Sometimes our light goes out but is blown again into flame bij an encounter with another human being.Albert Schweitzer
When the warmth of your own ‘light’ can no longer be felt
It seems so easy to answer the questions, who am I and what do I want in yourself. But believe me, it is not. Most of the answers you had already given yourself turn out to be inadequate and often are answers that you once adopted from someone else, your parents, the family you belong to, the church, the community where you grew up, etc. Only when you get older or when a crisis arises in your life do these fundamental questions seem to arise and shine through the ‘cracks’ of your complaints. Then you seek help and support to help you through this process, to get to know yourself, to face yourself in what lies ahead to be liberated.
To know something and not to know what
Last week I had a first session to get acquainted with a young man, looking for guidance and support in his quest for who he is and what he wants. Questions that almost everyone who registers at the practice carries with them. Not everyone states them directly and consciously, but they usually underlie why they seek help and support. It is often the complaints such as; feelings of depression, conflict, burnout, fatigue or listlessness, difficulty entering into and / or maintaining relationships, which cover these questions. He was disappointed in mainstream mental health care. Told that he had experienced the contact as ‘cold’. Didn’t feel seen in who he is and what he wants. He said that somewhere he ‘knew’ that there was something going on in his youth and childhood that was very decisive for who he eventually became at this moment. Something that seems to be beyond the reach of his consciousness. No conscious memories of trauma or disruptive events. Just that feeling and that inner turmoil. To know something and not to know about it.
Primal wounding is at the root of where we have lost contact with ourselves
Early childhood ‘trauma’ lies at the root of where we have lost touch with who we really are. In my previous blog article I wrote that we are made and destined to form relationships. A relationship with ourselves and the relationship with our environment. When this need (which is vital) is in some way obstructed or damaged, there is trauma and thus a disruption or injury to our human ability to be who we are. Without this injury, we would be able to form healthy relationships, have healthier defenses in our physical body, set healthier boundaries, and when our lives become unbalanced, restore them.
Calmness, courage and wisdom
Mind you … I am not hereby saying that we would not be able to get sick or experience problems in our lives. But with a healthy ability to relate to ourselves and our environment, we are able to discern where we can “reach out and desire” and where to avoid and protect or respect ourselves. Beautifully expressed in the following prayer.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference..The Serenity Prayer is a prayer written by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr
My personal journey in psychosynthesis
I got to know this serenity, courage and wisdom myself in my own psychosynthesis journey. A journey in which I was constantly and still am confronted with the challenges that life presents me. Every time I can take the next step in my own process towards more authenticity and freedom. Freedom to be who I am and make conscious choices in what I want. Because it is not self-evident that our I and our will are free to choose and live life as we would like. Here, too, primal wounding is at the basis and influences the development of our ego to be who we really are and our will to want consciously and in freedom. When serenity, courage and wisdom are linked to a healthy and free self and a healthy and free will, then we can relate to life as it appears to us and with a healthy self we can maintain and / or restore the balance in it. .
Primal wounding is the basis of a lot of personal and social suffering and inability
Based on scientific and empirical research in recent years, as well as important contributions from researchers, therapists and writers such as Bessel van der Kolk, Peter Levine, Dan Siegel, Gabor Matè, Franz Ruppert and many others, it is becoming increasingly clear that trauma is the root cause of much personal and social ‘suffering’ and incapacity. Then it cannot be otherwise then that primal wounding should also form the basis of therapy and guidance. And that is not always the case. Even when I started my personal psychosynthesis process and psychosynthesis training, there was not always the focus on trauma that it should have. Psychosynthesis not only has an ‘escape route’ downwards, but also upwards. And there is a pitfall that is not strange to me either.
Psychotrauma work by Franz Ruppert IoPT
After my training in Psychosynthesis, I continued to study working with primal wounding, where I became acquainted with the work, theory and method of Franz Ruppert. His work has brought the importance of primal wounding back to the forefront in my work as a psychosynthesis therapist. I have seen and experienced in my own process and in that of my clients how important it is to really face yourself, really meet yourself where you were injured and where you actually lost contact with yourself. Surviving instead of living. Franz Ruppert and his IoPT have made a hugely important contribution to this, a theoretical framework and a proven (constellation) method in working with trauma.
Who or what is in charge
Those who know me a little better as a person, but also as a colleague, know that I can sometimes let myself be carried away by my own enthusiasm or that of others. This enthusiasm leads somewhere and usually also from somewhere. That’s the way it goes with movement. And in itself there is nothing wrong with that mobility as long as there is someone or something in me who can control and guide this mobility. Psychosynthesis calls this the inner observer or the inner conductor. In Ruppert’s theory, you could attribute this to the healthy I. I have noticed that in my attitude as a psychosynthesis therapist I also made a movement towards the work, the theory and the method of others. There is nothing wrong with that in itself, unless the theory and the method are leading in the guidance of my clients. Then the process is no longer led by the ‘inner conductor’ (a free me), but by one of the orchestra members himself. Then the method becomes leading and the client subordinate to the method.
Back to the center
When I noticed this movement in myself in working with clients in practice I felt (usually through an experience of resistance) that it was time to return to the ‘middle’, to my inner observer. To be able to oversee what is going on, what movement I am making and how I relate to and want to relate to it. I rediscovered how Psychosynthesis distinguishes itself from many other schools of thought within the various psychotherapies and thus also distinguishes itself from the regular mental health care offer. Psychosynthesis is not a method!
Psychosynthesis and Trauma/Primal wounding
I remembered how I first became acquainted with the work of John Firman and his partner Ann Gila years ago, two psychosynthesis therapists who did a lot of research in the 1990s into the influence of trauma on our personal development. They studied, collected and viewed the work and research that was available at the time from the perspective of Psychosynthesis. A vision that allows the client and his or her process to be leading and thus shows, among other things, how psychosynthesis differs from other therapeutic trends. They write about this:
However, keep in mind that Psychosynthesis therapy denotes an overall orientation to the therapeutic process and is not a particular technique or methodology. It is rather a context within which any and all appropriate methods may be employed, depending on the training of the therapist. Foreground here is not technique, but the unique person of the cliënt.Source: ‘The Primal Wound’, John Firman and Ann Gila, 1997
The empathic relationship
So it is not the method or the theory that should be leading, but the client himself. The Psychosynthesis therapist maintains a so-called ’empathic relationship’ with the client. A relationship that serves as a ‘channel’ in which the client can be mirrored in his own life force and inner wisdom. A channel in which the client can face himself or herself and can meet himself in who he or she really is. Facing themselves in both ‘depth and height’. The therapist has confidence in the client’s own healing capacity and autonomy and mirrors this as long as the client can’t see it yet and experience this in himself. Ultimately, the therapy will aim at enabling the client to restore this trust and healing (healthy) relationship with him/herself so that he or she can reclaim the autonomy, authenticity, inner freedom and vitality to which he or she was injured long ago.
The process of resonance
This empathic relationship is a foundation for consciously deploying and using ‘resonance’. Mind you …. resonance is always there, it is a natural phenomenon. The difference is that we consciously use and experience it. Resonance is a process in which we become attuned to the same wavelength. A process that also plays an important role in working with primal wounding and the constellation method of setting up an intention. Ruppert has described this resonance process in detail in his work. Psychosynthesis works with the same principle of attuning to yourself and the other. A vibration of a certain frequency calls up the vibration of the same frequency and tunes to it with the other. This makes it possible to empathize with the different experiences of the other.
Just as afraid of the light as of the dark
When this empathic relationship is present in therapy, the injured layers in the client can be activated and ‘touched’ and the pain and injury from the past brought into consciousness and ‘relieved’ and healed in the here and now. Please note … that it is activated can sometimes be too much for the client. It is important as a therapist to take seriously the survival mechanism that then becomes palpable and visible. Activating trauma demands a lot from both the client and the therapist! And … not only the injured layers can be activated in the empathic relationship, healthy and positive experiences and qualities can also be activated. And sometimes the client is just as afraid of the light as of the dark!
When you reconnect with your own ‘flame’
By becoming healed I mean that the wound, the trauma, can be brought within reach of the empathy of the client himself. The empathic relationship with the therapist only serves as a foundation in which it can take place. We can assume and trust that once the healthy part of the client is given the opportunity to be free from ….. that their own empathy, unconditional love and loving willpower will also be released. The relationship with ourselves in who we really are can be experienced at that moment as a healing relationship.
Establishing an empathic connection is like running water in a pipeline that will find the breaks in the line.John Firman
The good enough mother
As a psychosynthesis therapist, we are a relationship specialist. The relationship with who we are, with our body, our mind, our feelings and what ‘inspired’ us. It starts with the relationship the therapist has with himself. Has the therapist met himself or herself and is he or she able to face himself or herself in both the ‘height’ and the ‘depth’. In general, you may expect a Psychosynthesis therapist to have gone through his or her own personal psychosynthesis process and be able, in Winnicott’s words, to be a ‘good enough mother’ to herself and his or her client.
“This glimpse of the baby and child’s seeing the self in the mother’s face, and afterwards in a mirror, gives a way of looking at analysis and at the psychotherapeutic task. Psychotherapy is not making clever and apt interpretations (nor the application of any other technique); by and large it is a long-term giving the cliënt back what the cliënt brings. It is a complexe derivative of the face thats reflects what is there to be seen. The good enough therapist, as Winnicott’s good mother, will allow the other person in the relationship to experience this: “When I look I am seen, so I exsist”Winnicott, 1988 Source: ‘The Primal Wound’, The Empathic Connection, pag 230.
About authenticity, unconditional love, a healthy I and a free will.
Psychosynthesis therapy is therefore about relationship. About authenticity, unconditional love, a free and healthy I and a free will. A relationship in which what wants to become visible may become visible. A relationship in which, together with the client, it is examined which method is suitable to work with at the moment. In which the client can be leading. And may also suffer. The personal suffering, the trauma biography in which we are allowed to face the injury of being unwanted, unloved, unprotected and the trauma of being our own perpetrator and dare to release the survival parts in ourselves at our own time and at our own pace to create the space in the here and now for the healthy parts of ourselves that we have long hidden away, because we were still convinced that we needed to protect this.
In the the therapeutic relationship, security and trust in the healthy I can be experienced with unconditional love and a healthy and free will in the here and now and reappropriated by the client as his or her right to exist.
I cordially invite you to face yourself and meet yourself in a safe and reliable way in the practice for Psychosynthesis Amsterdam. This can be done both online and on location in Amsterdam. Feel free to make an appointment for an introductory session for Psychosynthesis counseling or therapy and / or to research your own trauma biography.