If you’re looking for an intervention that combines counseling, bodywork, and lifestyle changes, you may want to learn more about polarity therapy.
Polarity therapy is based on four foundations: counseling, bodywork, nutrition, and exercise. The goal is to harmonize your physical body’s energy flow to prevent or address health challenges.
Polarity therapy isn’t evidence-based though the technique is a popular relaxation bodywork method. Also, even though polarity therapy was developed in 1947, research on its effectiveness and safety is limited.
The term “polarity” is a broad reference to the concept of positive and negative energy in the body. The term was coined by polarity therapy’s founder, Randolph Stone, an osteopathic physician. This concept guides a polarity therapist’s understanding of illness and their approach to healing.
Polarity therapy or polarity balancing is an alternative medical approach inspired by
Polarity therapy also incorporates basic principles of
“The main goal of polarity therapy is to help you get to the source of your illness. This is accomplished by balancing your body’s energy,” says Colleen Petruzzi, a practitioner in Huntington, New York.
The therapy assumes that energy imbalances manifest as diseases in the body. Mental and emotional challenges contribute to the imbalance, Petruzzi explains.
The term “body’s energy” can be a way of referring to the body’s
To become a Board Certified Polarity Practitioner (BCPP), candidates must pass an exam. This credential is issued by the American Polarity Therapy Association. Certification requires 800 hours of training and indicates standardized knowledge of the subject.
Licensing is managed by different professional divisions, depending on the state. You need at least a massage therapy license to practice polarity therapy in most states.
Polarity therapy is different from both massage therapy and Reiki.
Massage therapy typically involves directly manipulating your muscles to release tension and pain.
Reiki is a Japanese therapy that uses universal energy to promote healing by using the therapist as a channel. Reiki practitioners aim to direct energy flow toward problem areas in your body by holding their hands on or slightly off said areas.
Polarity therapy’s approach to counseling is rooted in “active and reflective listening,” says Petruzzi.
Therapists will want to explore how you view yourself in relationship to others, how this influences your mental health, and how your mental health impacts your body.
Each session with a polarity therapist will include some form of counseling. The focus is on helping you become more aware of your thought patterns and emotions and how they affect your health.
Counseling in polarity therapy isn’t equivalent to psychological counseling or psychotherapy. Polarity therapists aren’t required to train as mental health counselors or hold any mental health licenses and certifications.
There’s also limited research about the safety and effectiveness of counseling in polarity therapy.
Bodywork is central to polarity therapy. It refers to techniques that involve touching or stretching the body, guided breathwork, or manipulation of the body’s energy.
The main goal of bodywork is to bring fluidity to stiffness and stagnancy in your body. Free-flowing energy is assumed to be the basis for health in polarity therapy.
During a polarity balancing session, the therapist’s hands are first used as tools to detect areas of energetic imbalance.
Your therapists may apply direct touch to your body depending on your symptoms. Light touch may progress to gentle rocking as a means of relaxation and balancing your energy.
A polarity therapist may recommend changes in your eating habits to reduce toxins in your body.
Toxins, like pesticides or colorants, are viewed as agents that inhibit the free flow of energy.
Nutritional counseling in polarity therapy isn’t about weight management. Instead, the emphasis is on consuming whole foods such as fruits and vegetables and using anti-inflammatory spices like turmeric.
Polarity therapists may have formal nutritional training or licensing, but they are not required.
Polarity therapy can also involve gentle, instinctual, yoga-inspired poses and stretches, often customized to your individual needs.
A practitioner might recommend practicing these exercises for a few minutes each day while repeating vocal expressions such as “ha” or “hum.”
Research on the benefits of polarity therapy for mental health is limited.
More research is needed to determine the overall effectiveness of polarity therapy to manage mental health or overall health challenges.
Sessions vary between therapists, but the structure is generally the same.
You can expect to speak with a polarity therapist for the first 30 to 60 minutes before moving to bodywork.
Petruzzi says it’s important for a therapist to create a “safe, welcoming, nurturing environment during each session in order to build trust.”
Setting the space, as she called it, helps ensure that “clients feel complete — heard, seen, and validated — at every session.”
Bodywork is performed on a massage table while you remain fully clothed. After this part of the session is complete, nutrition recommendations may be discussed.
Each session lasts about 90 minutes but can be shorter. Your therapist will discuss the need for follow-up sessions with you, although there isn’t a set number of visits needed to see results.
Polarity therapy is an alternative medicine intervention that aims to balance your body’s energy to prevent and heal disease.
Sessions usually involve counseling, bodywork, and nutritional advice.
Polarity therapy is typically regulated by a state’s massage therapy board and requires certification based on 800 hours of training.
Despite being developed in 1947, research on the effectiveness of this therapy is still limited. Some studies suggest it can offer some benefits for relaxation, pain relief, and anxiety management. Still, the results aren’t conclusive.