I wanted to complete this Pat Ogden review before more “info” comes through that I feel compelled to share. As mentioned in my earlier review of the summit itself, one of the things I liked most about some of these spiritual psychotherapy approaches was the more collaborative methods of therapy between client and therapist. Pat Ogden was a main example of that.
Her stated belief was that you must trust your client’s inner wisdom (which the client may not be overtly aware of) to desire to heal non-harmonious aspects of themselves, so there is no need to push or force change with the client. You simply allow what needs to change to unveil itself as you work together. But you need to create a safe-haven (a safe and comfortable environment) for the work to unfold.
She believed in the principles of mindfulness and presence, meaning that mindfulness is an actual state of consciousness—where the observer and the observed are united within that state of mind; while presence is a state of beingness.
Being mindful is the ability to focus awareness within and outside the person all at same time, which is desirable at times, but it actually prevents you from being fully present in the body. Mindfulness may be more the out-of-body experience while being present, is being well-grounded and right here, right now.
Ogden’s work is a unity-focused therapy of client and therapist working together for better client outcomes. She uses language reflective of the intention of unity— lak’ech-“I am another you.” It’s a collaborative language of “we”ness in the client’s discovery process where you give the client an option, a say in what they will do together to help the client. Frame it for them in ways that are easy to understand, and then give them the chance to say yes or no, let’s pursue that suggested exploration or let’s wait a week or so before we do.
Her focus is on holism. Her Sensorimotor Psychotherapy goal is to harness the wisdom of the body to liberate human potential, and the body holds tremendous potential for wisdom. She simply says to honor the intelligence of the body. Watch how a client is presenting herself. What is the body language stating that the spoken words are not? Hunched shoulders means she is holding fear….so ask about that body message you are seeing. “Why are you sitting so scrunched together? Are you hiding within yourself or unconsciously defending yourself from something you perceive around you?…Is there something you are afraid of—something you fear about this situation or about exploring those memories? Let’s get it out and look at it. Let’s see if it truly is threatening or just seemed that way for awhile.” (paraphrased)
She says one of the greatest gifts you can ever give is helping the client discover important things about themselves—what is meaningful to them. Her goal is to help reveal the client to themselves—it’s all about self-discovery.
Ogden avoids diagnosis of a client and especially labeling them with a disorder because they too readily identify with the diagnosis and then become it. Her stated example was Dissociative Identity Disorder…. It may not be a good thing to call someone this. It limits them—limits how they perceive themselves.
She believes in non-violent approaches. Don’t try to force a client toward an outcome. They resist and it may not be the right outcome anyway. Try another way if possible—make it more exploratory. A lot of this involves more “undoing” than doing—unlearning old ways of thinking and being, to allow new ones to emerge.
In her practice mindfulness is a critical skill that supports our way of being, and supports the importance of presence. When we are focused on our bodies by using our minds to assess what we are feeling in the moment, and when we examine how we are executing the actions that we take in our lives, it establishes the principle of self-engagement. These are all building blocks of the “being present” experience.
Teaching clients how to pay attention to their own bodies and to learn to recognize their own body cues is important for recognizing what the body is telling them it actually needs for optimum mental and physical health. The client might misinterpret a current situation as to whether or not it is threatening, so you look for the natural body cues as to what their body, not their mind, is saying about it?
Helping clients look for their own body-reactions in situations helps them learn what is really happening to them as opposed to what is simply being triggered by a childhood memory, etc. How we organize our experience—those earliest patterns of inner organization—are often how we first see a situation; and it starts with how we felt about a similar situation in our childhood—like whether or not we felt helplessness or fearfulness in that similar situation.
She believes that if we go in deeply enough to the inner depths of the client, the client’s natural higher consciousness will spontaneously reorganize them toward health. Uncovering what is emotionally hiding within the client and preventing them from realizing their wholeness allows them to self-reveal and then to self-heal.
She simply becomes a container for love for the client—holding them in acceptance and process until their health is revealed.
Interesting lady, Pat Ogden. Good interview.
Thanks Sounds True for this psychotherapy/spirituality summit.