Allison Priestman

What is Embodied-Relational Therapy (ERT)?

Embodied-Relational Therapy (or ERT for short) Is an holistic integrative approach focusing on two facts about human beings: we are embodied and in relationship. To be alive we need a body, to be alive we need to relate to others - our greatest challenges and our greatest joys follow from these twin facts. As human beings, we are integrated bodymindspirit. On the whole, we find this condition hard to manage. Our nature seeks to express itself freely, while at the same time protecting itself in conditions sometimes of great difficulty. This double task of expression and protection makes us often subject to contradictory pulls, and offering double messages about what we feel, want and need. Through a relationship which is challenging but supportive and non-invasive, it is possible to disentangle our doubleness and allow our process to unfold.

ERT draws a great deal from other therapies, Particularly those from the body psychotherapy tradition, and brings these ideas and techniques into a new synthesis with its own unique flavour and values. We describe this in terms of seven metaskills: Awareness, Trust, Contactfulness, Spontaneity, Spaciousness, Relaxation and Wild Mind.

The history of ERT

Embodied-Relational Therapy (ERT) has its roots in Reichian body work, process approaches, psychodynamic therapies and earth centred spirituality. Initiated by Nick Totton and Em Edmondson in the late 1980s, ERT has continued to develop through the contributions of past and present ERT trainers; Nick Totton, Allison Priestman, Kamalamani (author of Meditating with Character), Stephen Tame and Jayne Johnson, and the wider community of ERT trainees and graduates. There is a thriving community of ERT practitioners throughout the UK, meeting once or twice a year for further training, mutual support, and a chance to share and deepen our under-standing and practice of ERT.

Core Values

ERT offers a profound trust that whatever is trying to happen in someone's life or in the wider world needs to happen. Whatever needs to happen is already trying to happen; and the ERT approach in training and practise cultivates a playful and spontaneous response to whatever that may be. We see symptoms not as problems to be solved but as valuable stimulus to change.

We aim to support connection and integration between estranged aspects of ourselves, and between ourselves and the wider world – the earth, the sky, the wider communities of human and other-than human (this aspect comes out most explicitly in the optional third year, Wild Therapy). We therefore see this work as necessarily having political and spiritual dimension. ERT values the wisdom and gifts of individual and group process, and of the unspoken and unnamed.

Embodied-Relational Therapy (ERT) has its roots in Reichian body work, process approaches, psychodynamic therapies and earth centred spirituality.

To Find out more about Nick Tottons work.

For a list of Embodied-Relational Therapists