By Heidi Redlitz
There are 7,000 practicing sophrology therapists in Europe but just one in San Diego. A native of France and current Solana Beach resident, Veronique Benchimol is San Diego’s first credentialed, certified Sophrologist.
Defined as “a science of consciousness in harmony,” Sophrology was founded in 1960 by Dr. Alfonso Caycedo, a Spanish neuropsychiatrist who sought to combine Eastern and Western techniques and philosophies related to the mind and body.
“The overall objective of Sophrology is to restore your body, mind and spirit, by acknowledging all your sensations as positive, leading you to reestablish harmony in your life,” says Benchimol.
Sophrology is essentially a training tool that encourages the mind and body to handle life’s immediate and long-term stresses. It has three specialized fields: clinical, sports and education, and stress prevention and personal development. Benchimol specializes in the latter.
Through her 10 years of experience conducting individual and group sessions, Benchimol has helped athletes, students, expectant mothers, and individuals striving for self-development and stress management. Because results are both immediate and lasting, Benchimol’s patients come to her for both short and long-term goals.
A session with Benchimol typically lasts 45 minutes and can be conducted one-on-one or in a group setting. After a 10-minute dialogue, Benchimol incorporates specific breathing exercises with slow movement, meditation and visualization. The session ends with a short dialogue in which Benchimol hears how the individual experienced the session.
“The therapy leads the person to recreate harmony between their physical sensations and their mind,” says Benchimol.
The necessary state for a sophrology session is at the border between awakening and sleep, Benchimol notes. It is intended to follow the principle of objective reality, so students see things as they really are and not as the mind and body interprets them.
“In a session, I would ask person to consciously acknowledge what they’re thinking and feeling right now, and do not judge,” says Benchimol.
Though it can address medical issues, Sophrology has no religious connotation and should not replace any medical treatment, Benchimol says. It is strictly a well-rounded approach to health and well-being, meant to complement other treatment programs.
Such emphasis on balance is what attracted Benchimol to the field. She came across Sophrology over 15 years ago, at a very stressful time.
“During this period, I was questioning myself about the meaning of my life, not only as a mother but also as a woman and a professional. I always believed in the unbreakable body-mind connection, so I searched for a way to find a balance between my body and my mind.”
After coming into contact with a family friend, who was the principal of a Sophrology school in Alsace, France, she interviewed and joined his program. Benchimol then graduated in 2002 from the Alsace Sophrology School, and in 2004 from the World Federation of Caycedian Sophrology. She relocated from to San Diego in 2009 and opened her practice in May 2013.
Though Sophrology has grown rapidly in popularity throughout Europe, now Benchimol hopes that the San Diego community will embrace this technique of mind-body consciousness.
Veronique Benchimol, Sophrology Coach
P.O. Box 8830
Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067