Gerda Boyesen
Gerda Boyesen
Gerda Boyesen (1922 - 2005) w
as a pioneering Norwegian psychotherapist and founder of Biodynamic Psychology.

Gerda has had an important influence on the, now well-established, ‘body psychotherapy’ movement across Europe. Her work is still relatively unknown in the United Kingdom as very little of it has been published here.

She worked throughout her life, almost to her last breath, working with students and supervising practicing psychotherapists. Gerda celebrated the feminine in her work. She reflected her inner self in her outward appearance; a deliciously flamboyant dresser with a gentle and accepting presence.

Her main contribution to Body Psychotherapy has been her discovery of the “psycho-peristalsis”, the body’s ability to digest stress in the intestines, whether superficial or chronic, physical or emotional. The more her patients were able to digest painful experiences, the more they would feel a sense of wellbeing. This discovery made her work subtler than classical Reichian psychotherapy and applicable to a wider range of clients.

It is not until recently that advances in technology have enabled neuroscientists, such as Damasio and Schore, to make physical links between the brain and emotions. There is now a real possibility that, in future, science can map in the brain the neurological activity related to psycho-peristalsis.

Gerda, born into a traditional family in Norway wanted a more independent way of life for herself and her young children. Gerda started her career by studying for a psychology degree in 1947. She studied psychoanalysis with Ola Raknes who had trained with Wilhelm Reich, during his years in exile in Norway (1934-1939).

Following working as a clinical psychologist in psychiatric hospitals, she trained as a physiotherapist to deepen her understanding of the body. Later, she studied a neuro-muscular massage developed by Aadel Bulow Hansen. In the Bulow Hansen Clinic she discovered that it was possible to influence a person’s unconscious mind and emotions through massage. This led to Gerda’s discovery of ‘psycho-peristalsis’, making the important link between the processes of psychological change and the gut.

Gerda Boyesen came to London in 1968 as one of the first Reichian body psychotherapists. In the early 70’s, she began teaching-methods she had devised herself, drawing on other contemporary psychotherapy theories as well as her own experience. She opened the Gerda Boyesen Centre in West London where people came from all over the world to train with her. She inspired her own children ( Ebba, Paul and Mona Lisa Boyesen) who are all eminent practicing psychotherapists and trainers.

London remained her base, but she also worked extensively abroad. She was fluent in and was able to teach in several languages. There are now biodynamic psychotherapy training schools in many countries around the world.

She presented at several international conferences exploring the cutting edge of body psychotherapy.  Gerda was registered with the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy. In 1999 she was made a Honorary Member of EABP (the European Association for Body Psychotherapy).

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