Distressed Couples: Improving Mutual Empathy and Emotional Regulation Using Embodied Empathy Mechanisms

  • Christina LohrEmail author
  • Tania Pietrzak


The embodiment of the mind constitutes a basis of social interaction and communication, as became evident in research on nonverbal synchrony, social contagion and mimicry (see Chap.  5). Thus, embodiment has a wide range of implications for psychotherapy. In this context, embodiment not only has relevance for the typical psychotherapeutic dyad, but also can be applied successfully to more complex systems. In this chapter we therefore wish to discuss the importance of embodiment for psychotherapeutic interaction with several people. All strategies presented in Part II of this book are applied in a comprehensibly modified way.Not only clients in individual therapy benefit from working with embodiment techniques - distressed couples can also benefit. In the case of conflicts, partners often misinterpret their own emotions and the emotions of the other. Couples looking for support already had the experience that conversations between them are not very successful either because they are not possible or because they escalate quickly without finding an appropriate solution. The use of body information can point the way out of a dead end at this point. Furthermore, there is a need to demonstrate both the efficacy and effectiveness of newly emerging dynamic models of marital therapy that take into account the role of the body. The approach described below tries to fill this gap. A first study (Pietrzak, Hauke, & Lohr, 2016) with this approach in a group setting showed promising results. In the following sections, we shortly outline the most important theoretical basics of this promising way of working with couples as well as an overview of the working method. A detailed case study gives insights into the concrete work with couples and explains the most important interventions.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Embodiment Resources Academy (ERA) EuropaMunichGermany
  2. 2.Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre, School of Psychology and Public HealthLa Trobe UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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