Our depressed and anxious clients don’t only exhibit their symptoms through speech and vocal tone. You see them in their body language too—in slouching torsos, folded arms, and shallow breathing.

“When fight or flight goes on too long, your body is still acting like it has to fight or run,” says Jim Gordon, Director of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine in Washington DC. “Then you become tense when you don’t need to be. You feel your heart racing, can’t study, and have stomach and head pains.”

Given the connection between the psychological ailments and the state of the body, Gordon says therapeutic interventions that engage the body are not only perfect for healing depression, but giving clients a tangible experience of their progress from the very first session.

Check out the video clip below to learn more about Gordon’s mind-body approach and how it works.

“When the belly is soft and relaxed,” Gordon says, “more air comes into the lower part of the lungs and more oxygen enters the bloodstream. Oxygen feeds our brains and all our body’s cells and a soft belly helps activate the vagus nerve, which promotes relaxation and is the antidote to fight or flight.”

Using Gordon’s “soft belly” breathing technique, your clients can experience immediate relief. When they notice the psychological and physiological results—relaxation in the shoulders and a feeling of being more alive and present with you in sessions—they can gain the confidence they need to begin moving toward a state of well-being.

Rich Simon

Richard Simon, PhD, founded Psychotherapy Networker and served as the editor for more than 40 years. He received every major magazine industry honor, including the National Magazine Award. Rich passed away November 2020, and we honor his memory and contributions to the field every day.

James Gordon

James S. Gordon, MD, is a psychiatrist, the founder and CEO of The Center for Mind-Body Medicine, and the author of Transforming Trauma: The Path to Hope and Healing. He is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Family Medicine at Georgetown Medical School and chaired the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy. His work with war-traumatized children in Gaza and Israel, both of which he has visited 20 times, has been featured on 60 Minutes in 2015, as well as in The New York Times and The Washington Post.