Caycedian Sophrology: Authentic Sophrology by Alfonso Caycedo
What is Sophrology?
Sophrology is the term Professor Caycedo, a Spanish neuropsychiatrist (1932-2017) coined to describe the new discipline he devised in 1960 to offer a gentle therapeutic approach to his patients, drawing from his experience as a neuropsychiatrist, his studies into Greek philosophy, phenomenology and autogenic training, and his travels to India, Tibet and Japan to study yoga, Zen and Buddhism.
Up until then, invasive procedures such as electroshock and insulin-induced comas were commonly administered to patients who suffered from mental health conditions. Professor Caycedo wanted to find a more integrative way to support these patients and help improve their daily life.
In light of this holistic vision, Sophrology means “the study of consciousness in harmony”. Consciousness in Sophrology, as described by Caycedo, can be ‘normal’, ‘pathological’ or ‘sophronique’. Normal is the ordinary state of consciousness, where the individual lives in its natural state, without questioning its reality. Pathological is when the state of consciousness is disrupted by disease and sophronique is the state of consciousness we aim for with the practice of Sophrology: a pure state of harmony and balance of body and soul.
Caycedo created a unique practice and methodology organised around 12 levels to progressively reach a true state of balance and to live in harmony with our deepest values. The journey towards this more integrated state of being notably allows us to refine awareness of our body, to focus and creatively use our mind, develop confidence, to be more self-aware, and to discover our true self and purpose.
The practice is simple and uniquely combines breathing, relaxation, gentle movement and visualisation exercises to bring body and mind in a state of balance and develop our inner resources to live authentically and harmoniously with the world around us.
Caycedo also developed specific Sophrology protocols to help with the issues of modern life making it an efficient therapeutic tool to help people suffering from stress, anxiety, insomnia, lack of confidence, phobias, weight issues or preparing for important life events, like birth, exams or expatriation.
From the 1970’s, Sophrology started to spread outside the medical world and began to be applied in education, sport, corporate and social environments throughout France, Switzerland, Belgium and Spain. In the mid-1990’s it became reimbursed by Swiss health insurance policies and it is now a well-respected and widely used stress management and self-development method in Continental Europe.
As Sophrology was rapidly developing in Continental Europe in the 80’s, the word Sophrology became a generic term that could be used by everyone, including practitioners who hadn’t completed any formal training. The increased demand for Sophrologists also gave rise to different Sophrology schools and forms of training which did not always honour Professor Caycedo’s authentic method and vision.
While this is certainly an interesting development in the field of Sophrology, because techniques and approaches naturally tend to evolve, there was a need to ensure that the main principles of Sophrology remained intact for the sake of scientific and therapeutic integrity.
The term Caycedian Sophrology was introduced in 1992 by the founder himself, Professor Caycedo, to differentiate his method from other generic methods and to uphold the authentic form and credibility of his original teachings. For more info visit www.sofrocay.com which is the official International Caycedian Sophrology Academy.
Getting a certification from a Caycedian Sophrology School is a guarantee of professionalism and authenticity of the method. Practitioners who gain a qualification in Caycedian clients assurance they have trained to the highest standards.
At first glance, Sophrology may initially seem to be just an efficient relaxation method or a practical modality for life coaching but it is so much more!
Sophrology was originally designed to be able to help any individual access transformation in a simple and efficient way despite his/her physical ability, age, health state, values or beliefs.
In order for it to bring about what it was originally created for it needs to be taught and practised respecting its fundamental principles.
What makes Caycedian Sophrology unique?
Sophrology aims at transforming consciousness through a guided practice which takes a client through various exercises and steps of the method. The quality of the practitioner, his/her training and experience are therefore key.
Caycedian Sophrologists are trained to recognise the multiple states in which consciousness can present itself and how the practice can positively influence it. They are trained to look beyond the story of each client and their life and help each individual to develop their inner resources which are an inherent part of consciousness, something that everyone has and can unveil through the practice. They are of course also giving their clients tailored tools and strategies to overcome stress and solve specific issue but always within the context of developing a harmonious state of consciousness.
The subtlety of the method is not just about understanding its true aim, but how to bring each individual on this journey respecting their freedom and inner wisdom.
It’s about understanding that within each individual, the energy of their own consciousness is the source of the change and that as a Sophrologist, the way we bring the tools to the client matters.
Although it is a guided practice, the process isn’t directive, but rather creating the space for each individual’s creativity, imagination, resilience and contemplation to inform their process and transform their consciousness at a natural and safe pace.
Therefore, the choice of the words, the tempo and tone of voice, the ability of the Sophrologist to create an alliance with their client, respecting their values and objectives and tailoring the work for the best outcome as well as the phenomenological process are key. (See our article on Sophrology and values)
Caycedian Sophrology also puts great emphasis on the awareness of the body as a way to connect with the universal resources of consciousness and therefore each progressive step in Sophrology needs to be experienced in relation to sensations and perception; it is not mental programming but truly a phenomenological discovery of the body.
Because a Caycedian Sophrologist spends at least 4 years practising the method and journeying through the 12 levels themselves, they have personally experienced that transformation of consciousness in a phenomenological way, uncovering their inner values and enjoying a more harmonious state of body and mind throughout this personal journey.
The time spent practising and reflecting on these transformative experiences is going to inform the depth in which the Caycedian Sophrologist can support a transformational process in others.
As mentioned earlier, each Sophrologist needs to adapt the method to the situation presented. It is thanks to a solid understanding of the method that he/she can become creative in the way the method is transmitted, which like in other discipline makes each Sophrologist truly unique.
Here at BeSophro, Dominique had the privilege of training with Alfonso Caycedo and with many other Sophrologists who have inspired her to be the Sophrologist she is today. She has also co-founded The Sophrology Network, where Sophrologists from different backgrounds and training work together to raise awareness around the benefits of Sophrology, in the spirit that we, as practitioners, are all continuously expanding our knowledge and need each other’s support to thrive.
“Sophrology is a science studying consciousness in its balanced state, a discipline to develop an individual’s values, inspired from existential phenomenology.” Natalia Caycedo