Mindful Counseling for Complex Trauma: Anxiety, Shame, Stuckness
What we are about to undertake is an expedition together, a journey of discovery into the most secret recesses of our consciousness. And for such an adventure, we must travel light. We cannot burden ourselves with opinions, prejudices, conclusions — that is, with all the baggage that we have collected over the past two thousand years or more. Forget everything you know about yourself. Forget everything that you have thought about yourself. We are going to set off as if we know nothing.
~Krishnamurti, Freedom from the Known
About Hakomi Therapy
“Hakomi” is a Hopi Indian word meaning, “How do you stand in relation to these many realms?” This was their ancient way of saying “Who are you?” and is an appropriate description for this therapeutic process, a process in which therapist and client explore the complex web of relationships which form our personal identities.
Hakomi Therapy represents a new stage in integrative psychotherapy and is considered one of the few directly ‘transformative’ therapies. Originating in the seventies through collaborative work of Ron Kurtz and others, Hakomi incorporates a wide range of techniques into an elegant and comprehensive model of internal communication and change. Building from Gestalt Therapy, Gendlin’s Focusing, and Buddhism, Hakomi infuses human connection into mindfulness, instilling a present, grounded structure of attachment to Self and Others. Stages include: building trust, tolerance for proprioception/introception (internal sensation), mindfulness, development of observer-self, accessing child-states, corrective experience, and integration. Stage work varies widely from one person to the next.
“Therapy isn’t conversation … The rules of polite conversation are designed to expedite the flow of information between people, not within people…. The process of studying internal states and reactions requires something very different from conversation.”
~ Ron Kurtz (Hakomi founder)
Hakomi therapy, through gentle, non-violent collaborative/guided/dyadic mindfulness, provides present, conscious access to the subconscious and to the vital core beliefs held there.
Potential (and expected) outcomes include…
Mapping Internal Experience
Corrective Experience (memory reconsolidation)
Changing Core Beliefs, Taking in the Good
Integrating Parts of Self
Development of internal ‘Observer’ – able to notice without judgment, allow ‘what is’
The Principles of Hakomi:
“…To re-expose the patient, under more favorable circumstances, to emotional situations which he could not handle in the past. The patient, in order to be helped, must undergo a corrective emotional experience suitable to repair the traumatic influence of previous experiences…. Intellectual insight alone is not sufficient.”
~ Franz Alexander, one of the founders of psychosomatic medicine
Quotes by the founder of Hakomi Therapy, Ron Kurtz…
- Mindfulness: a relaxed, present, alert, non-judgmental, observing state through which internal organization may be studied
- Nonviolence: safe, accepting, non-forceful, cooperative exploration
- Integration: differentiation and connection of previously conflicting parts (self-other, body-mind, desire/inhibition, inner child/developed self— any of countless parts identified in the present moment when confusion or struggle arises)
- Unity: views life as a self-organizing, interdependent system containing and contained-within self-organizing, interdependent systems
- Organicity: assumes that every system is self-directing and self-organizing, and that every part we have developed has honored the preserving of ‘self’ within a particular system
- Truth: capacity to know, to name, to sit with ‘what actually is’
- Change: the trust that change is constant and the futile attempt to contain it prolongs suffering
“This method can be part of any method of psychotherapy. But it is much more than that. It is basic to all human relations. It is a natural part of the universal human endeavor to understand ourselves, to free ourselves of the inevitable suffering that follows simply from ignorance of who we truly are. It is the path taken by all who work to go beyond the half remembered hurts and failed beliefs that linger in the unexamined mind and body, hurts that act through barely conscious habits and reactions.”
“In Hakomi, we focus on bodily experiences, like sensations, emotions, tensions and movements. This focus on experience, rather than abstract notions, leads to more grounded insights and understanding. We discover the roots of psychological organization and we find meaning by working with here and now experiences. The body is alive with meaning and memory. We focus on experience, not for its own sake, but to learn from them, how we came to be who we are, and how we shall move on.”
“If you can observe your own experience with a minimum of interference, and if you don’t try to control what you experience, if you simply allow things to happen and you observe them, then you will be able to discover things about yourself that you did not know before. You can discover little pieces of the inner structures of your mind, the very things that make you who you are.”
“So, we look at people as self-organizing systems, organized psychologically around core memories, beliefs and images. This core material is at the very heart of what we have made of our lives. It creates and maintains our images of self and of our culturally acquired world. It directs our perceptions and actions. Core material expresses itself through all the habits and attitudes which make us individuals. Our feelings, actions and perceptions are continuously influenced by core material around major themes: safety and belonging; support, love and appreciation; freedom and responsibility; openness and honesty; control, power, sexuality, membership, and the social and cultural rules.”