Writings on Embodied-Relational Therapy

Books by ERT Practitioners

Books on Relational Body Psychotherapy, Wild Therapy, Reichian Bodywork and other subjects, written by ERT practitioners. This list is not complete – we will be adding more over the coming months.

 Holding The Hope: Reviving Psychological And Spiritual Agency In The Face Of Climate Change

Holding The Hope: Reviving Psychological And Spiritual Agency In The Face Of Climate Change (PCCS Books 2023)
Edited by: Linda Aspey, Catherine Jackson and Diane Parker
Available from: PCCS Books

Holding The Hope: Reviving Psychological And Spiritual Agency In The Face Of Climate Change includes chapters written by Nick Totton and Emma Palmer from ERTA.

This collection explores how, in our practices and as a community, we are able to hold clients’ and communities’ fear, anger, denial, grief, helplessness and hopelessness – and be with our own – in response to catastrophic climate change and the growing reality of the destruction of Earth’s ecosystem and species extinction.


Reichian Growth Work – Melting the blocks to life and love (2nd edition) (PCCS Books)
Author: Nick Totton & Em Edmondson
Available from: PCCS Books

A revised and updated new edition of a body psychotherapy classic, Reichian Growth Work sets out to convey the essential features of Reichian therapy in concrete and easily understandable language. The style of body therapy which it describes is democratic, growth-oriented and undogmatic, while still committed to Reich’s radical description of human beings and their difficulties. ‘This book is for people who want to change; because only by changing, profoundly painful as that sometimes is, can we stay alive and growing.

Embodied Relating- The Ground of Psychotherapy

Embodied Relating: The Ground of Psychotherapy (Karnac 2015)
Author: Nick Totton
Available from: Karnac Books

Embodied Relating is addressed both to body psychotherapists and to verbal therapists, and argues that embodied relating is the soil from which all therapy grows, and that conscious understanding of this makes our work more powerful and accurate.

Embodied relating is embedded in our everyday life: we can all ‘do’ embodied relating, though some do it better than others. Like many other important aspects of life, it generally happens of its own accord, but sometimes benefits from the sort of close examination which tends to happen in therapy. However, psychotherapy has a history of keeping embodiment out of its field of awareness, and of preferring language-based relating to all other kinds – indeed, until quite recently, of downplaying here-and-now relationship altogether. All these things are now changing; and this book is intended to be part of the change.

How To Be A Bad Therapist (Amazon)
Authors: Nick Totton & Allison Priestman
Available from: Amazon

In this short and hopefully easy-to-read book we aim to throw open some windows, to bring fresh air into the discourse about what makes a good or bad therapist and to offer some redefinitions of therapy. We suggest that therapy isn’t an expert knowledge system, open to being standardised and manualised, but is more akin to local, indigenous, embodied and relational forms of knowledge. Therapy isn’t primarily an academic activity, and we would argue is not best taught in an academic, rigorously assessed context. We are interested in questioning who sets the rules? Are the rules and expectations of how to be a good therapist the most helpful ones? In the search for high standards and protection of the client has something been lost? We believe that the core skills of being a therapist are human and innate. Rather than offering a restrictive model of what should and shouldn’t be done, training could reframe itself to look at what’s getting in the way of the practitioner’s ability to be in contact, offer intimacy, create and maintain an appropriate relationship. Training to explore how to work creatively with, rather than act out from, our wounding. Counselling and psychotherapy, especially when we work relationally, is often an unpredictable process. We will explore how to embrace the inherent messiness, awkwardness and un-knowableness, of working as a therapist.


Bodywise: weaving somatic psychotherapy, ecodharma and the Buddha in everyday life
Author: Kamalamani
Paperback, ebook
Available from: Somatic Psychotherapy Today

What can the theory and practice of somatic/body psychotherapy, ecopsychology and Buddhism offer to each other? For the past five years, Kamalamani has shared life and work at the confluence of these fields in her quarterly Bodywise articles for Somatic Psychotherapy Today, an independent international publication representing various modalities in body psychotherapy, somatic psychology, and pre-natal and perinatal psychology. This volume brings together these quarterly Bodywise articles. Kamalamani explores client work in embodied and relational ways, drawing upon her practice of Buddhism. With her characteristically warm, immediate, accessible tone, Kamalamani encourages personal reflection and professional consideration as she offers insights illuminated by traditional Buddhist texts along with personal and clinical anecdotes that range from birth to death, from meditating with character to Reich’s character structures, from trauma and terrorized bodies to diversity, embodied spirituality and pre-natal and peri-natal psychology. She often provokingly offers more questions than answers and writes in a way that offers not only a sacred space for opening, sensing, being quiet, but also joining forces with our global communities in feeling the outrage, the love, the fear, the bliss that comes with interaction. She reminds us again and again of a whole-earth perspective, bringing sentient life and living processes into awareness in the course of everyday life, practice, and the work of healing.

NB All proceeds from this book will be donated to the ongoing costs of creating and publishing Somatic Psychotherapy Today, helping to defray the costs associated with an independently run international magazine. It is through generous gifts like Kamalamani’s and others’ who donate to Somatic Psychotherapy Today that it continues to exist.

Available as a paperback and ebook. More information on Goodreads

meditating with character

Meditating with Character (Mantra Books 2012)
Author: Kamalamani
Available from: Mantra Books

Meditating with Character invites the reader to get really curious about what goes on in their meditation practice, through understanding their embodying and disembodying habits. These habits and patterns are explored through the lens of character positions, a body of knowledge taken from post-Reichian psychotherapy. This book breaks new ground in weaving together important threads from meditation, body psychotherapy, and Buddhism, encouraging the reader to be more present with their experience of being an integrated body-mind.

#MeToo – Counsellors and Psychotherapists Speak About Sexual Violence and Abuse (PCCS Books 2020)
Co-editors Emma Palmer (was Kamalamani) and Deborah A Lee
Available from: PCCS Books

In 2017 the global #MeToo movement burst through the conspiracy of silence around women’s experience of sexual abuse and violence. Since then, other groups have found the courage to declare that they too have experienced sexual abuse and are unafraid and unashamed to let it be known. Now this ground-breaking book provides a space where counsellors and psychotherapists – more often the listeners to such stories – can tell their own stories, sometimes for the first time. Each chapter is written by a counsellor, psychotherapist or therapy client, and followed up with a dialogue between writer and peer. Together they form a community of #TherapistsToo voices, brought together in the hope that readers both within and beyond the counselling and psychotherapy realm will feel less alone and more connected. This is a book for anyone wanting to understand the ubiquity of sexual violence and sexual abuse and how to respond, support, raise awareness, campaign and be part of creating a culture which says #TimesUp.



Wild Therapy (PCCS Books)
Author: Nick Totton
Available from: PCCS Books

Therapy is by nature wild; but a lot of it at the moment is rather tame. This book tries to shift the balance back towards wildness, by connecting therapy with ecological thinking, seeing each species, each being, and each person inherently and profoundly linked to each other. Therapists have always tried to help people tolerate the anxiety of not being in control of our feelings, our thoughts, our body, our future. Human efforts to control the world are well on the way to wrecking it through environmental collapse: the more we try to control things, the further out of balance we push them. Nick Totton describes a mode of being present in all cultures, ‘Wild Mind’, and explores how this can be supported through a ‘wild therapy’, bringing together a wide range of already-existing ideas and practices, which may have a role to play in creating a new culture that can live well on the earth without damaging ourselves and other beings.

other than mother

Other than Mother: Choosing Childlessness with Life in Mind (Earth Books)
Author: Kamalamani
Available from: Earth Books

Choosing to have children is a private decision with global consequences. Other Than Mother explores the decision-making process around not having children.

What is ERT?
ERT is an holistic integrative approach focusing on two facts about human beings: we are embodied and in relationship. To be alive we need to be a body, to be alive we need to relate to others; our greatest challenges and our greatest joys follow from this.

As human beings, we are integrated body-mindspirit; on the whole, we find this condition hard to manage. Our nature seeks to
express itself freely, while at the same time protecting itself in conditions sometimes of great difficulty. This double task of expression and protection makes us often subject to contradictory pulls, and offering double messages about what we feel, want and need. Through a relationship which is challenging but supportive and non-invasive, it is possible to disentangle our doubleness and allow our process to unfold.

Sometimes the problem is to ‘bring spirit down’ into material expression, to commit ourselves sufficiently to the recalcitrance and fixity of being in the world, rather than floating off in fantasy. Sometimes the problem is to ‘bring matter up’ into spiritual connection, to hold sufficient inspiration and enlightenment rather than getting caught in the demands of practical existence.
For each of us, there is a constantly shifting balance; also for each of us, we have certain preferences, predilections, assumptions which go to make up our character structure. This expresses itself not only in our habits of thought and behaviour, but also in our bodily and energetic patterns.

What we have just called ‘character structure’ can be usefully reframed as ‘style of relating’. There is a consonance between a person’s style of relating to the conditions of existence – to embodiment – and their style of relating to other human beings. (After all, it is through interactions with other people above all else that a baby learns what to expect from the universe and how best to respond to it.) Our nature seeks to express itself freely, while at the same time protecting itself in conditions sometimes of great difficulty. This double task of expression and protection makes us often subject to contradictory pulls, and offering double messages about what we feel, want and need. Through a relationship which is challenging but supportive and non-invasive, it is possible to disentangle our doubleness and allow our process to unfold.

ERT draws a great deal from other therapies, particularly those from the body psychotherapy tradition, and brings these ideas and techniques into a new synthesis with its own unique flavour and values. We describe this in terms of seven metaskills: Awareness, Trust, Contactfulness, Spontaneity, Spaciousness, Relaxation and Wild Mind.
Encouraging a deep letting go into what is, ERT takes a position of profound trust that what ever is trying to happen in someone’s life needs to happen, and whatever needs to happen is trying to happen.

The fundamental assumption of Embodied-Relational Therapy is that we all do the best we possibly can – the best that we know so far. Each individual has come up with a brilliant solution to the conditions in which they have found themselves – the optimum style of relating, the optimum balance between body and spirit. Equally, each person is seeking, consciously or unconsciously, to change their behavioural style in accordance with current conditions – which may be very different from the conditions in which we grew up. Whatever appears in a person’s life as a problem, a symptom, a conflict, can also be understood as an incomplete attempt to change and grow.

So the core tasks of the therapist are:

  • To support all aspects of the client’s process – not just the bits we like! This is harder than it may sound, and is probably the heart of the therapeutic project.
  • To identify and amplify that process, especially as it expresses itself through relationship – through the feelings each person has about the other.
  • To come back, over and over, to a centred and open position, holding the space so as to allow the client free expression within it, and so as to witness every aspect of the situation including one’s own responses.
Recent Blog Posts

Wild mind, our ecological consciousness – video

In this video I talk about Wild mind, our ecological consciousness. Wild Mind can be our route back into our connection with the wild that we live within. Reminding us of our reciprocal relationship with the air, the earth, that we are fundamentally interdependent. It offers me a hopeful way forward.

Therapy as Play Video

In this short video I offer a re-conceptualisation of therapy. Therapy as a form of play. I explore the many advantages of thinking of therapy as play, - especially for the practitioner. Play is central to my work with clients, supervisees...

Embodied Relating a Video

Embodiment and Relationship are interrelated and inseparable. In this video I explore the subtle skill set of connecting to and utilising our embodiment as a relational resource. The starting place for working relationally, is being with our own experience in the moment.

Articles from the ERT Community