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Refined Hakomi

By Roger Langmaid

We are especially fortunate to be participants studying, training in and practising the Refined Method of Hakomi which Ron Kurtz continued to develop until his death in 2011. The refinements were not only the addition of new practices and emphasis but also the leaving behind of some practices such as character theory, that Ron felt the refined method had outgrown.

“Since the early 90’s, when I resigned as director of the Hakomi Institute, I have continued to refine the method and to teach these refinements in workshops and trainings along with a few trainers who have studied and worked with me the last fifteen years or so.” (1)

Ron KurtzRon moved the method away from being confined to professionals or institutions.

“Over the years, my vision of the method has evolved. You’d expect that over forty years. It’s evolved not only in its fine detail, but also in a larger sense. I see the method now more as a natural process, not something very complicated. I see it as a way someone with developed skills for caring and relating can assist someone who has the courage and intent to seek a happier way of being through self-knowledge.” (2 )

Ron lists the original Hakomi components and later refinements of practice in his writings. (1)

Perhaps the most significant refinement of all is loving presence, as over technique and method Ron stresses the importance of our relationships, our ability to be with each other in ways that truly support our own study and healing.

“I realized during one mind-opening session that my own state of mind (or state of being) was the most important aspect of the healing relationship. I called it loving presence and began teaching it as the first and most important thing to learn. It was about how one creates that state of mind and what it means to be present with the facts of every moment.” (1)

Before his death Ron acknowledged those who had remained with him and practiced the Refined Method by declaring them his legacy holders.

“So much of Hakomi is an expression of a personal spirit, a way of being. I believe much of that spirit was lost to those who took a different path. The original inspiration has been filtered through too many generations of Hakomi teachers and trainers whose connection to me was broken years ago. Hakomi is no longer a single coherent method. It has mutated into different species, one taught by the Hakomi Institute, another by the trainers and teachers who continued to study and work with me.” (1)

1. The Esalen Hakomi Group Handbook Appendix 1. Evolving vision Ron Kurtz
2. Talk on the refined method by Ron Kurtz – Ireland 2009 transcribed by Trudy Walter

Assisting in Hakomi

By Roger Langmaid

Those of us training in Hakomi become familiar with the role of assisting the therapist and client during a session. This practice of using assistants is one of the features that Ron Kurtz brought to the method that remains outside of many traditional private therapist – client practices.

“I now have trained many assistants – it’s a very good way to involve people and teach them the method. I even use assistants in private practice, there are many things you can do with a client when you have assistants that you can’t do when you’re alone with a client.”(1)

Ron KurtzOne function of assisting is for us, with the therapists consent, to offer our own care and loving presence to the client. Ron talks about this:

Another thing I introduced into the method, a long time ago was the use of assistants. Here’s how they assist when a client experiences a painful emotion as an outcome of an experiment. They offer comfort. If it’s accepted they provide it. Sometimes it’s just a hand on a clients arm or shoulder. Sometimes it’s being held in someone’s arms for a while. That’s the second thing I do when an experiment evokes a painful emotion, give the client the opportunity to be touched or held. Almost always it’s my assistants that do that. When they do, like me they remain silent.” (2)

Assistants may also be asked by the therapist to support the client by taking over – another of the unique Hakomi practices. The therapist may offer the client that either their inner verbal statements or physical experiences such as tensions or movements be taken over or supported. This is often best done using assistants. Ron talks about the value of taking over:

“Taking over is a way to offer a person a chance to relax, to give up some effort. Even when you are taking over a thought the person has in reaction to a probe, by giving someone else the expression of the thought, that’s something the person need not do. More accurately it is the parts that operate from an involuntary place that that give up the effort. When that happens, the person often begins to feel what was hidden from consciousness.”(3)

Having the client work within a group setting with assistants can itself have a significant impact. Discovering and revealing painful material to others can be healing in itself. For many of us, part of the missing experience is the lack of recognition, understanding or companionship in those painful moments of our life. The practice of having other people involved purely as witnesses in loving presence is often therapeutic for the client.

“Assistants can help contain the process when strong emotions are being expressed. With assistants there is a semi public aspect to the therapy. The process is being witnessed. It’s not just therapist and client. It’s happening in a group of some size, from three or four to a whole group of people. That has a powerful effect on the client mind. You have told your story and others have heard it.”(2)

Assisting is one of the best ways we become trained in the practice of Hakomi, by being right there in the process with the client and therapist. Our own sympathetic loving presence is naturally aroused when we get to witness others self exploration and work.

1. The Esalen Hakomi Group Handbook Appendix 1. Evolvi ng vision Ron Kurtz
2. Overview Talk on the Hakomi Method Ireland 2009 Ron Kurtz
3. Talk given in Tokyo Training 2001 Ron Kurtz

Add Hakomi events to your calendar

Never miss a Hakomi event again.

Consider adding the Vancouver Hakomi calendar to your personal calendar.

With Google or any other calendar program that supports iCal, you can add a calendar using the following URL:

The specific instructions vary depending on your email program. Try searching Google or the email help for instructions on how to add a friend’s calendar to yours.

If you have any challenges, email for help.