A Brief History of Sophrology
Sophrology originated in the 1960’s in Spain and was created by Professor Alfonso Caycedo, a neuro-psychiatrist, as an attempt to complement and humanise psychiatric treatments.
Alfonso Caycedo was inspired by oriental and western techniques and philosophies to develop Sophrology concepts and techniques and create a structured methodological approach.
Professor Alfonso Caycedo was born in Colombia in 1932 and after completing his secondary level education he moved to Spain to attend university and went on to practise medicine at the University of Madrid. While on a trip to Switzerland, he met the father of phenomenological psychiatry, Ludwig Binswanger and decided to stay and study existential phenomenology, whilst working as neuropsychiatrist in Binswanger’s service.
Caycedo originally set out to find a way of healing depressed and traumatised clients by guiding them to health and happiness with the least possible use of drugs and psychiatric treatments. He journeyed extensively to study the Eastern philosophies of Yoga, Zen and Buddhism, each time viewing them within a western scientific framework. Each discipline, theory and philosophy was approached with the intention of discovering what, exactly, improved people’s health, both physically and mentally, in the fastest possible time and with lasting results.
On his return, Caycedo designed a method of healing, creating a training programme born from both Eastern and Western philosophies that took into account our modern way of life – with its speed, stress and problems. Caycedo named his method ‘Sophrology’ in 1960 and called it ‘training of the consciousness and the values of existence,’ or ‘Health & Happiness Training’. Now, after over 50 years of research, fine tuning and experimentation, he has extensive evidence of the effectiveness of the Sophrology method.
Sophrology was initially kept firmly within the field of psychiatry and medicine until a Swiss doctor, Dr Raymond Abrezol discovered its unique benefits, and brought it to the attention of the healthy public. After practising Sophrology for a short while, Abrezol began to observe a noticeable improvement in his own tennis game. As an experiment, he introduced his opponents to the method, and they began to see their own game vastly improve. He was consequently invited to coach the Swiss ski team and other Olympic athletes.
The rapid growth of Sophrology throughout the French-speaking world can largely be attributed to Dr Abrezol running training programmes for a large number of influential doctors and sports coaches, many of whom now run Training Centres throughout France. His enthusiasm and his success with athletes opened doors for Sophrology to be taught in many diverse walks of life.
There are now many Sophrology schools in French-speaking countries and also many adaptations of the original Caycedian Sophrology. Specializations include Dynamic Sophrology, Sophrology in a medical or maternity environment, Sophrology for Sport, etc. All originate from the same roots, all are based on phenomenology and all are developed according to the knowledge and experience of the Sophrologist.