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Health Matters

Psychomotricity in Mental Health

Mariana Silva (Psychomotor therapist) . 25/01/2017

The body is the reflection of all transformations a person goes through in contact with various situations in life. Through body mediation, psychomotricity enables the study, observation and evaluation of movement, posture and expression, since the body in motion expresses the person’s personality and reveals feelings and emotions.

This field of intervention uses the body as an instrument to expose the cause of the problem diagnosed and aims to (re)discover feelings of pleasure and wellbeing through the perception and reconstruction of the body image (how a person sees and feels their body).

What are the areas of intervention and the target population?

In the field of mental health, psychomotricity has a preventive as well as therapeutic nature, targeting the following psychopathological disorders: (i) anxiety disorders; (ii) mood disorders (iii) eating disorders; (iv) somatoform disorders (hypochondria, somatisation); (v) psychotic disorders; (vi) disorders of body schema; (vii) specific psychomotor disturbances (viiii) dementia.

What are the objectives?

(i) Body awareness as a means of expression and communication;

(ii) Giving precedence to relationships with others within a bodily and spatial space;

(iii) Rebuilding and organising perceptions and actions, in time and space, adapted to reality;

(vi) Providing bodily experiences, focusing on an awareness of movement and breathing;

(v) Improving self-esteem through a positive body image experience, stimulating balance, coordination, motor planning, relaxation skills and controlled breathing;

(vi) Reducing levels of anxiety and bodily symptoms associated with the disorder, enabling emotions to be structured and managed.

What are the methods and techniques used?

This intervention is based on the stimulation of seven psychomotor factors: tonicity, balance, laterality, body awareness, spatio-temporal structuring, general praxis and fine motor praxis. These are influenced using specific methods and techniques:

(i) Therapeutic relaxation and body awareness techniques – enable patients to control their own gestures, postures and emotions, eliminating muscle tensions, building and organising the body image and body schema;

(ii) Techniques for gesture and postural education, as well as gnosis and praxis re-education – involves a relationship between cognitive skills (like perception, representation, anticipation and planning) and praxis quality (motor actions), regulating tonic states while also working on coordination and posture;

(iii) Bodily expression and exteriorisation techniques – using different mediators that help exteriorise feelings and reflect on these, in order to express the person’s inner state and creativity.

Within the vast multidisciplinary team at Casa de Saúde de Carnaxide, Psychomotor therapy offers the possibility to intervene in the development of the ability to feel and think about one’s body. Emotional meaning is given to a physical symptom by acting on its causes.

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