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What is massage therapy?

“Rather than trying to cure an illness, the aim of a biodynamic massage therapist is to understand with the client the meaning and message of an illness, and in this process symptom relief may come about through creating a new balance within oneself and life generally.” ABMT

Biodynamic massage is a transformational massage. It treats the body and mind as a whole, and as such it is called “holistic”.

Most of my work is with clients who are looking for transformation and spiritual development. As Joyce Meyer says: “when you have a mess in your soul, it will end up coming out in some way and affect you mentally, emotionally, and in your relationships.”

There are a wide variety of massage techniques available (see below). Biodynamic massage sessions last for one hour and I tailor each session to the unique needs of my client. The system is at its most effective over time, as the work has a cumulative effect, and clients are advised to book for six to eight sessions initially.


The biodynamic system was developed by Gerda Boyesen (1922-2005). Gerda devoted her life to its research and development. Her children have also followed her in this devotion, and are themselves researchers and practitioners of the biodynamic method. Inspiration for the approach had its origins in the work of Wilhelm Reich and in the working practices of the Norwegian physiotherapy departments of the 1960s, in particular the inspired work of Lillemor Johnson.


The general aim of the massage session is to provide the client with a space where their needs can be met in a flexible way. It is for this purpose that the pace, pressure, and type of massage are adapted. We use a stethoscope on the belly to monitor the response of the body, and this, coupled with the client’s verbal feedback, helps the therapist assess the client’s needs.

Massages vary in depth – they can connect at skin, connective tissue, muscle and even bone level. The massage can be stimulating and energising, or slow paced and rhythmical.

The massage can be full body, neck, head and face, or can focus on a particular part of the body. A hands and feet, back, or stomach massage is possible. The client can be massaged clothed or unclothed, i.e. we can work through fabric or directly onto skin. The massage makes limited or no use of oils.

Massages such as Deep draining work deeply into tense, aching muscles. Energy distribution and Packing, in their different ways, help the client with issues such as overstimulation or nervous energy, and it can have a cleansing effect. Techniques such as Lifting and Stretching work to loosen and stretch tense muscles, and help release tension around the joints. Emptying, particularly nice for hands, feet, and head, can relieve localised pressure build-ups in the body.

Confidence and Confidentiality

Your first session will start with some information gathering, so that I can learn about your particular circumstances, issues, and needs. Throughout your treatment, I will encourage you to communicate any feedback and responses that may come up for you during the massage. This helps me get a deeper understanding of your needs and aids the biodynamic process. I will endeavour to tune into your needs, and respond appropriately. Reciprocity between client and therapist is at the heart of this system. As a therapist, I will treat everything you tell me, in the initial interview and throughout the treatment, with strict confidence.


Notes on techniques

Deep Draining – Used to release muscular tension, the aim is create a space where it is safe to release muscular tension, and to soften what can be thought of as the body’s “armouring”. Alternatively, where “hypotonic” – or under toned – muscle is found, we can enliven the muscle by holding and stretching it.

Energy Distribution – This massage re-distributes the body’s “energy” throughout the body, drawing it out from the depths, and down the body.

Packing – Packing uses slow paced pressure of touch along the body. It can give a strong sense of containment, as well as highlighting the boundary of where the physical body begins and ends.

Lifting and stretching – Used to move and stretch the tendons of muscles where they insert into joints, to release and encourage the discharge of remnants of the startle reflex and to help the client “expand”.

Emptying – This massage can relieve localised pressure build-ups in the body, where there is stagnant fluid or energy in the tissue.

Startle reflex – The body’s response to a shock. Mona-Lisa Boyesen describes how the startle reflex can become chronic: “After [a] shock reaction (the event passes and one is on neutral ground), the body should reassert the normal balance between flexors and extensors, and obtain a functional harmony between muscular response and respiratory rhythm. This only happens provided that the emotional expression takes place and serves as an outlet for the antagonistic action and adequate respiration. If, however, this release is prohibited, there will be an interruption in the biological rhythm; the organism will develop minimal startle-reflex patterns with concomitant muscular tensions, respiratory inhibition, and postural deformation.

“…we get the following formula for an organic equilibrium:
Stimuli — tension — charge — expression — recuperation — rehabilitation.”
Mona-Lisa Boyesen, “The Startle-Reflex Pattern & Organic Equilibrium” in “Energy & Character”, Vol.9 No. 2 1978

More information can be found here:

This is a great introductory video from Lindsey Nicholas, Biodynamic Massage Therapist, and Chair of ABMT. Lindsey is based in Ipswich - UK

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