Why Clients Lie Down During Therapy: Unraveling the Secrets of Freud’s Approach

When it comes to therapy, you may have wondered why some clients lie down on a couch during their sessions. It’s a practice that dates back to the early days of psychoanalysis, pioneered by the renowned Sigmund Freud. In this article, we’ll explore the reasons behind this unique therapeutic posture and shed light on its potential benefits.

The Influence of Freud’s Approach

Freud, the founding father of psychoanalysis, believed that the supine body posture could enhance the therapeutic process. He would often sit behind his patients, out of their direct line of sight, as they reclined on a couch. This approach, derived from hypnosis, aimed to prevent the interference of transference, where patients project feelings and emotions onto their therapist.

But what makes lying down during therapy different from the traditional sitting position? Recent research has delved into this question, suggesting that the supine body posture may have psychological advantages.

Promoting Relaxation and Openness

One study explored the impact of body posture on psychological defensiveness. Participants who assumed a lying position showed reduced defensiveness compared to those sitting upright. The supine posture seemed to promote a state of relaxation and openness, allowing clients to delve deeper into their thoughts and emotions. This lowered defensiveness can facilitate a more fruitful therapeutic journey.

Furthermore, neuroscience research has revealed intriguing findings regarding anger-related brain activity and body posture. Participants who received interpersonally insulting feedback while lying down exhibited different patterns of brain activity compared to those in an upright position. This suggests that the supine posture might influence an individual’s motivation to respond aggressively or impulsively when confronted with anger-inducing situations.

Lying Down in the Virtual Realm

So, why did Freud employ the lying-down position during therapy? It seems that he recognized the potential benefits of this posture, creating an environment conducive to self-reflection, introspection, and a willingness to explore deeply rooted emotions and memories. By removing the visual presence of the therapist, clients could focus on their internal experiences without distractions, fostering a sense of psychological freedom and uninhibited expression.

Today, many therapists still follow in Freud’s footsteps, offering clients the option to lie down during their sessions. However, it’s important to note that the decision to adopt this posture is ultimately a personal choice based on individual preferences and the therapeutic approach employed by the therapist.

Online Therapy: Adapting to Lying Down

When seeking psychotherapy via webcam, you may wonder if lying down is still an option. The answer is yes! Even in the virtual realm, clients can choose to lie down comfortably, replicating the experience of the traditional couch. Therapists adapt to this format by ensuring that clients have a supportive space where they can relax and engage in meaningful conversations.

It’s crucial to remember that therapy is a collaborative process. Regardless of the body posture, the most important aspect is the therapeutic relationship between client and therapist. Open communication, trust, and a safe environment lay the foundation for effective online therapy sessions.

Embrace Self-Discovery and Growth

In conclusion, the practice of lying down during therapy can be traced back to Freud’s innovative approach in psychoanalysis. While research suggests potential benefits associated with the supine body posture, the decision to adopt this position should be based on individual preference and the therapist’s guidance. Whether online or in-person, the therapeutic journey is ultimately about self-discovery, growth, and finding inner peace.


We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.


©2024 Counsellors One

Log in with your credentials


Forgot your details?

Create Account