The embodied word

Heidrun Panhofer, Helen Payne, Timothy Parke, Bonnie Meekums

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)


During the last decades a narrative outlook has become very popular in many disciplines, including psychotherapy whose central model is based on the exteriorisation of inner worlds through verbalisation. The following chapter assesses the narrative tradition from an embodiment perspective and explores the extent to which the embodied experience can and needs to be worded. Stemming from the discipline of Dance Movement Psychotherapy (DMP), a psychotherapeutic approach which makes use of embodied perceptual practices such as movement, play and dance, it draws on a recent study (Panhofer 2009) which shows some of the limitations of language. Supporting a psycho-corporeal integration, it emphasizes other possible ways of communicating the embodied experience, such as through metaphors, images, and poetry. Where it is difficult to communicate an inner experience through verbal narration, such as practiced in verbal psychotherapy, metaphors, images and poetry may offer a useful alternative, alongside the embodied perceptual practices such as play, movement, and dance.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBody Memory, Metaphor and Movement
EditorsSabine Koch, Thomas Fuchs
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
ISBN (Print)902721350X, 978-9027213501
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • embodiment,The BodyMind Approach, Authentic Movement


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