What is Sophrology and How Effective Is It?

Through different relaxation techniques, sophrology seeks that people connect with states of consciousness, fullness and well-being. We explain it in detail.
What is Sophrology and How Effective Is It?

Written by Editorial Team

Last update: 14 September, 2022

Stress moves more or less silently among people. Our day-to-day livs, with their unstoppable pace, rarely give us a break and invite us to think about how we are and how we feel. This is one of the main goals of sophrology.

Today, we may constantly be worrying about work; tomorrow, this may affect our rest and sleep. In some people, stress appears as spots on the skin.

Sophrology consists of a set of techniques that work with consciousness, through relaxation and breathing, as a bridge to introspection. Let’s take a look at what differentiates it from other contemporary options.

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What is sophrology?

When we talk about sophrology, we can start with its etymology. It comes from the conjunction between “serenity”(sos), “mind”(phren) and “reason”(logos). Thus, sophrology is the study of consciousness in equilibrium.

It dates back to 1960 and its creator is Alfonso Caycedo, a neuropsychiatrist who developed this methodology during his work in hospital institutions. It’s based on phenomenology, a philosophical movement inspired by freedom, commitment, and individual responsibility. It also takes contributions from yoga and Japanese Zen.

Sophrology distinguishes between different states of consciousness, among which we find the following:

  • Sick is that which is altered or distorted.
  • Ordinary is where people spend most of their time.
  • Sophronic refers to that state of maximum or potential, in which people feel at ease, in harmony and balance, and more like themselves.

The latter state is rather exceptional, however. We only tend to experience it on limited occasions.

The aim of sophrology is to make this state of consciousness more frequent and present through a proactive and committed role. For this purpose, different techniques are used. Among the best known are those of relaxation, which include body and breathing exercises.

sophrology meditation
Yoga, Zen philosophy, and breathing techniques are part of the philosophy of sophrology.

Sophrology techniques

One of the methods used is the dynamic relaxation of Caycedo (DRC), which combines physical and mental exercises to lead the person, progressively, towards introspection. This works first with body awareness, then with the mind and finally with the emotions.

DRC involves 12 progressive degrees that are structured in a coherent and organized manner.

The Caycedo method also makes use of phronic techniques, which are used to work on the past, present, and future from positive aspects. They are characterized by being of short duration, between 10 to 15 minutes. They are focused on concrete and specific objectives.

Four keys

To summarize, we can say that sophrology focuses on the following aspects:

  1. Positive experience implies relating to the positive and to one’s own strengths.
  2. Knowledge of the body schema is all about knowing our body and how it expresses and communicates with us and the outside world.
  3. Repetition occurs when the person is able to apply the techniques by him/herself.
  4. Adaptability is being able to bring sophrology to the field of daily life, providing therapeutic independence.

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The effectiveness of sophrology

Sophrology is useful to learn to control stress and negative and intrusive thoughts through greater awareness of what happens to us. In this way, we could improve our attitude towards the many different situations we experience in our lives.

In this sense, much of sophrology is oriented to a more positive vision and life for human beings. In fact, one of the approaches is that just as traumatic experiences are capable of leaving their mark, so too can positive experiences.

The repetition and practice of the techniques until they’re well absorbed allows a person to conquer this state of consciousness, fullness, and well-being.

The various applications of sophrology

Sophrology has applications in different situations and fields. One of the most frequent is competitive sports, where participants are subjected to high demands that are both physical and mental.

It’s also recommended as a resource to cope with contractions and the moment of childbirth. This is because sophrology works a lot with body self-knowledge, relaxation, and breathing techniques, as well as the evocation of situations of tranquility and serenity.

It’s even applied in school settings to regain the balance and calm lost. It can accompany the processes of teaching and learning.

In this sense, sophrology is also considered effective in addressing anxiety disorders, psychosomatic discomfort, and mood disorders. In addition, other applications are still under study.

An athlete using sophrology
Stress in elite sports is very marked and common. Several athletes use sophrology to cope with the demands.

Beyond sophrology…

Currently, we’re witnessing the growing popularity of many different types of practices, therapies, and treatments that invite self-knowledge to achieve functional and adaptive responses. There are techniques that can help us to abandon the states of passivity and reactivity that turn us into victims and to move towards proactive responses and greater personal empowerment.

Just as it’s important to start looking for the connection with ourselves to avoid the excessive influence of the outside, it’s equally necessary to inform people about the techniques and the therapeutic approach that’s being used. In the case of sophrology, the name for the true practice has come to be called caycedian sophrology, since it encountered multiple imitations and replicas that went against the true spirit with which it began.

Today, many prescriptions suggest magical solutions to concrete and real problems. That’s why it’s necessary to be careful. It’s essential that practitioners never violent their patients’ right to health and their trust in their therapy.

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  • Caycedo A. Sofrología Médica. Barcelona: Ed. Aura, 1973
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  • Feliu, M. R. T. (2014). Los Trastornos de Ansiedad en el DSM-5. Cuadernos de medicina psicosomática y psiquiatria de enlace, (110), 62-69.