Photo by Jay Tyrrell
For many people, the concept of therapy will be forever linked with the image of the client talking through their thoughts and feelings with a therapist or psychiatrist. Whether the therapist actively engages the client in conversation, or simply allows space for the individual’s voice to be heard uninterrupted, the potential benefits of this type of approach can be significant. Sometimes great intellectual and emotional insights can be reached. In other circumstances, just having a private and sacred space within which to vent can provide a reprieve from a client’s suffering.
While incredibly valuable, treatment that exclusively uses traditional talk therapy is often not enough. Some people find it difficult to verbalize exactly what is wrong. Others feel trapped in a cycle of ‘re-telling their story’- often quite painfully. Still others find themselves less in need of an analytical framework for understanding their problems, and more in need of visceral release and rebalancing.
While the following summary of SE is intended to give a sufficient understanding of SE basics for the purposes of explaining Focalizing, it is by no means complete. We encourage all interested readers to visit the Somatic Expriencing institute Â at http://www.traumahealing.com/ to learn more.
Developed by Dr. Peter Levine, Somatic Experiencing, or SE, looks to nature to identify and develop techniques to deal with healing human trauma. Animals in the wild are routinely subjected to traumatic experiences (think of a gazelle herd being chased by a lioness) but rarely exhibit negative long-term symptoms. SE explores their ability to ‘return to normal’ after a trauma via their innate biological mechanism to regulate and release the energies associated with traumatic experiences.
Human beings, while possessing the same innate mechanisms for rebalancing and release, often find these processes overridden by activities of the ‘modern rational brain.’ SE uses exercises in body-sensation-awareness to bypass the roadblocks set-up by the thinking mind, and tap into the innate healing ability of the body. Focalizing draws upon many techniques related to SE in treating and healing individuals.
(The following is reprinted with permission from the Foundation for Human Enrichment website, which is a domicile for Somatic ExperiencingÂ® research and training).
- SE employs awareness of body sensation to help people "renegotiate" and heal rather than re-live or re-enact trauma.
- SE's guidance of the bodily “felt sense,” allows the highly aroused survival energies to be safely experienced and gradually discharged.
- SE “titrates” experience, rather than evoking catharsis - which can overwhelm the regulatory mechanisms of the organism.
- SE helps eliminate pitfalls of re-traumatization and the spurious generation of “false memories”.
The symptoms of trauma are the result of a highly activated incomplete biological response to threat, frozen in time. By enabling this frozen response to thaw, then complete, trauma can be healed.
Authentic Process Therapy (APH) is a paradigm that was first initiated by Dr. Picucci in the mid-nineties out of his research & fieldwork at that time. Influenced by the writings of Carl Rogers, the father of Humanistic Psychology, APH integrates body, mind, and spirit (or nature) in the journey toward an experience of wholeness. This therapy is also rooted in the emerging field of Energy Psychology and new understandings of how trauma (of all kinds) affects functioning and the ability to manifest the completeness and piece of mind that we desire.
Awakening our innate intelligence and healing powers
- APH is deeply connected with the felt senses of the body and embraces our innate intelligence (or inner wisdom) to heal and guide our self-realization process. This process is addressed through a variety of healing modalities. They are drawn from psychotherapy, bodywork therapies, new understandings of physiology and the central nervous system, and cultural/spiritual traditions.
Recognizing the blind spots
- Once we have a sense of what wholeness is and what it feels like, we can begin to notice areas in which that experience is blocked for us. Perhaps we are blocked because some areas are too painful to examine and include in with the rest of our life. Some of these roadblocks might include a lack of connection with ourselves and the world around us, an absence of community or an inability to communicate with others in order to get our needs met.
Addiction (in its many forms)--which is the way many people today cover up emotional pain--is perhaps the most common wedge between us and the truth of things. However, there are countless more subtle forms of personal and cultural addiction most people never notice. They end up as roadblocks to holism because their purpose is to distract us from what’s inside of us emotionally and spiritually.
Overcoming the barriers
- Authentic Process Healing starts from an awareness of innate health and completeness, and then dissolves barriers we may have to fully experiencing this.
One very significant block is the split we believe exists between spirit (love) and
sexuality. It not only separates us from our significant others, our spouses and loved ones, but separates us from our bodies and from the natural world as well. It is a major detour on the road to holism. It adds to the repression of our shadow self (the dumping ground for the parts of our personality we disown or hide), and to the separation of the body, mind, and spirit. This can lead to shame, and poor grounding of personal energy, which are roadblocks in themselves.
Other barriers include illness, unawareness of psycho-spiritual principles, lack of respect for self and/or others, cultural pain, repressed trauma, depression and anxiety, confusing adult and childhood needs, and censoring our own inner voices, in ways that do not serve us.
The convergence of modern scientific thought with Eastern and Western naturalist healing traditions provides exciting new ground for discovery and treatment possibilities. In additional to more traditional techniques, Dr. Picucci has researched, studied, and practiced many less commonly known healing modalities. Falling under the broad umbrella of 'Energy Work', Dr. Picucci brings a down-to-earth and practical sensibility to a broad range of these alternative treatments. Over the years, he has had considerable success incorporating such tools as Insight Meditation, Constellation Work, and Wavework into his practice.