One of the most original thinkers in the field of Somatics (Body Therapy), Stanley Keleman has used his unique knowledge of the of the body’s functioning to help people grow, change, become unstuck, and transition from one life phase to the next. A pioneer, Keleman perceives the body, unmistakably, as the center of the self. Using Formative Psychology, the name for his brand of therapy, he teaches people to change their bodies so as to experience life more fully.
According to Keleman the body’s shapes changes over time due to nature and one’s voluntary effort to influence it. Bodies are inherited according to the rules of genetics, but immediately thereafter the innate structure changes due to the challenges and stressors of life. For instance, a five-year old responds to the yelling and screaming at the family dinner table by raising his shoulders in fear. So when this child grows up with shoulders locked and raised up around his neck, he cannot reach out to make contact. If he were then to seek help for relationship issues, a body therapist could help this young man learn new muscular approaches to life.
Keleman teaches individuals that they can participate in their own formative life process. By looking at their body shapes Keleman can provide workshop participants information about their life experiences, emotions, behavior, and belief systems. By educating people to use voluntary muscle movement to influence emotional and beliefs, he shows them how to turn their lives around.
Because body shapes have the ability to continually form and reform, one can have more than one somatic self. Each new shape represents another self wanting to be lived. People have the opportunity to form bodies appropriate for their age, work with the feelings and challenges of emerging shapes, and explore each unique individual identity as it emerges. The body process is the basis for how individuals form the self and their world view.
Stanley Keleman has been honored by both the European Body Psychotherapy Association and the United States Association for Body Psychotherapy and received an honorary doctorate degree from Saybrook University. By showing that the body is more than a series of innate reactions and that people can use voluntary muscle action to enhance their lives, Keleman teaches people to trust their bodies, to handle their emotions appropriately, and to have a better and richer connection to themselves.