruella Frank has given us a great gift. Keenly observed and richly considered, she connects us to the current of contact that underlies human experience. Her insights into the body’s role in both obstructing and facilitating entry into the present moment are invaluable.

    Mark Epstein is author of Thoughts without a Thinker and The Zen of Therapy: Uncovering a Hidden Kindness in Life

    Ruella Frank’s book explores a new paradigm for psychotherapy theory and practice explained with great simplicity and depth. It describes with experiential immediacy, and through sensitive case studies, the phenomenology of relational movements that build our being in the world and sets the ground for each unique therapeutic encounter. The Bodily Roots of Experience in Psychotherapy is an excellent tool for psychotherapists of all modalities, and for those who want to orient themselves in the relational use of the body for healing relationships.

    Margherita Spagnuolo Lobb is director Istituto di Gestalt HCC Italy and author of The Now for Next in Psychotherapy: Gestalt Therapy Recounted in Post-Modern Society

    Given her background and experience as a practising Gestalt psychotherapist, Ruella Frank’s detailed specifications and case studies of the psychophysical features of the "Six Fundamental Movements" that ground human interrelationships and human-world relationships are particularly edifying. Those psychophysical features document the integral relationship of movement and feelings, showing how that relationship is experientially evident from the very beginning, that is, in infancy and from infancy onward. 

    Maxine Sheets-Johnstone is author of The Primacy of Movement and Insides and Outsides: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Animate Nature