Sophrology (English)

Here’s some information on sophrology in English

What is Sophrology?

Sophrology is a structured method of personal development designed to reduce stress and promote mental and physical well-being. This is achieved through easy-to-do physical movements and mental visualisations that, when practised regularly, lead to a healthy, relaxed body and a calm, alert mind. The movements are called dynamic relaxation (relaxation in movement) and can be done any time anywhere.

The word Sophrology comes from ancient Greek:

  • SOS = serenity, harmony
  • PHREN = spirit, consciousness
  • LOGOS = science, study

Sophrology can be described as the study of  harmony within the consciousness. Difficult life situations like traumas, bad health, professional frustrations – to mention but a few – can bring us into a state of unrest and disharmony. Sophrology’s goal is to bring us back closer to a state of healthy balance in both the body and the mind.  It is a surprizingly pragmatic tool that can help us face a vast scope of different difficulties that we can encounter (some of which are listed below) and it functions often by simply helping us to get past our habitual judgments, negative thought patterns and our false or limiting beliefs. One of the natural and welcome consequences of training oneself in the techniques of sophrology is offering onself the chance to either discover or confirm one’s deepest existential values. What matters most to me in life? What am I doing with my life? Where am I going with this lifestyle? Such questions and many more may come to the surface and through a relaxed and positive approach, the answers start to come…

The first benefits people generally notice are: more restful sleep, improved concentration, fewer worries, increased self-confidence, and a feeling of inner calm. The most common type of feedback I would receive from someone who has only had a few days of training would be along the lines of:

“In general nothing has really outwardly changed in my life,
but I am happier, things seem easier… I have more energy
and I wake up feeling glad to be alive.”

A Brief History of Sophrology

Professor Alfonso Caycedo was born in Columbia in 1932 and after completing his secondary level education he moved to Spain to attend university and went on to practise medicine at the University of Madrid. While on a trip to Switzerland, he met the father of phenomenological psychiatry, Herr Binswanger and decided to stay and study existential phenomenology, whilst working as neuropsychiatrist in Binswanger’s service.

Caycedo originally set out to find a way of healing depressed and traumatised clients by guiding them to health and happiness with the least possible use of drugs and psychiatric treatments. He journeyed extensively to study the Eastern philosophies of Yoga, Zen and Buddhism, each time viewing them within a western scientific framework. Each discipline, theory and philosophy was approached with the intention of discovering what, exactly, improved people’s health, both physically and mentally, in the fastest possible time and with lasting results.

On his return, Caycedo designed a method of healing, creating a training programme born from both Eastern and Western philosophies that took into account our modern way of life – with its speed, stress and problems. Caycedo named his method ‘Sophrology’ in 1960 and called it training of the consciousness and the values of existence,’ or ‘Health & Happiness Training’. Now, after over 50 years of research, fine tuning and experimentation, he has extensive evidence of the effectiveness of the Sophrology method.

Sophrology was initially kept firmly within the field of psychiatry and medicine until a Swiss doctor, Dr Raymond Abrezol discovered its unique benefits, and brought it to the attention of the healthy public. After practising Sophrology for a short while, Abrezol began to observe a noticeable improvement in his own tennis game. As an experiment, he introduced his opponents to the method, and they began to see their own game vastly improve. He was consequently invited to coach the Swiss ski team and other Olympic athletes.

The rapid growth of Sophrology throughout the French-speaking world can largely be attributed to Dr Abrezol running trainer training programmes for a large number of influential doctors and sports coaches, many of whom now run Training Centres throughout France. His enthusiasm and his success with athletes opened doors for Sophrology to be taught in many diverse walks of life.

There are now many Sophrology schools in French-speaking countries and also many adaptations of the original Caycedian Sophrology. Specializations include Dynamic Sophrology, Sophrology in a medical or maternity environment, Sophrology for Sport, etc. All originate from the same roots, all are based on phenomenology and all are developed according to the knowledge and experience of the Sophrologist.

Principles, techniques and benefits

Three fundamental principles

  • To bring the person into present time, HERE and NOW
  • To reinforce positive action, in order to develop the positive elements of the present, the future and the past rather than focusing on the negative
  • To develop an objective reality, to learn how to see the things more as they are rather than how we think they are.

Techniques and methods

  • Specific techniques and exercises (sophronisations): practised especially in individual sessions, they are numerous and selected according to level, needs and relevance (concentration on an internal stimulus, positive projection into the future or the past, etc.) with immediate or short-term objectives.
  • Dynamic Relaxation: A term used to describe the exercises designed to promote relaxation and focus in everyday life.

Benefits

Sophrology is made up of a training programme of practices aimed at improving physical and psychological health and well-being known as Sophrology Training. The mental and physical exercises are based on the concept of dynamic relaxation (relaxation in movement) used in everyday life situations. Their benefits:

  • Lower stress levels
  • Improve sleep
  • Manage emotions
  • Improve concentration
  • Increase energy levels
  • Overcome phobias
  • Manage pain
  • Improve relationship with oneself and others
  • Improve self-esteem and self confidence
  • Harmony between one’s mind, body and soul

Sophrology assists each person to rediscover their self-confidence and hidden potential. Group classes bring improvements in one’s communication skills and inter-personal relations. Students have stronger resistance to stressful situations, whether mental or physical. Since they have many more choices of how to act and react, it is easier to break out of old habitual patterns into more successful ways of operating.

The practice also leads to inner and outer awareness, leading to lucid moments of “being as one, being in the flow, living in the now.”

Training in Sophrology

Currently there are social Sophrologists in Colombia, in a branch initiated by Dr. Caycedo in 1982. Their objective is to promote collective awareness towards a better society.
Sophrology is also well-established in Andorra, France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland.

Sophrology is currently widely used in Switzerland and is covered by Swiss Health Insurance.

Sophrologists work in the Swiss and French school systems to help with exam stress, self confidence and general well-being. Many Swiss hospitals employ Sophrologists to help with stress before examinations, surgical interventions and childbirth. Most international level Swiss sportsmen and sportswomen train with Sophrologists.

There are very few English-speaking Sophrologists in the world, however, there are now schools opening to provide Professional training in English.

In France, one of the leading French training centres is the IFS: http://www.sophrologie-formation.fr/

Many thanks to the International Sophrology Federation and to Wikipedia for borrowed texts.