Modern sacral-psychotherapeutic practices (anthropologist’s participant observation) (summary)

© 2011 A.E. Likhomanov

2011 – № 1 (1)

Key words: sacral-psychotherapeutic practices, meditation, contact improvisation, trainings, body-oriented psychotherapy

Abstract: This article draws readers’ attention to description and brief analysis of specific sacral-psychotherapeutic practices of two distinct groups located in the city of Volgograd: “The School of Contact Improvisation” and «”Butterfly Lab” – Laboratory of Self-Revealization”. Both of these schools combine the philosophy of Oriental mystic teachings, elements of religious-mystical practices and contemporary psychotherapeutic methods. Usually the leaders of such groups come up with their own methods of work. This study has been conducted via participant observation method, working inside the groups under analysis.

Among the modern population of our country (especially among young people) there are more and more supporters of various forms of psychotherapeutic practices. Along with proliferation of clinical psychotherapy and psychological correction, sacred-psychotherapeutic practices have taken a special development path.

Dance and movement, dramatic and other body-oriented classes and trainings are examples of such practices. As a rule, modern sacred-therapeutic schools combine the philosophy of Oriental mystical teachings, elements of religious and mystical practices and psychotherapeutic techniques of our time.

Brief analysis of practices of two groups of dance & movement and body-oriented character has shown that there is further integration of innovative ideas from the field of psychotherapy and psycho-correction techniques in a modern society of Volgograd citizens.

During the sessions (classes) usual methods of body therapy (founded by Wilhelm Reich and Alexander Lowen) are used.

Namely, the two studied groups are using:

  • dance and movement and body-oriented therapy;
  • contact improvisation and spontaneous dance;
  • breathing techniques.

Bodywork therapy incorporates physical component into the group experience and offers an alternative to excessively cognitive and cerebral group methods. It is a powerful way to release emotions that can also provoke questions and feelings from other group members who observe or facilitate the work of their colleagues. Critics object to ‘harshness’ of some methods, their ritual aspects and a theory of catharsis underlying body therapy.

It is important to note that today the activities of this kind are in dire need of professional study. They need to be discussed in a dialogue with the adherents of these methods of self-perfection. Conferences, master classes, lectures/seminars of interdisciplinary nature organized with participation of researchers of these phenomena are necessary for successful integration of these techniques within the scope of ‘studied areas’. It is also important to facilitate professional consultation of organizers of such groups and their followers by scientists, researchers of health promotion practices, etc.


Rudestam, K.E. (1982), Experiental Groups in Theory and Practice Monterey, Brooks/Cole, California, available at: rudes01/ index.htm, accessed 01/21/2015)

Florida Society for Bioenergetic Analysis, available at: (accessed 01/21/2015)

“Feldenkrais Method: restoration of joint spinal cord mobility”, available at: (accessed 01/21/2015).

Moscow Center of Contact Improvisation and Performance, available at: (accessed 01/21/2015)

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