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Psychotherapists Probe Mind-Body Relationship, Threaten Yoga Therapy ‘Career’?

in YD News, Yoga and Healthcare, Yoga Therapy

yoga_therapy_timeThanks to YogaBear for alerting us to this…

We’ve been yapping lately about Yoga going mainstream, mostly in pop culture. Now we’re talking health…making us insane in the membrane. Read on…

First the good news:

TIME magazine published an article yesterday highlighting the burgeoning field of Yoga Therapy –  the frontier of psychotherapy+yoga combo.

Admittedly, press attention in the big rags always gets us yogadorks excited about the prospective acceptance of yoga in traditional Western practices. It’s like the day our big sis finally let us hang out with her, and stopped insisting we were found on the doorstep as a baby. (that was a good few hours). Anyway, it’s a big deal! To have such major news outlets chattering about yoga (in a good way), is very positive, gratifying news. The TIME article goes on to describe how psychotherapists and mental-health professionals are taking a serious look at the benefits of incorporating yoga into sessions, allowing patients to really dig deep.

“Emotional memories are stored in your body,” Visceglia says. “A group yoga class, is not structured to enable you to process that. Ideally one would want to work with someone who is paying attention to both the physical and emotional experiences.”

Studies show that not only are your mental health and mood dependent in large part on physical factors like exercise, but also unchecked stress, anxiety and depression can affect physical health, increasing blood pressure, heart disease and even risk of death.

[Dr. Elizabeth Visceglia, is a psychiatrist and yoga therapist based in New York City]

Good stuff.  It makes total sense to us. Now, naturally, we’re going to tell you why this could suck, particularly for yoga therapists aiming for career level occupation. OK, maybe not entirely suck, we don’t expect extinction, but we’ve mentioned this before:

As health professionals like psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, etc. adopt yoga methods, where does that leave the straight up yoga teacher?

Especially in skimp budget days like these, yoga being widely accepted is exactly what could spell the demise for a yoga therapist hoping to swing it full time. As in, maybe it’s time for us to go back to school to learn a trade that’ll pay the bills?

Oh there are yoga therapy schools – an estimate of about 50 in the US – a growing International Association of Yoga Therapists, even the International Journal of Yoga Therapy. But as the article also points out, “currently, there are no official licenses or standards of practice for yoga therapy.”

It’s odd to us that the question of doubt lies in whether or not these mental-health professionals are capable of teaching yoga , when it sounds like soon it could swing the other way. The yoga career is a tough path already, we just think it’s going to take a lot more oomph to get that crane off the ground now.

Are we just being bums? What do you think?

Psychotherapy Goes from Couch to the Yoga Mat [TIME]

7 comments… add one
  • Well… I agree with both of your points…. except.
    Relaxation techniques have been used by Health Professionals for decades now (think Feldenkreis). Speech-Language Pathologists are trained to use relaxation and meditation techniques with their adult clients, and this has not taken away from yoga instructors.

    I highly doubt that Physicians, psychologists or Paediatricians are going to begin giving yoga classes in their offices. More likely they will incorporate some meditative techniques, and hire a yoga instructor for their clinic.

  • admin

    EcoYogini: You’re probably right. Perhaps it’s wishful pie in the sky to think that the docs will bring full on yoga. But…at the same time if patients are receiving what they need why go to another yoga therapist? Someone who is not officially “certified” in the medical field so to speak. Just sayin. The whole thing is open to much wider discussion on the topic of legitimacy and a yoga profession.
    Thanks for continuing the conversation… it helps tremendously to have other perspectives chime in!

  • You might be surprised to find out how well integrated yoga has been added into mainstream healthcare. Many hospitals offer and encourage yoga classes for their chronic patients. I am also starting to see continuing education credits for healthcare providers that link yoga and well-being together.

  • The yoga and psychology combination is powerful. I started studying yoga while I was in high school– therapy came much later, and I am a licensed psychoanalyst and RYT yoga teacher. Yes, I do combine yogic wisdom with western psychology in my private practice as a therapist, where I sometimes include breathing techniques, meditation, and a few simple asanas for grounding purposes, for people who feel open to this mixture. Not everyone does.

    Although I am also a yoga teacher, I don’t teach a yoga class when I’m doing therapy. I do talk about yoga and suggest that people try studying yoga, as do many of my colleagues.

    We are not taking clients away from anyone– rather, we are sending clients to yoga teachers.

    It’s a big world–there’s room for everybody.

  • This is a rip off of the article I wrote for GAIA magazine in November 2008:
    Here’s my piece: http://commongroundmag.com/2008/11/yogatherapy0811.html

    The writer used my idea, my story flow, and re-reported on my exact sources. Sad.

  • Good post. What you wrote is true, there are no official licenses or standards of practice for yoga therapy.

  • As a psychotherapist with a personal daily yoga practice, I am often suggesting clients try incorporating yoga into their lives. Anything from deep breathing to enrolling into yoga classes at local studios can be beneficial to mental wellness. Since I am not yet certified to teach yoga, I do not lead clients in any straight out yoga poses. If I were, I would feel I was being unethical. I do plan on teacher training in the near future.

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