By Cynthia Price
Cynthia Price, PhD MA LMT is a Research Associate Professor at the University of Washington in Seattle. Shestudies Mindful Awareness in Body-oriented Therapy (MABT), an approach she developed to facilitate body/interoceptive awareness and related skills for self-care and emotion regulation. She has clinical and research expertise working with people who are disconnected from their bodies due to trauma, chemical dependency, chronic pain or other life stressors. Director of the non-profit Center for Mindful Body Awareness http://www.cmbaware.org/ she is involved in training clinicians in the MABT approach and implementing programs, particularly for underserved populations, to help make somatic awareness more available to more people.
Interoceptive awareness – the awareness of inner body sensations – is integral to mindfulness practice. Most often, in mindfulness classes and practice, people engage in interoceptive awareness by attending to the sensation of their breathing or by engaging in a body scan. Learning to become aware of how one feels inside is critical for gaining access to emotions, the link between emotions and physical sensations, and having an overall embodied sense-of-self. Likewise, learning to integrate mindful attention to bodily experience in daily life can enhance regulation and self-care.
However, mindful attention to the body is not easy for everyone. This tends to be particularly true for people who are unfamiliar with the practice, those who have high levels of stress, and those who may avoid awareness of their inner body sensations due to physical or emotional pain, for example those with a history of physical and/or sexual trauma. For some, individualized assistance in a safe therapeutic relationship is needed to develop interoceptive awareness as well as the capacity for sustained attention to internal experience. Mindful Awareness in Body-oriented Therapy (MABT) was developed to explicitly teach fundamental interoceptive awareness skills and to develop the capacity for sustained attention to interoceptive experience. The MABT approach grew out of Cynthia Price’s clinical work with people who were seeking emotional awareness and healing but were disconnected from their bodies. In more recent years, research findings highlight how helpful the MABT approach can be for reducing mental and physical health distress and for increasing emotion regulation. As one research participant wrote about learning this approach: “I tried meditating over the years and I was never able to concentrate. With MABT, I was able to slow my mind down and then follow what she (the therapist) was saying, concentrating on a body part, and what I was feeling and afterwards talking about that. Eventually, I learned to do that by myself. This is why I thought this approach was amazing because it taught me to meditate. Now I meditate every night. The difference is having someone lead me into learning how to do it first.’’
Join Cynthia Price and her colleagues for the Mindful Awareness in Body-oriented Therapy (MABT) professional training, April 28 – May 7, 2018 at Joshua Tree Retreat Center, Joshua Tree, CA. Mindful Awareness in Body-oriented Therapy (MABT) is an empirically validated 8-week intervention that combines manual, psychoeducation, and mindfulness approaches to teach interoceptive awareness and related practices for self-care and regulation. To learn more, listen to the Liberated Body podcast in which Cynthia describes the MABT approach: https://www.liberatedbody.com/podcast/cynthia-price-lbp-060
- Price, C. & Smith-DiJulio, K. (2016). Interoceptive Awareness is Important for Relapse Prevention: Perceptions of Women who Received Mindful Body Awareness in Substance Use Disorder Treatment. Journal of Addictions Nursing, 27 (1): 32-8. PMC4784109.
- Price, C., Wells, E., Donovan, D., Rue, T. (2012). Mindful Awareness in Body-oriented Therapy as an Adjunct to Women’s Substance Use Disorder Treatment: A Pilot Feasibility Study. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 43: 94-107.
- Price, C., Taibi, D., Smith Di-Julio, K., Voss, J. (2013). Developing Compassionate Self-Care Skills in Persons Living with HIV: a Pilot Study to Examine Mindful Awareness in Body-oriented Therapy Feasibility and Acceptability. International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, 6(2): 1-11.
- Price, C., McBride, B., Hyerle, L., Kivlahan, D. (2007). Body-oriented Psychotherapy for Female Veterans with PTSD Taking Prescription Analgesics for Chronic Pain: A Feasibility Study. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 13(6):32-43.
- Price C. (2005). Body-Oriented Therapy in Recovery from Childhood Sexual Abuse: An Efficacy Study. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 11, (5): 46-57.