Treatments & Therapies

Psychomotor skills – treatment, effects & risks


The movement of a person is influenced by different psychological processes such as concentration or emotionality. This causal interaction is called psychomotor function.

What is psychomotor?

There are various psychomotor schools that emphasize the interplay of psychological experience and the development of perception and motor skills . The individual schools represent different assumptions as to how impaired movement sequences can arise. These concepts pursue different focal points and are also summarized under the terms mototherapy, motopedics , motopedagogy, movement therapy or movement pedagogy.

The basic assumption of psychomotricity is that the development of personality is always to be understood holistically. This means that physical and mental areas are connected and that experiences of movement must always be understood as experiences of oneself. For example, the posture of a person always says something about their mental state. This also applies to children: movements not only have an influence on their motor skills, but also on the perception of their own abilities. 

Especially in children, rational, emotional and mental processes are very closely linked. Emotions are also expressed through movement, which, for example, makes contact with children much easier.

The term “psychomotor” therefore includes the unity of motor and mental processes, the term “psychomotor” describes the promotion of development with the help of movement, which is becoming more and more widespread today. 

Ernst Kiphard is considered to be the forefather of psychomotor skills, and his range of sports for aggressive children with behavioral problems had a positive effect on their emotional development. According to Kiphard, motor abnormalities in children who suffer from behavioral problems are due to minimal cerebral dysfunction.

As a result, deficits in the area of ​​movement or perception and, as a result, hyperactivity , motor restlessness, concentration disorders or inhibited behavior occur. However, according to Kiphard, it is possible to stabilize and harmonize the personality of children and young people through motor activity. For example, Kiphard used the trampoline to train coordination and movement.

Function, effect & goals

However, Kiphard’s concept was considered too deficit-oriented and was eventually developed further, with the child’s point of view coming to the fore. New approaches emerged, such as the child-centered approach according to Meinhart Volkamer and Renate Zimmer. This is similar to Virginia Axline’s play therapy and is intended to offer the children a space for social experience and movement so that they learn to express and overcome their problems through movement.

The movement experiences are only slightly controlled and aim to strengthen the children’s self-concept. The competency-based approach believes that children who suffer from movement disorders also develop psychological problems that are intended to compensate for the lack of movement behavior. 

For example, the competence-oriented approach understands aggressiveness as an expression of a problem in the motor area. In this context, psychomotor skills can help to subsequently develop movement skills. Jürgen Seewald, on the other hand, is a representative of the understanding approach of psychomotorics. He developed so-called relationship or body themes for the children, with the help of which the cause of the problems can be identified.

Marion Esser represents an approach that is based on depth psychology. For them, movement is also inner agitation, whereby gestalt psychology, developmental psychology and psychoanalysis are the theoretical foundations. Systemic psychomotorics understands psychomotor development as adaptation to the respective social environment. Accordingly, in children who suffer from motor abnormalities, interpersonal relationships must also be checked and treated. 

The various psychomotor approaches are primarily used in child and adolescent psychiatry, whereby the use of the respective psychomotor school depends on the executing psychomotor specialist. The aim is to proceed as holistically as possible in order to be able to offer the children and young people assistance on a relatively broad level. Psychomotor therapies are often paid for by health insurance companies.

They are mainly carried out in psychomotor practices, but elements of this can also be found in the work of speech therapists, occupational therapists or physiotherapists. There are also offers in kindergartens and in school sports, but psychomotor skills are also used in special and curative education , where children and young people with physical, mental or emotional disabilities are cared for. These often show problems in the areas of cognition, communication, emotion, motor skills or sensory skills, whereby these areas can be influenced extremely positively with psychomotor measures.

In the meantime, there are also many research results that show how important perception and movement are for early childhood development, especially in the areas of cognition, social behavior, language development and emotionality. In psychomotor, for example, devices such as roller boards, balance spinning tops or pedalos are used. These appeal to balance and are very well suited to promoting children with developmental problems. 

The way in which the devices are discovered by the children is very important. Important contents of psychomotor skills are:

  • Self and body experiences such as physical expression or sensory experiences
  • Material experiences and learning about the movement
  • Social experiences such as communication with the help of movement
  • Rules games with game rules tailored to a specific situation.

Risks, side effects & dangers

Psychomotor therapy does not pose any dangers, but aims to encourage children as early as possible in order to reduce the risk of any impairments or disorders. The aim is to strengthen children’s skills and minimize risk factors.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.