Final Mention of the Psychotherapy and Spirituality Summit

Before I start the new year of 2018, I want to wrap a few more of the speakers from the 2017 Psychotherapy & Spirituality Summit mentioned previously.dianeheller.jpg

I also found these folks very interesting:

Diane Poole Heller, PhD, who often worked with Peter Levine on attachment theories and trauma resolution—especially working on relationship trauma, was very worth hearing.

She claims that attachment template starts in utero…it is the earliest blueprint for our sense of relationship and how we “attach” to others, which in this sense is the birth mother.

Each attachment style requires a different kind of interface with the client to work through it.

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The four attachment styles are secure attachment, avoidant attachment, ambivalent attachment, and disorganized attachment.

Secure attachment:  Biologically designed in all of us. It is the ideal of what constitutes security and safety—this is the baseline of desired attachment—feeling protected and loved, playfulness, confident. Have a capacity to trust, and this is when we feel accepted for who we are. The ideal state.

Avoidant attachment: One of parents may be distant and unattached or unapproachable. When this occurs there is not as much development of the baby’s right brain–the child seems to be living in an isolated bubble of existence.  The child becomes more independent and reliant on self rather than others because s/he had to be this way to survive. As adults, the person tends to dismiss relationships and feel more isolated in life—became more ambivalent toward others. Couldn’t relax into love because they were waiting for the rug to be pulled out from under them—hyper-alertness. As an adult they tend to avoid disappointment that felt inevitable in a relationship–so they avoid relationships.hellerblurb.jpg

Ambivalent attachment is being too focused on others. Too dependent on others for sense of well-being and acceptance–too clingy–too needy–feeling too weak to make it alone.

Disorganized attachment: This style is the result of parents who do “paradoxical injunction” with the child—the “Come here! No, go away!” “I love you—I can’t stand you.”  “You are so good. You are so bad.”  The child may be in a double-bind of never being able to please the parent or to know which behavior is the correct one that is rewarded rather than punished because rewards and punishments are confused to the point of not knowing if intimacy is a good thing or a bad thing. Is it pleasant or painful? Or is it both?

Heller cites a collaborative treatment method for trauma therapy that involves healing attachment issues, using Levine’s somatic trauma resolution, the Diamond approach of psychology mixed with spiritual inquiry, and the New Autonomic NS Understanding by Steven Porge, along with the latest innovations in neuroscience.

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grof6.jpgThe one other presenter I will mention from that summit is Stanislov Grof who still is one of the most influential transpersonal realm explorers of the last 40 years. The transpersonal realms deal with ordinary and non-ordinary states of reality.

Stan Grof is far too important to contain in a paragraph or two here, but he is one of the main psychiatrists who explored the alternate reality experiences of LSD, shamanic trance, Kundalini activation, Near-death experiences, possessions states, channeling other spirits, etc.

At the end of the 20th century he helped to give those extra-sensory experiences a sense of legitimacy and professional acknowledgment. The bonafide mystical experience was his holy grail of inquiry and exploration. He made it a mainstream exploration for psychiatrists.grofquote2.jpg

Holotropic states of consciousness became his life’s work, and he and his wife Christina, created the “holotropic breath work” treatment to substitute for the psychedelic drugs of mescaline, LSD, or ayahuasca experience.

He still offers training in some of those techniques and provides great historical research into non-ordinary reality.

Thanks again Sounds True for allowing me to listen to these presenters for free!

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Some Comments on Pat Ogden, PhD, from the “S & P Summit”

After reviewing some of my notes taken from that Psychotherapy patogdan.jpgand Spirituality Summit last month, I wanted to highlight Pat Ogden’s approach to treating clients as one that was holistically attractive for many reasons.

I’m not a psychologist, so much of the content and many of the references that these presenters were describing were new to me. Evidently one big influence on Pat Ogden’s professional life was Ron Kurtz who was the pioneer behind the Hakomi method of therapy.

This method sounded so similar to the spiritual approach that on some level of your being, your body/mind/spirit knows what it needs and is working hard to bring that need to your conscious attention—you simply have to listen and allow it to show you what would help to reorganize your health.

ronkurtz.jpgSo here is more information on Ron Kurtz and the Hakomi method:

( http://www.psychotherapy.net/interview/ron-kurtz-hakomi-therapy )

“Ron Kurtz:  Hakomi uses several particular, unique approaches to helping people study themselves.

We believe–or I believe, anyway–that self-study, as it’s practiced even in the East, is about reducing the unnecessary suffering that comes from not knowing who you really are. In fact, Hakomi means, “Who are you?” So, the way we do it is to establish a safe relationship–a “bubble,” we sometimes call it–within which the therapist helps the client feel comfortable, safe, and cared for.

Serge Prengel (the interviewer): So it’s really “Who are you?” in the sense of how you organize your experience.

RK: Yes, and how you do it unconsciously, automatically—things that go on, as John Lennon would say, while you’re doing something else. There are wonderful new books about the adaptive unconscious, and that’s an essential part of my thinking.

SP: That most of the processes happen unconsciously, and that there’s a reason behind that.

RK: Yes. There’s usually a habit that was learned as an adaptation to a situation, and these habits are not necessarily verbalized or even made aware; we have to bring them into consciousness.

SP: So that’s very much related to that notion that Hakomi is about, “Who are you?” And by creating the experiment, you give the person a chance to actually realize the belief that they carry inside.

RK: Sometimes they call it “self-discovery.” Assisted self-discovery–that’s how I like to think of it.

SP: That’s a very different approach from the more medical-oriented model of pathology.

RK: Yes, it’s totally not a pathological model. It’s a model of, “You want to study yourself? I’ll help you.”

Here’s a YouTube of Kurtz explaining it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=11&v=rcRda7-tsXU

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I guess my comment on this Hakomi method is that it reminded me of the NLP approach coretransform.jpgchampioned by the Andreas (Connirae, Tamara and Steve) called “Core Transformation” where the NLPer takes a client deeper and deeper into what his body says would make him reach a Core State, such as to feel at peace, or to feel loved, or to feel okay, or to feel a sense of oneness with all.

It involves digging layer by layer into the question “What would make you feel closer to this desired state” as they explore the client’s present undesired feeling as opposed to unrealized but desired feeling that would improve the client’s life.  It’s a bit like peeling an onion down to its core point and then doing “soul-parts recovery and reintegration” for the client, which another technique frequently used in hypnosis, NLP, and shamanic healing.

And it’s also far too complicated a process to elaborate on further now, but basically it involves listening more fully and closely to your own body and mind telling you what it really needs and wants in your life to improve your health condition—mentally or physically, or both.makeyoufeel.jpg

So overall, the therapist’s focus is less about the standard clichéd line of: “How does that make you feel?” and more along the line of: “How do you WANT to feel, and what would you need to do or to receive, to feel that way?”

Anyway, my notes on Ogden extended beyond the Kurtz reference, but I’ll have to do it in parts or this will go way too long. But overall, I was impressed with Ogden’s presentation and hoped that others would study her approach to more holistic therapy.

Why Hear the “Psychotherapy and Spirituality Summit”

I watched/listened to the online conference listed above for 10 days.psych-spirit-final_1.png There were a total of 30 individual one-hour-plus sessions provided by 30 different presenters.

To untrained me who loves seeing the integration of both subjects into this unified psycho-spiritual approach to helping people, I think this methodology is extremely important in evolving psychotherapy for clients: to focus on ourselves as Spiritual beings simply trying to make sense of the world around us while determining our working relationship to it, to ourselves, and to each other.

There were some excellent speakers/practitioners participating in this summit; and the 30 individual sessions were totally worth hearing for those dedicated to listening within the allotted 24-hour, free-listening option, but I personally would not pay $300 for the DVD set, although some folks might. If you are interested, here it is: ( https://www.soundstrue.com/store/psychotherapy-and-spirituality-summit?sq=1&utm_source=bronto&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=C171108-PASParticipant10&utm_content=Welcome+to+Day+10+of+The+Psychotherapy+and+Spirituality+Summit#jumplink-buy )

Screenshot2017103021.27.01However, after listening to all of these practitioners and their own takes on how each one integrated spirituality into a psychotherapy practice, I can also personally say that there were some psychotherapists I would readily hear further in discussions or even in a personal session, and then there were some folks that I wouldn’t want to sit across from at lunch and have to listen to more than a sentence or two. Authenticity or falseness came across loud and clear with these folks in an hour-long session of them talking about what they do and how they do it.

This leads me to one point of my posting here: Not all psychotherapists are equal in spiritual depth and professional therapy skills. Those who were genuinely deep vessels of Spirit and who could relate readily to an audience and to their clients, were amazing and felt wonderfully aware, and, in my opinion, were likely helpful to a client.

Others, …well, …I couldn’t even handle listening to them for more than 10 to 15 minutes without thinking that they must be absolutely terrible with clients and simply taking a client’s money by extending session after session with little intentional progress or problem resolution for the client.  So if you are considering personal therapy, do your research into well-recommended therapists—and I’d look for client recommendations of whether or not this therapist helped the person make better sense of her life.

The second point I would like to make was: I personally liked the folks who talked about a ‘collaborative’ interaction allowing the client and therapist to work together to determine the healing direction for that person, rather than those therapists who acted more rigid and maintained an authoritarian relationship to their client.

A therapist’s job should be to help the client discover how best to help themselves, and many presenters taught clients self-empowerment as a major aspect of their sessions. Some folks actually stated that was their goal—to teach the client how to constructively frame life for themselves for future reference.

The Sounds True producer and moderator, Tami Simon, was great. She asked pertinent follow-up questions, pulled the more spacey folks back to reality and tried to get specifics about what they were explaining and HOW that approach applied to a psychotherapy practice—made each one elaborate and provide anecdotal evidence on how this approach actually helped their clients.p&s summit2.jpg

There were many approaches to these two main subjects of integrating psychotherapy and spirituality with differing techniques pertaining to how each therapist conducts their own practice. Every therapist was unique in some way from the others—and some were quite radical in their approach to helping a client, and even in how they framed the therapy experience for the client.

Overall, I felt it was enlightening to hear so many different takes on what makes a person human and how that humanness is to be explored and assisted in today’s world. To me the layperson, integrating spirituality into psychotherapy is recognition of our wholeness as soul-based incarnations on this often chaotic planet, and I feel this is a very good direction for the future of psychology in general.

(Hint for the future in my blog: I needed to mention the summit itself first, to then post additional subjects pertaining to those individual summit sessions in the near future.)

Generalizing Specialists

One might think I was referring to the medical profession with this title, and in a sense I guess I am because I was reading a bit on the schism between Humanistic Psychology and Transpersonal Psychology when the bells went off in my head.

I’ve always been a fan of Dr. Abraham Maslow—the self-actualizHumanistsation guru of the last century. While reading a summation of his work and early mentors, I recognized certain well-established names in the psychology profession, especially Dr. Carl Rogers as the one of the primary founders of Humanistic Psychology which was considered in some circles as the third branch of 20th century psychology with Freud’s Psychoanalytical approach and Skinner’s Behavioral approach being the other two branches.

That’s all well and good, but again, what’s the application here?

I had just read about Ken Wilber’s critique of the Transpersonal Psychology approach and preference for his own Integral Psychology approach (everybody has an angle), and my mind shifted back to my early college days when I pyramidonce thought I wanted to be a psychologist. All these offshoots of mainstream psychology weren’t even mentioned back then or I might have chosen a different career-path because I’ve always been fascinated by the workings of the human mind and during my early college days thought that course of study would be an amazing odyssey for personal and professional expansion.

So I took a few courses in that designated “PSYCHOLOGY” pursuit as defined by the university that I had attended. And what did I find?

The professors who taught all the courses in that university’s psych department were some of the strangest, most unsociable, unlikable people I had ever met. After a semester immersed in that influence, I changed my major to Art. But head connectedin hindsight, I should have just changed schools if this subject matter had truly interested me. You know—it’s those things you know NOW that you didn’t know THEN….. like: Authority figures aren’t really authorities. They just pretend to be ones.

Back in my early adulthood, I wondered how any student of psychology could possibly be trained by people who themselves were teetering at the very edge of sanity?

Those instructors who seemed to be in charge of judging normalcy in society and the interacting members of such seemed to be themselves standing near the very periphery of normal, interactive social behaviorIF they ever claimed to occupy that location at all. It would seem that during my early years in college the collective WE were all being categorized and judged by society’s ostracized social misfits who had their defensive shields set high and their adolescent vendettas ready to avenge.maze runners

It boggled the idealized mind—at least it boggled mine. Those in the psych department at my university had Ph.Ds in statistics, testing, rats (maze-runners), research documentation, and abnormal behaviors—that means they were primarily Behavioralists.

Where was the Humanistic Psychology or the Transpersonal Psychology back then? Where was even the broader field of Social Psychology at that university? It didn’t exist THERE at the time even though it had been around since the 1950’s; meaning that those who were training budding Psychologists at that university were training students like a Dermatologist might train a Digestive Specialist. You teach what you know, and if you don’t KNOW it—you don’t teach it.

pool in headThe point being for this post (finally) is that even in today’s broader minded and more main-streamed social-psychology movements, practicing psychologists and psychiatrists have specialties. Psychology is NOT a one-size-fits-all profession. Behavioralists are NOT Psychoanalysts are NOT Humanists.

And because all these particular specialties are off-shoots of that larger Psychology field, there is little agreement among the competing branches as to what the tree-trunk looks like, or from which transplanted graft they first emerged, or which branch needs the most sunshine to grow the best humans.

So when people say the state of Mental Health is presently in disarray, it comes as no surprise to me since the main profession can’t even decide what constitutes normalcy in a world of striving individualists and constantly-merging, world-wide cultures.

I’m giving notice to ALL Universities: Please …for all of our sakes,… hire some Humanistic Psychology instructors for the next batch of yearning psychologists, so they aren’t taught by the apoplectic maze-runners that taught during my bachelors degree because a society is only as good as the models that it holds in esteem.

schools of Psych