Since one of my specialties as a translator is medical, and that I am particularly interested in alternative medicines, I wanted to write this post about a holistic therapy that is well developed in Europe, particularly in Switzerland, France, Spain, and now the UK, but doesn’t seem to be as present in the US, and that is Sophrology.
What is sophrology?
Sophrology, practically, consists in a structured body of physical (i.e breathing techniques) and mental (i.e visualization) exercises that help restore or produce better mind/body well-being and health, and can be helpful in dealing with pain, sleep problems, or enhancing such things as self confidence and performance.
Here is a video of the Sophrology Academy that explains it pretty well, which includes practical illustrations and testimonies, interviews, of people who use sophrology in different fields: a dancer, a person going through a career change, a yoga teacher and mother.
The word “sophrology” comes from the Greek:
SOS – Harmony PHREN – Consciousness and LOGOS – Study of
Sophrology was founded by Professor Alfonso Caycedo, a neuro-psychiatrist who originally was seeking a way to help heal victims of the civil war in Spain with the least possible drug use. After researching in Switzerland using phenomenology, he travelled East to study yoga, zen and Buddhism. He borrowed from these techniques to build up his core exercises “aiming at an alert mind in a relaxed body”. Theses techniques and exercises are “at the crossroads between Western relaxation en Eastern meditation” (The Sophrology Academy, What is sophrology).
Current uses of sophrology, a few examples:
-Hospitals use sophrology to prepare patients for surgery or childbirth.
-Performers such as athletes, dancers, as well as students use it to reduce stress, overcome difficulties, and enhance performance.
-International organizations and companies also use sophrology to reduce stress.
I happen to have had first hand experience with sophrology myself: in my youth I was a professional dancer and ballet teacher for a few years, and one of my instructors, who was trained in sophrology, used it for relaxation purposes in her teaching. It allowed me, among other things, to get some effortless progress in my stretching, that had been somewhat blocked by putting too much will and too much tension in it. I was taught to visualize the result I wanted to get as already accomplished, visualize success. And it worked really well.
The second time I used sophrology was for childbirth in France. My midwife prepared for childbirth with sophrology, which was really helpful in dealing with pain.
A few facts:
-Sophrology is recognized in Spain, France and Switzerland, and is now recognized in the UK and has for many years been recognized, recommended and re-imbursed by Swiss health Insurances.
The Ecole des Hautes Etudes de Sophrologie et Bio-analyse website proposes a bibliography in French on the subject :