The Hakomi Method of Mindful Somatic Psychotherapy was created by the internationally renown therapist and author, Ron Kurtz, with the assistance of a core group of his colleagues. A synthesis of philosophies, techniques and approaches, Hakomi has its own artistry, form, and organic process. The method draws from general systems theory and body-centered therapies such as Reichian work, Bio-energetics, Gestalt, Psychomotor, Feldenkrais, Structural Bodywork, Ericksonian Hypnosis, Focusing, and Neurolinguistic Programming. Hakomi’s core principles of gentleness, compassion, mindfulness, and going with the grain, stem from Buddhism and Taoism. Over time, Hakomi has evolved into a complex, elegant and highly effective form of psychotherapy.Hakomi is the therapeutic expression of a specific set of Principles: Unity, Mind/Body/Spirit Holism, Organicity, Mindfulness and NonViolence. These tenets inform every aspect of the work. The first concern of Hakomi trainers is to encourage our students to understand and work within these Principles, to make them deep and consistent with who they are and how they work. For students, this means a heart-felt, long-term commitment to their own growth, both personal and professional. We support students in finding their own style and creativity in the unique application of their work. The goal is to turn out high-quality, caring therapists who are as dedicated to the full cognizance of their own processes as they are to understanding of others.
Hakomi helps people change core material. Core material is composed of deeply-held emotional attitudes, memories, images, neural patterns and beliefs. This material expresses itself through the styles, habits, behaviors and attitudes that shape us as individuals. Our feelings, bodies, perceptions and actions are continually guided by core material around themes such as safety, belonging, support, love, appreciation, independence, freedom, responsibility, openness, control, power, sexuality, and spirituality. Some of this material supports our being who we wish to be, while some of it — learned in response to difficult situations — continues to limit us. Hakomi allows the client to distinguish between the two and to willingly modify any material that restricts their wholeness.
In pursuing this material, the Hakomi Method follows a certain general outline. First we work to build a therapist-client relationship that maximizes safety, respect and the cooperation of the unconscious. With a good working relationship established, we then help the client focus on and study how they organize experience. It is in the way each individual organizes experience that core material exerts influence and reveals itself.To begin this study, we establish and use a distinct state of consciousness called Mindfulness. Mindfulness is characterized by relaxed volition, a gentle and sustained focus of attention inward, heightened sensitivity, and the ability to notice and name the contents of consciousness.The heart of the Method is the precise study of the client’s current experience, as a way to discover how their core material is organized. These experiences are either naturally occurring, or deliberately and gently evoked by having the client participate in carefully-designed experiments. For example, the client might be asked to allow and carefully notice whatever responses happen inside them while making a certain gesture or while listening to a statement said by the therapist. Once felt within the client’s being, the core material can then be studied, processed, and transformed.The basic method, then, is three-fold: (1) to establish a relationship in which it is safe for a client to be mindful; (2) to notice or evoke experiences that lead to the discovery of organizing core material; and (3) to provide the opportunity for this core material to be transformed. All else is done in support of this process.
The experiences and core material of the client are processed through three different state-specific methods: (1) assisting the release and satisfaction of strong emotions and bound energy; (2) providing missing experiences for the Inner Child and other specific Self-States of being; and (3) processing core beliefs in mindfulness, acquiring meaning of the experiences to help the client emerge with a new mode of being to practice in everyday life.Hakomi is effective and appropriate in all kinds of therapeutic situations, such as with individuals, couples, families, groups, movement, and body-work. It is suitable for crisis work and psychological maintenance, and it finds its full potential in the processes of growth, both personal and transpersonal, when we are committed to moving beyond our limits.
By Ron Kurtz,
Edited by Ella Solin & Joanna Shandro.