Possibilities, perspectives and limits of Aucouturier's psychomotoric practice

When lecturing or leading courses I am often asked about the meaning of Aucouturier's psychomotoric practice. I answer these questions by relating to my personal experience, of using these concepts for the last 18 years. I find the approach, gaining access via the body and the motor behaviour to the world of emotions and feelings of the child very child-friendly and effective. Aucouturier's observations of games, played by infants all over the world and the conclusions he draws from his practical work with children, seems to me evidenced and valid time after time. As a therapist I see that the children enjoy coming to psychomotoric sessions and - surprisingly- very quickly open up, display trust and show their real »self «. Then they start creating new and previously unknown experiences, taking challenges and showing different play patterns and ways of communication. They start forming a new personality, with their own weaknesses and capabilities; they start expressing what they are able to do, what they are not, what they like and what they dislike. They express their real »self «. If we define the psychomotoric intervention as an aid to developing to psychological maturity through physical expression, it is successful in that moment when the child or a person learns to accept her individuality, imperfection, and differences.

This is the prime aim of psychomotoric intervention and I am always touched when it works! For that purpose I make myself available as a person, including my body and my emotions. The fact that this does not happen from a hierarchical level is in accordance with my values and beliefs that people only face new challenges if they are in a trusting and equal relationship. Then they start trusting me and my task as a therapist is to say the unspoken and to translate the feelings, anxieties and emotions in connection with these into words. »To face the facts« does not necessarily mean being cured, but it is a first step in that direction. A therapist in the psychomotoric space is needed as a person, to offer new experiences such as reliability, continuity, regard, respect, affection, etc.. That is what I can offer, this is my task: not to tell the child how she has to develop to be accepted and maybe loved, but to help her to accept and love herself with all the facets of her personality. If this succeeds, a positive course of development succeeds, which is existential and not just symptom focused.

What are the limits of this approach? One can be found in the physical and emotional capacity and strength of the therapist. To what extent can I offer myself, my body and my emotions time and again to other people? It is important to be alert and aware of one's own limits and to be careful not to go beyond one's own limits. This is very important because it is impossible to return to a functional way of working, once one has internalised this attitude towards human kind. It is also important to find other people who share these therapeutic beliefs and/or to take regular supervision sessions to be able to deal with the children's experiences.

Another limit is that, in my opinion, this concept can not be judged and evaluated in an objective way. There are no prefabricated and perfect human beings, who can be judged according to objective criteria and be put into fixed categories. I, personally, do not believe that human behaviour can ever be evaluated in an objective manner. Human beings are subjective individuals with their personal peculiarity and own history of life.

Author: © Marion Esser
Translation: Camilla Waldburg

Contact address in the UK:
Camilla Waldburg
45 Brockwell Park Gardens
SE24 9BJ


  • Aucouturier, Bernard, Lapierre, A.: Bruno, Ernst Reinhardt Verlag, Muenchen 1995, 2nd. ed.
  • Aucouturier, Bernard, Lapierre, A.: Symbolik der Bewegung, Ernst Reinhard Verlag, Muenchen1998
  • The newer concept are taken from lecture notes by Aucouturier, 1997–2000
  • Bortel, Dorothee: Die Beobachtung in der Psychomotorischen Praxis Aucouturier, Praxis der Psychomotorik, August, 2001
  • Esser, Marion: Beweggruende, Ernst Reinhard Verlag, Muenchen 1992
  • Esser, Marion: Von Bruno bis heute, Praxis der Psychomotorik, 25(2), 2000, S. 68–76
  • Winnicott, D.W.: Reifungsprozesse und foerdernde Umwelt, Muenchen 1962