Transforming thoughts with postural awareness to increase therapeutic and teaching efficacy

  • Erik Peper San Francisco State University
  • Richard Harvey Institute for Holistic Health Studies, San Francisco State University, USA
  • Daniel Hamiel Donald J. Cohen & Irving B. Harris Resilience Center, Association for Children at Risk, Tel-Aviv, Israel and Baruch Ivcher School of Psychology, Herzlyia Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, Israel
Keywords: posture, psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, stress reduction, internal language, breathing


This article suggests that clinicians as well as educators should employ simple and quick posture comparison techniques to shift awareness, elevate mood, and support cognitive function.  The report examines the impact of a short somatic involvement technique that involved changing one’s body posture to reduce the effect of self-evoked memory of stress.  Group observations of 90 men and 55 women, mean age 22.5 years, suggest that people were able to reframe stressful memories much more easily when in an upright posture compared to a slouched posture.  They reported a significant reduction in negative thoughts as determined by a single factor ANOVA, F(1, 285) = 42.92, p = .001; and anxiety and tension as determined by a single factor ANOVA, F(1, 287) = 62.38, p = .001.  We suggest that therapists and clients get up out of their chairs and incorporate body movements when either the therapist or the client feels stuck, in order to reduce rigidity and increase openness of thoughts and emotions facilitated, which may increase educational and therapeutic goals with sustained benefits outside of the classroom or clinic.

Author Biographies

Erik Peper, San Francisco State University
Professor Institute for Holistic Health Studies Department of Health Education
Richard Harvey, Institute for Holistic Health Studies, San Francisco State University, USA

Associate Professor, Health Education, San Francisco State University

Daniel Hamiel, Donald J. Cohen & Irving B. Harris Resilience Center, Association for Children at Risk, Tel-Aviv, Israel and Baruch Ivcher School of Psychology, Herzlyia Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, Israel



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Research Papers