“Hakomi presents some astounding methods for getting to core material. It is well grounded in theory and revolutionary in its results.”
– Association of Humanistic Psychology
Integrating scientific, psychological, and spiritual sources, Hakomi has evolved into an elegant form of psychotherapy that is highly effective with a wide range of populations. The method draws from general systems theory and modern body-centered therapies including Gestalt, Psychomotor, Feldenkrais, Focusing, Ericksonian Hypnosis, Neurolinguistic Programming, and the work of Wilhelm Reich and Alexander Lowen. Core concepts of gentleness, nonviolence, compassion, and mindfulness evolved from Buddhism and Taoism.
Hakomi helps people change “core material.” Core material is composed of memories, images, beliefs, neural patterns and deeply held emotional dispositions. It shapes the styles, habits, behaviors, perceptions and attitudes that define us as individuals. Typically, it exerts its influence unconsciously, by organizing our responses to the major themes of life: safety, belonging, support, power, freedom, control, responsibility, love, appreciation, sexuality, spirituality, etc. Some of this material supports our being who we wish to be, while some of it, learned in response to acute and chronic stress, continues to limit us. Hakomi allows the client to distinguish between the two, and to willingly change material that restricts his or her wholeness.
“Loving presence and the healing relationship are central to Hakomi. We learn to develop an exquisite sensitivity and attunement to others – both their conscious and unconscious material – and to convey this depth of recognition. This creates a deep sense of safety and connection, and engages the “cooperation of the unconscious.” Current neuroscience is also revealing the basis for the effectiveness of mindfulness, loving presence, empathy, and other aspects of Hakomi Therapy.”
“The dynamic of mindfulness is another aspect of this foundation. When unique Hakomi techniques are integrated with mindfulness, it allows us to rapidly and safely access the unconscious beliefs and early experiences which shape our lives, relationships and self-concepts. When unconscious, this hidden material creates projections, conflict and disharmony in our interactions and inner world. Once conscious and directly experienced, these patterns are available for transformation and reintegration. Powerful emotions, memories and trauma may surface at times turn the process, and these are handled safely and effectively.”
From the Hakomi Institute’s training materials and website. (© The Hakomi Institute)
Brainspotting is a recent development of EMDR discovered by Dr. David Grand, renowned EMDR specialist and trainer. A number of years ago, Dr. Grand noticed that when an eye position was held in place, the client was able to deeply and comfortably, process painful emotional and traumatic material.
This process is similar to EMDR processing, using bilateral stimulation, but much less eye movement. Eye position provides direct access to the limbic system within the body’s central nervous system where traumatic and emotional memory are stored. The containment of the held eye position allows for safety and ease with processing difficult material. Because this process works in the reflexive areas of the brain, holding the eye position seems to serve to de-condition previously conditioned, maladaptive emotional and physiological responses.
Brainspots are discovered together as client and therapist observe the effects of eye position as the eyes move across a visual grid. Once a reaction, or reflexive movement is discovered, that spot is held, with the help of a pointer, to access and process the information stored there. Client and therapist work together in processing. Bilateral music or sound recordings may be used in conjunction with Brainspotting to enhance the processing. Brainspots are also helpful in accessing and developing internal resource states which are often used in conjunction with the processing of traumatic wounds. Developing resource states is an emotional and physiological process that can become a permanent part of a person’s sense of self.
Brainspotting can be used to process and integrate many different issues and experiences, including trauma. Often, stubborn emotional and physiological issues have roots in one or a number of traumatic events. Unprocessed and unintegrated physical and emotional trauma stays in the body as chronic tension, hypervigilance, intrusive thoughts, mood disorders, phobias and general anxiety.
Dr. David Grand and colleagues worked with many of the Sandy Hook community in the wake of the tragic school shooting. The members of the community gathered data from the more than 8 therapeutic modalities that were used to treat them. In their report, they discovered Brainspotting was the most effective treatment modality.