Psychomotricity as a Psychological Concept
The concept of psychomotricity, in the broadest sense of the word, represents a close connection between the psyche (mental processes) and motorics (physical activities). It draws attention to the close link between psychological and motoric experience. There is a proverb dating back to Ancient Greece saying “a sound mind in a sound body’”. Exercise is one of the basic components of keeping in good health both from the physical and social point of view. Unfortunately, little attention is paid nowadays to motoric development and integrating physical activities into the curriculum (Hermanová, 1994). The two components are often separated, with greater focus upon the development of mental abilities, which results in an insufficient motoric and therefore also psychological development.
In a narrower sense, psychomotricity represent the sum of an individual’s physical activities, which are a manifestation of their psychological functions and their mental state; that is the motoric action arising from the area of psychological processes (perception, thinking, memory) or mental states (mood) (Blahutková et al, 2007). The link between psyche and motorics can be observed in our everyday life on each and every one of us. All movements such as a smile, a wave of a hand, express emotional processes that take place in the human mind. Imagine how your heart starts beating fast when a loved person is approaching, how the respiratory rate increases just before taking a difficult exam, how your hands sweat and knees tremble when your first date is drawing on.
At the end of the last century, the concept of psychomotricity took on a slightly different connotation (not only in connection with psychological and motoric processes). This connotation is still preserved in the concept, it has gradually become a label for physical education which puts emphasis on the pleasure from movement.
Psychomotricity as an Entertaining Education Via Motion
The origin of psychomotricity as an entertaining education can be found in the 20’s, when a therapeutic physical education for the mentally handicapped started to be performed in France. The goal of this therapeutic physical education was not performance but the pleasure from movement, on whose basis some psychological functions of the disabled patients were improving. Gradually, it developed into psychomotricity as an entertaining education not only for the ill but also for the healthy and this term is now used more widely.
Psychomotricity is a system of physical education which uses motion as an educational means. We may speak of an education via exercise. Emphasis is put not only on the development of motoric abilities and fitness of the body, but also on the psychological and social aspect of the personality of each individual. It is a form of motoric activity which stresses the enjoyment and experience of movement, not strictly performance (Blahutková, 2003). This kind of exercise should be appropriate to the level of the motoric abilities of the students. Their mental abilities and relations with other people should be also taken into consideration. In psychomotricity, the focus is on the realization of one’s own feelings and emotions. It is important to empathize with other people’s feelings and needs, to understand them and respect them, to cooperate closely with others and help them (Adamírová, 2003).
The aim of psychomotricity is above all the experience of movement, creating biopsychosocial well-being, enforcing a positive relationship with physical activities, personal growth, health, the development of motoric abilities. In the wider sense of psychomotricity, we may speak of an interconnection of physical education and personality development – not only physical but also mental and social.
Psychomotricity is related to many other scientific disciplines and is interconnected with them. Psychomotricity is an education via motion, therefore it is linked to pedagogy. It also has an effect on our personality. It often causes positive changes in the outside behavior due to its influence on the emotional side of personality. This shows a connection to psychology (Blahutková, Koubová, 1995). Another overlapping discipline is sociology, in the interaction of an individual and the group, cooperation, mutual contact, ways of communication, etc. Psychomotricity also helps to develop our fitness, balance and skillfulness. It is interconnected with physical education and also ethics, which teaches responsibility for others, fairness and mutual help. Esthetics could also be added to the list of related disciplines, the individual learns to experience beauty through motion, to express music through motion. Last but not least, there are aspects of sexuology, as some psychomotoric exercises and games help to remove barriers of shyness between the members of opposite sex in communication or direct contact. In recent years there has been a collaboration also with drama and art education (Blahutková et al, 2007).
Areas of Psychomotricity
What psychomotricity tries to achieve is not only to experience pleasure from movement. One of the aims is also to be able to understand and get to know one’s own self, to form a positive relationship with one’s environment and to be able to make contact with people who live in it. This is the way to form the basis for the constitution and maintenance of social relations throughout the whole life.
Szábová (2001) divides psychomotricity into several areas:
Neuromotorics includes fine and gross motorics, coordination of movements, bodily scheme, balance and orientation in space.
Sensomotorics is understood as the motoric action or reaction of an individual to stimuli experienced by sight, hearing, touch, smell or taste. Psychomotorics often uses musical accompaniment because children react to auditory stimuli and express their emotions spontaneously through movement.
Sociomotorics is one of the lesser known and used terms. It denotes movement, behavior, actions and reactions of a person in the family, at school, among peers, at work and in other distinctive groups and, in fact, the whole society as such.
This division is significant especially in early childhood, the particular areas start overlapping later on, they develop simultaneously and influence each other. It is not possible to separate them, on the contrary, it is necessary to make use of this multilateral influencing to the benefit of the individual or group.
According to Adamírová (2003) it is essential to get as much experience of one’s self through movement from the physiological, cognitive and emotional point of view and to be able to use it for one’s self-knowledge, self-improvement, and also behavior and actions. She distinguishes three areas of competence, which are necessary to develop.
- Area of Competence (one’s own body and self)
- Body scheme, its size, individual parts;
- Muscle tension and relaxation, interconnectedness of bodily and emotional tension;
- Stability and instability – balance;
- Composure, different stages of strain (function of internal organs);
- Space, movement in space, the control of movement;
- Feelings and emotions.
2. Area of Competence (material):
- Things and objects: natural materials, objects of daily use, equipment and tools, specific psychomotoric aids.
3. Area of Competence (social):
- Social perception;
- Making contact;
- Creation of characteristics, responsibility, readiness to help.
From the above listed areas it is evident that the social area is an inseparable component of education through motion. As Dvořáková (2002, pg 25) suggests, certain physical activities can be performed alone, however, most of them take place with a friend, in a group, sometimes in cooperation, other times in competition. Both personality traits and social relations are therefore cultivated in a natural way.
An important positive aspect of psychomotricity is that its demands can be fulfilled by anyone. The difficulty of individual exercises can always be adjusted to the level and needs of a given group. Even people who are not successful at prevalent types of sports and physical education, assert themselves well in psychomotricity. They are praised and encouraged, which is very important for them and their further attitude to physical activity (Blahutková et al, 2007). In psychomotricity, there is space for inducing pleasurable feelings and venting or removal of those negative ones that could slow down subsequent development in various areas.
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