Michael Coster Heller
Psychotherapist, Lausanne
Flesh of the Soul
The body we work with
Bern: Peter Lang, 2001
Body Psychotherapy:
history, concepts & methods
New York: W.W. Norton, 2012
Psychothérapies corporelles
Fondements et pratiques
Louvain: DeBoeck, 2008
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 My approach

I received my basic training in psychotherapy from Biodynamic Psychology, during the 1970s. This method is a synthesis proposed during the 1960s in London by the Norwegian psychologist Gerda Boyesen. I also specialized in Psycho-Organic Analysis with Paul Boyesen. This method was initially an elaboration based on Biodynamic Psychology, proposed by Paul Boyesen, who was trained in psychotherapy by Gerda Boyesen. With the collaboration of Paul Boyesen’s colleagues, this school has today constructed its own approach. In the past 30 years, I have gradually developed my own synthesis, incorporating as much as possible the continuous flow of discoveries that have been produced by clinical and experimental psychology, and by psychotherapy, during the second half of the 20th century, and continuing into the 21st. This synthesis is based on numerous discussions with colleagues, and on what my patients have taught me.

My practice remains centered on individual processes, and the notion that a person is an organism that is the synthesis of the many dimensions that constitute what she or he is (physical, biological, psychological, anthropological and sociological). This is the current attitude of therapies that are – falsely – labeled as body-psychotherapies. The reason I state that this label is not relevant is because since Wilhelm Reich, these approaches have always considered a human being as a socialized totality, for which bodily phenomena are only one of the relevant dimensions. I prefer to simply label my work as a method of psychotherapy, with no particular qualification. I usually focus on the following points:

  • A personal history of a client, situated in a family and cultural context. This dimension of my work is mostly influenced by the work of Gregory Bateson and Pierre Bourdieu.
  • The capacities of a person for self-regulation, which always requires some cognitive and experiential insights on what is happening in the organism that one is. I accomplish this mainly through analysis, dream work, exploration of one’s breathing, and massage.
  • The maturation process a person is involved in as a citizen, and the efficiency of communicative propensities. To work on this dimension, I base my method mainly through an experiencing of transferential dynamics and on an analysis of nonverbal communicative behavior based on Wilhelm Reich’s work on character analysis, George Downing’s video analysis, and my own studies on nonverbal communication. 

My theoretical preoccupations focus on the aqualide theme. Aqualide is a word I have invented to designate a poorly developed dimension, which is how information passes from one modality to another: from nerves to muscles, from physiology to consciousness, from individual consciousness to shared consciousness, etc. This theme imposed itself upon me, as I repeatedly noticed how difficult such “translations” can be, and how often one can help people by focusing on this issue. I am not suggesting that aqualidology can explain all the problems, but that it designates a series of issues that are implicitly always present. My theoretical stance is that all psychological and relational mechanisms are essentially nonconscious, which means that they are of a complexity that cannot be grasped consciously. However, the interaction between nonconscious and conscious dynamics is often crucial to establishing relevant skills. As shown by Freud more than a century ago, when this coordination is synergic for the well being of an individual, one inevitably observes deep psychological and communicative disturbances. Helping the patient to improve this basic coordination is one of the aims of aqualidology.

Sessions last 50 minutes. I see patients once or twice a week for at least three months, and renegotiate the psychotherapy contract at the end of every term.

More detailed information can be found in other sections of this site, which will take quite some time to be constructed.


Rue du Maupas, 2003