Understanding Sophrology by Karina Luitaud Published by IPHM-International Practitioners of Holistic Medicine, 20th July 2015
Not yet well-known in English speaking countries, Sophrology was created in 1960 in Spain by Professor Alfonzo Caycedo, a Columbian neuropsychiatrist. It is very well-known in Spain, France, Switzerland where medical doctors now happen to send patients to Sophrologists for many reasons. It is slowly starting to grow in the UK, where you can find today around 35 Sophrologists. It is still a very small number compared to some other countries, maybe because Sophrology is still widely taught in French or Spanish and not so much in English. At the core of Sophrology, you find relaxation. It always starts with a deep form of relaxation, mainly by concentrating on your body, on your sensations. It is an opening to be more conscious of yourself, of your body and of your sensations. The relaxation can be done lying down, but in Sophrology we also use what is called Dynamic Relaxation, which is sometimes practiced sitting, or standing, or even while moving. Through this deep relaxation, Sophrology is extremely helpful in treating anxiety or stress related issues.
The process The Sophrologist only uses his/her voice. By talking in a specific manner, by using specific words, the Sophrologist will bring the patient to a deep relaxation level. The mind can easily reach what is called the Alpha Level, which is a state between the awaken state and the sleeping state, where the brain waves become slower, and therefore the patient becomes more relaxed but also more conscious.
Although different methods can be used to reach this state, the Sophrologist will usually use one method which will work well for a patient because repetition is a key to Sophrology. Once we find the specific way and words that work for a patient, we will tend to stick to them. This is because through the process, the subconscious mind will become more open and therefore we can use it to transform what the person wants to transform.
That is why, before starting the process, a long discussion is usually needed to understand the reasons of the person’s blocks or issues, and to find out with him/her what he or she wants to achieve. This is a main part of Sophrology as the patient and the Sophrologist will work together and as the Sophrologist will help the patient to use his or her inner capacities to learn to find help within himself/herself. Once the goal is set, the Sophrologist will work with the patient to find out what his/her subconscious will be most responsive to in order to reach that goal.
The entire method is based on a deep relaxation guided by the voice of the Sophrologist. The full process lasts 20 to 30 minutes. The entire session can last 45 to 60 minutes, including the process and the discussion with the Sophrologist. The first session is sometimes entirely dedicated to a discussion to understand the problems or the goals of the patient and decide what is to be expected. A typical treatment can last 2 months, usually with 1 to 2 sessions a week, and up to 4 months (up to 6 months in some cases). All this will be decided in the first sessions with the Sophrologist. It is important to understand that the Sophrologist is just a guide helping the patient to learn how to treat himself/herself. At the end of the process, the patient should be able to relax himself/herself and have a better control over whatever goals he/she wants to achieve.
The applications of Sophrology Let’s imagine that you are a professional tennis player and that you have a big game coming, facing an opponent who is known to be better than you are and who you could never defeat in the past. Let’s say that you are very anxious at the thought of the game and that deep inside you are sure that you can’t win. Then there is a fairly good chance that you won’t be at the maximum of your capacities. You might think it is not worth it. You might also not put all your efforts in something that you believe is vain. Nowadays many professional tennis players use Sophrology. Because Sophrology can help you think differently. Through Sophrology, you could prepare the game in your mind, in your subconscious and change the way you think about it. You can be more prepared and therefore you can imagine yourself winning, which will give you a much better chance to actually win. In opposition to some form of positive thinking, in Sophrology you never have to make any effort to think positive. In the process, your mind will naturally become more open to the other ways of thinking you wish to implement. You will imagine effortlessly what you want to achieve, which will make it in turn much easier to achieve. That could be winning a tennis match. That could also be succeeding in an exam, preparing yourself to give birth, preparing yourself for a surgery, helping you with some health issues, and of course making you more relaxed and less anxious. These are just examples. The applications are endless.
A key to the subconscious More than that, through Sophrology, you have an access to your subconscious. This can be very helpful for some deep issues. You can uncover some hidden reasons behind problems and this can be a key to treating them. Usually when we aim at this level, the mind goes even deeper and reaches the Theta Level, where the brain waves become even slower than in the Alpha Level. This is a state where you easily access your subconscious mind. Here the applications can become different. You could use it to unblock some issues. You could also use it to learn deeper forms of meditations. To reach these levels you probably would need at least 8 sessions, but it can be quite different from a person to another and therefore you should discuss this directly with your Sophrologist.
Important: Please note that Sophrology does not replace any medical treatment or medical advice.