13 March 2007

Who are you (Really)?

What is Hakomi therapy and what are its benefits? Learn more about this relatively new method.

Most people who end up in a therapist’s room are there because of some or the other life crisis. If the therapist is competent, she/he will help you find a different perspective on the crisis, and tools to deal with it more effectively. But that is not where therapy needs to end. Or start, for that matter. Psychotherapy is about the exploration of the Self: an ever-deepening process of learning about who you really are.

Hakomi therapy offers exactly that: the name itself is a Hopi Indian word meaning: “Who am I in relationship to the many worlds around me?” Despite the exotic sounding name, there is nothing esoteric about this unique therapeutic method.

This method was developed in the late 70’s by American psychologist Ron Kurtz, and has its roots in body-centered therapies such as Reichian and Bioenergetic work, in Gestalt therapy, Focusing, NLP, and also in General Systems theory, viewing the individual as an organic, living, self-organising system.

Philosophically, this method is aligned with the principles of compassion, gentleness, mindfulness and going with the grain: offering in essence a synthesis of techniques, sound psychological theories, and universal life principles.

Hakomi differs from the more traditional view that psychotherapy is a “Talking Cure”, since in Hakomi, the total experience of the therapy client is of interest: including body posture, physical sensations, thoughts, images, fantasies, emotions and memories. These are evoked as present experience through the use of mindfulness, not merely talked about as in most other forms of psychotherapy.

State of consciousness
Mindfulness is a state of consciousness where one’s attention is turned inward in a relaxed but focused way, in order to observe what is going on inside of us right this moment, and is a central premise of the Hakomi method.

These evoked experiences provide direct access to core material, around which all of us organise our everyday experience. Core material pertains to what we learn very early in life about ourselves and the world, and this directs and informs our thought processes, how we experience emotion, what we do in order to feel safe and loved, even our body posture: our very character.

Sometimes this inhibits us, creating patterns of behaviour that may not be useful or conducive to healthy psychological functioning on many levels. Exploring core material and finding healthy alternatives in the present, can lead to a full being in the world as we really are. The Hakomi method provides the therapy client and the therapist with a gentle but powerful way to do just that.

Therapy can be a journey to explore on an ever deepening level who we really are: the Hakomi method offers a unique and extraordinary path towards that important therapeutic outcome: the integrated and even transformed Self.

Psychologists and therapists already working in the body/mind field interested in learning more about how to incorporate Hakomi and Reichian techniques and principles in their existing practice work, can contact me for info about training offered by Klaus Staudt, a certified Hakomi therapist, in Johannesburg in April 2007. - Ronelle Hart, psychologis:


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