What’s Missing

An excerpt of “What’s Missing?” from Readings in the Hakomi Method, 2012, by Ron Kurtz

Hakomi is a method for inviting unresolved experiences into consciousness and resolving them by offering new experiences of the world. The missing experience, no matter what the belief or situation that evokes it, is always a positive experience. It always provides relief or pleasure and a new, more positive sense of self. And it occurs within a sensitive, highly attuned relationship with the therapist and in some cases, with a group.

As to what kind of experiences are missing, the ones that are important to therapeutic practice are the ones involving the “social emotions”, experiences around relationship. That’s what’s missing. When I think about all the missing experiences I’ve helped evoke in clients, like safety, contact, comfort – all the positive, nourishing experiences – they are all about relationship.

All the missing experiences I’ve helped evoke in clients, like safety, contact, comfort… they are all about relationship.

Of course, they are all taking place within the relationship with the therapist and the group. That makes it part of the “social brain”, the interaction between brains. This is, in Schore’s much used term, “interactive psychobiological regulation.” The therapist and the group are providing the kind of sensitive, nourishing responses that give needed support for the development of a secure sense of self and social-emotional skills, the same exact support an infant needs from the parenting one and for the same reasons.

It may be that in order to support affect regulation in our clients, we therapists will have to cultivate a particular state of mind in ourselves, one that evokes a state of mind in our clients that the loving mother evokes in her infant. Neurologically speaking, one right hemisphere talking to another. We need to convey a calm, compassionate concern for the client. The state of mind that does best is the one sustained by a well developed ability to take pleasure in the success and happiness of the other. Call it compassion or sympathetic joy. Call it unconditional positive regard. Call it love. Call it what you will. It remains the prime responsibility of the therapist.

Open-heartedness has a unique power to effect positive change. It’s a sweet feeling too and good for one’s own mental health. Just being in that state of mind where one is present and sensitive and able to respond to the client’s emotional needs, does ninety percent of the work. The rest is the occasional technical intervention that moves the process along.

“Open-heartedness has a unique power to effect positive change.”

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