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Psychomotor Therapy
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Presentation of the French Association of Psychomotor Therapy (February 2018)

(Translation : Audrey Athlan Lienard)


May 6, 2017 was founded the French Association of Psychomotor Therapy. Non-profit, its purpose is to foster, disseminate and organize actions likely to offer reflection, promote, train and transmit psychomotor therapy and valorize:

Public or private interventions at conferences on topics related to body approach, to the different existing therapies, as well as corporeal, artistic or cultural mediations.

Organization, realization, production and the diffusion, also on behalf of a third party, writings, events, exhibitions, short and feature movies and workshops related to the initiatives and values of the association.

Promotion and setting up courses (theoretical and practical) in the context of professional training and the analysis of professional practices, as well as seminars, exhibitions, evenings ...

Membership is open to state-certified psychomotor specialists exclusively and is subject to sponsorship by one of its members with validation by the Board of Directors.


The AFTP is chaired by Eric Pireyre. Lydie Roussel is the vice-president, Lola Fiatte the secretary and Agnès Bousquet the treasurer.

You can start the registration process by email at: (specify your year of certification). The annual membership has been set at 20 euros.

The first decisions concerned the organization:

- A cycle of three conferences whose theme is psychomotor therapy (dates to be fixed)

- A practical workshop on percussion and rhythm

- From a seminar on psychomotor therapy (Autumn 2019). This event will be located in Paris and will give voice exclusively to psychomotor therapists exercising psychomotor therapy. An important place will be given to the video.

These activities were thought and conceptualized together. The members of the association can also propose other activities.

Psychomotor therapy belongs to psychomotor therapists. It's up to them to develop it. We think this association as an area of freedom. Freedom to think, to create, to experience and to live psychomotricity in different ways.

Psychomotor Therapy definition

Author : Eric Pireyre


Translated by Amélie JAYET

Psychomotor therapy definition


Eric Pireyre gives these definitions about specificities of therapy approach in psychomotricity. In France therapy is different from reeducation. We thank Eric Pireyre who will publish it soon.

In France it is often said that psychomotricity is a young profession. Even though it is the most recent health-reeducation diploma[1] to be recognized, it is not a new field.

The first Psychomotrician schools (Instituts) (the « IFP » : Instituts de Formation en Psychomotricité) were created at the end of the 1960’s and a state diploma in 1974. The psychomotrician competencies decree dates from 1988 and the « medical auxiliary » status (= « auxiliaire de la médecine » a french health administration status which may be compared to « therapy and rehabilitaion status ») from 1994. The first official educational program was instituted in 1974, the second program in 1998 and a third (la « réingénierie ») is being reviewed and awaiting approval by the government.

A comparison of these three programs shows how this profession has acquired its therapeutic competencies (skills).


Observation of the links (sometimes pathological) between the body and the mind necessitated a specific approach.  That and the response to the dual problems, multiplicity of the origins of these links and the need for more indepth scientific research, considerably advanced the development[2] of psychomotricity. Psychomotricians work with a large range of patients and pathologies. It is often said that the pioneers of the profession trail blaze, patiently and efficiently, « advanced practices ». This profession, having proven its usefulness, has a radiant future


However, there is not just ONE type of psychomotricity (one way to practice). Many psychomotricians practice in their own manner and according to who they are as an individual. They engage themselves physically in their patient’s psychomotor therapy and are able to transcribe their methods of treatment in numerous publications. Each psychomotrician acknowledges her/himself as a « psychomotor therapist »(as it is defined here) or/and as a psychomotor reeducator (rehabiliation specialist).


What is psychomotor therapy[3]?    

When the body expresses itself, archaic caracteristics often appear. Psychomotricians have learned, during their studies, to observe and take this phenomenon into consideration. In reality, the way in which one psychomotrician practices his/her profession may lead him/her to either take these archaïc caracteristics into account or to ignore them. If the professionnal decides to consider this phenomenon, adapts his practice to his patient and the patient accepts it, the psychomotor therapy will have a « psychotherapeutic » function. But in what way[4]? That is the question that remains.

As many psychomotrician practitioners often have difficulty acknowledging their therapeutic role or are wait for the « unction » of other medical professionnals (medical doctors or psychologists), this question is crucial for the psychomotrician. If the psychomotrician’s individual competence must be « crowned » by unction ; today, the therapeutic value of psychomotricity should no longer be doubted.

By taking into consideration the originel archaic mechanisms, psychomotor therapy greatly influences the patient’s psychic functioning. Profound changes, but also superficial ones, may occur. We may « modulate », but without changing the essence, with the notion of superficial and profound changes:

« the opposition between psychotherapy and therapy[5], or between superficial and profound change, is just an artifact which will persist if we (therapists and psychotherapists) continue to affiliate ourselves strictly to one type of school or another, creating a compartmentalized psychotherapieutic[6] domain. In reality, superficial and profound changes are not mutually exclusive and may alternate depending on the phases a patient is going through. Theoretically we cannot assert that one type of intervention will lead to a more or less profound change compared to another type of intervention : what a therapist can do, whichever school he is affiliated with, is to put the client (patient) in the right condition to trigger his own (psychic) reorganization. What a therapist can’t do is control and determine when, how and with what consequences the change will occur.» (Chambon 2010)

In giving the patient the opportunity to confront himself/herself, more or less consciously and at his/her own rhythm, to the profound archaïc phenomena, the psychomotor therapist is not assured of provoking profound changes.

The changes may be superficial. Only the ulterior evolution of the patient will determine this. The psychomotrician can only be sure that there will be changes if the therapeutic process is well undertaken. Isn’t change, profound or superficial, what the patient is seeking? (reducing sufferance, anxiety, improper behaviour, etc.).

Since we must refer to « conceptualized psychotherapy » - in order to be well anchored for what follows-  lets look at the definitions Chambon passed on :

« Psychotherapy is always an encounter between two or more individuals, in which one of the individual defines himself, or is defined, as in need of help and demands a cure or a change ; whereas the other individual have the qualities or are recognized as having determined personal qualities and a body of technical and theoretical knowledge that he/she can use to help the other individual undergo a change » (Giusti, 1995).

« Psychotherapy is a conscious and planned interactional process, the goal of which is to influence behavioural disorders and suffering states. According to a consensus (of patients, therapists and a reference group), these mental pathologies require specific treatment using psychological methods (communication), most often verbal, but also non-verbal, towards a determined goal, developed jointly (in common) when possible (minimization symptoms and/or structural personality change), using techniques, based on the theory of normal and pathological behavior, which may be taught.  In general, this requires a solid emotional relationship.» (Strotzka, 1978)

These two definitions are quite general but considering that the goal of psychomotor therapy is to relieve patient sufferance using verbal and non-verbal (= the tonic emotional dialogue) means, with techniques (‘mediations’), taught or learned, based on academic courses of normal and pathological behaviour, this allows the psychomotricity profession to be included without difficulty in the field of psychotherapy. Moreover, the psychomotrician’s practical experience during their studies enables him/her to discover their own personal style of emotional regulation,


Returning to Chambon :

« All psychotherapies act on one of the five following[7] domains : social and interpersonal context, cognitions (images, representations, fantasies, thoughts, beliefs), affects (and emotion), behavior and sensations. Even though most psychotherapies explain their efficiency according to their preference for acting on one of these aspects, each of them is in a dynamic interaction with each other : When any type of psychotherapy acts on one of these factors, it is actually acting on all of them.»

This notion of interaction of the five aspects proposed by Chambon is fundamentally at work in the psychomotrician’s practice when the psychomotrician uses the therapeutic technique of being in consciousness of your body (Pireyre, 2015). Let’s go even further with Chambon and read the description he makes of « psychic-body (psychocorporal) orientated psychotherapies» (which he also calls « psychotherapies of psychocorporal unity »[8] :

- The human organism is an integrated psychic-body (psychocorporal) reality

- Every psychic event manifests itself at a physical level through muscular and somatic tensions which are a defense against anxiety and emotions which could emerge in an uncontrollable fashion.

- Muscular tensions are signals of repressed emotions and the way in which they are blocked.

- Cerebral excitability and vagrancy (mental wandering) create a split between the body and the psyche.  It provokes a separation in regards to his life experience and physical needs.

- The professional must help the patient to be aware of their body, to liberate emotions that were repressed during childhood.

- Relief of physical tension, emotional expression and insight are the three factors which determine change.

- Techniques used: mobilization of all parts of the body, massage, breathing, movement, vocalization, ‘root’ pose, relaxation, visualization, meditation.

- The therapist continually orients the patient ; he/she observes the patient’s reluctance to relax, stimulates attention and awareness, gives instructions or advice.

- Indications : patients who have difficulty expressing their emotions, are blocked by anxiety, who have lost contact with their own body, patients without serious psychic disorder, anxiety or neurosis due to existential issues.

- However, body engagement may facilitate contact with certain types of individuals suffering from psychosis. »

Even if Chambon doesn’t explicitly mention psychomotricity and doesn’t use the same vocabulary, some psychomotricians may feel that his writings describes their practice. Therefore, it is time to attest that psychomotricity, if the psychomotrician takes responsibility of his/her worth and is given the means (supervisions, professional practice analysis, new mediation training…), is a psychotherapeutic technique. Now it is time to describe the profession more precisely.


Psychomotor therapy definition

            Psychomotor therapy is practiced in institutions or in private practice (self-employed office) within an interpersonal relationship between a psychomotrician, with a state diploma, and one person or more – child or adult – who is suffering and has (have) asked for help which includes authentic insertion in a project for personal change.

            A psychomotrician takes into account his/her patient’s social context and subjectivity, and relies on his/her academic and personal education as well as on one or several theories to guide his/her interventions. He/her uses body and verbal techniques (mediations) in order to stimulate more or less profound change in the way the patient functions and in the specific following domains:

- Representations : images, ideas, memories and beliefs

- Emotions

- Sensations

Physical engagement is what characterizes the psychomotrician’s practice. Always offered to and undertaken by the patient, the physical engagement often includes the psychomotrician.

Psychomotor therapy is most often indicated for the treatment of body representation disorders with psychic origins but also for those of physical origins.  It aims at modifying the unconscious body image.

The patient is lead to awareness of what is happening to his/her inner self in the here and now as well as in the context of the therapeutic relationship. Therefore, the approach is subjectifying.


The psychomotrician’s principle therapeutic competencies (skills) are the following:

- To master his/her emotions and the different channels of tonic-emotional dialogue (in the expression of his/her own body and by reading the expressions of his/her patient’s body)

- Have sufficient confidence in him/herself

- To essentially be non directive

- To formulate « realistic » therapeutic goals

- Devise a clear therapeutic framework which is stable, adaptable and easily tolerated (at least in the beginning).

-To establish a good therapeutic relationship.

- to engage corporally

- to be modest and positive and know how to respect the patient’s own rhythm

- to feel and show empathy to their patient, verbally and corporally

- To invite, to encourage their patient to express him/herself verbally and/or corporally, ask open questions and respect his/her moments of silence.

- To resist thoughts and emotions which may be difficult for the patient him/herself

- To support and transform the patient’s difficult life experiences into a constructive and comprehensive exchange: this a competency of elaboration.

- To use verbalization and interpretation as often as necessary.

- To observe the patient, and to also observe him/herself as both a clinician and a person, and to be able to see within him/herself.


The goals of psychomotor therapy may be :

- A more harmonious relationship of the patient with his/her body

- Growth of self-esteem

- The adoption of new behavioral patterns

- Modification of emotional regulation

The body image and it’s disorders, thus the archaic phenomena, have been part of the psychomotor practice since the 1994 competencies decree. It is a field which is an obvious fit for the domain of psychomotor therapy. 



Chambon, O. (2010). Les bases de la psychothérapie. Paris : Dunod.

Pireyre, E. W. (2015). Clinique de l’image du corps. Paris : Dunod.




[1]Which is recognised and validated by a state certified diploma.

[2] It will adapt, without any doubt, to current theoretical upheavals.

[3] This Chapter will be largely backed up by Chambon (2010) among others.

[4] Even though in France the « psychotherapist » term is defined by specific laws since 2010, and it isn’t possible for a psychomotrician – on a daily clinical level- to legally define her/himself as a psychotherapist, It isn’t forbidden to claim this designation in theoretical work level in the hope that the law may one day be changed.  In the meantime, many psychomotricians declare themselves as a « therapist » or a « psychomotor therapist » or a « corporal mediation therapist» (définition of « mediation » :

[5] Notice that this capital assertion by Chambon clarifies note 7 8 differently

[6] The claim that the psychomotor practice has a psychotherapeutic role necessitates a study of the basic nature of psychotherapy. Hence the references to Chambon.

[7] Author’s note.

[8] He doesn’t make any reference to psychomotricity.

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