Approach and method
The Hakomi method combines Western psychology, systems theory, and body-centered techniques with the mindfulness and non-violence principles of Eastern philosophy. Hakomi is grounded in five principles:
These five principles are set forth in Kurtz's book, Body Centered Psychotherapy. Some Hakomi leaders add two more principles, truth and mutability.
The Hakomi Method regards people as self-organizing systems, organized psychologically around core memories, beliefs and images; this core material expresses itself through habits and attitudes that tend to guide people unconsciously. Hakomi is a method for helping people discover and recognize these patterns. The goal is to transform their way of being in the world through working with core material and changing core beliefs.
Hakomi relies on mindfulness of body sensations, emotions and memories. Although many therapists now recommend mindfulness meditation to support psychotherapy, Hakomi is unique in that it conducts the majority of the therapy session in mindfulness.
- Create healing relationship: Client and therapist work to build a relationship that maximizes safety and the cooperation of the unconscious. This includes practicing “loving presence”, a state of acceptance and empathic resonance.
- Establish mindfulness: Therapist helps clients study and focus on the ways they organize experience. Hakomi's viewpoint is that most behaviors are habits automatically organized by core material; therefore studying the organization of experience is studying the influence of this core material.
- Evoke experience: Client and therapist make direct contact with core feelings, beliefs and memories using "experiments in mindfulness" - gentle somatic and verbal techniques to safely "access" the present experience behind the client's verbal presentation, or to explore "indicators": chronic physical patterns, habitual gestures, bodily tension, etc.
- Processing: This process usually evokes deeper emotions and/or memories, and if the client feels ready, the therapist helps them deepen into these, often using state-specific processing such as "working with the child" and/or strong emotions. The client is helped to recognize the core beliefs as they emerge, and the therapist often provides what Kurtz called “the missing experience”, a form of "memory re-consolidation" where the child, as they revisit the negative experience(s) that generated their core beliefs, now receives the nourishment and support that was needed at the time. This supports the process of transformation of core beliefs. The same process may be used working with the adult rather than the "child state."
- Transformation: The client has an experience in therapy different from the one they had as a child (or are having as an adult) and experientially realizes that new healing experiences are possible and begins to be open to these experiences.
- Integration: Client and therapist work to make connections between the new healing experiences and the rest of the client's life and relationships.
Other components of the Hakomi-Method include the sensitivity cycle, techniques such as "contact and tracking", "probes" and "taking over", "embracing resistance" and developing a greater sensitivity to clients and how to work with their individual issues based on character typology originated by Alexander Lowen.
The Hakomi Institute is an international nonprofit organization founded in 1981, teaching Hakomi Therapy worldwide. It also provides an information center on Hakomi Therapy, and its website includes an international Directory of Practitioners. The institute's programs focus on training psychotherapists and professionals in related fields. Its faculty are mainly professional psychotherapists who continue to refine their teaching of the Hakomi Method based on current discoveries in neuroscience, and what they discovery in their therapeutic work is most effective with clients. The Hakomi Institute is a professional member of the Association for Humanistic Psychology, the U.S. Association for Body Psychotherapists, and an accredited Continuing Education provider for the National Board for Certified Counselors and the National Association of Social Workers.
Ron Kurtz left the Hakomi Institute in the 1990s to create a new organization, Ron Kurtz Trainings. With a new group, he has developed the method in new directions, a training that is designed for both professionals and laypeople. This new version is now thought of as Mindfulness Based, Assisted Self-Discovery.
Both versions of the Hakomi Method are based in loving presence, mindfulness, somatics and the other principles described above, and fall within the definition of body psychotherapy.
Another technique based on Hakomi is called Sensorimotor psychotherapy. This technique was developed by Pat Ogden.
Body-Psychotherapy has been scientifically validated by the European Association for Psychotherapy (E.A.P.) as have a number of the various modalities within this branch of Psychotherapy. Hakomi is one of the approaches or “modalities” within Body-Psychotherapy which has been recognised by the EAP.
- "The Hakomi Institute Homepage". Hakomi Institute website. Retrieved 2007-05-13.
- Body Psychotherapy pp. 133-141, Tree Staunton, 2002, ISBN 1-58391-116-2 Google Books
- Cole, J. David; Carol Ladas-Gaskin (2007). Mindfulness Centered Therapies. Silver Birch Press. pp. 35–9. ISBN 9780981658506.
- Kurtz 1990: 2-4
- Kurtz 1990: 72-74
- EABP & EAP article, p3
- Kurtz, Ron (1990). Body-Centered Psychotherapy. LifeRhythm. ISBN 0940795035.
- Johanson, Greg; Ron Kurtz (1991). Grace Unfolding: Psychotherapy in the Spirit of the Tao-te Ching. Bell Tower (publisher). ISBN 0517881306.
- The Herald (September 22, 2004) Hakomi is the topic. Page 15.
- Johanson, Gregory. (June 22, 2006) Annals of the American Psychotherapy Association. A survey of the use of mindfulness in psychotherapy. Volume 9; Issue 2; Page 15.
- Marshall, Lisa. (October 15, 2001) Daily Camera The power of touch. Body psychotherapy sees massage, movement as adjunct to counseling. Section: Fit; Page C1
- Sutter, Cindy. (June 21, 2004) Daily Camera Healing the body and the mind Hakomi helps clients heal with mindfulness. Section: Fit; Page D1.
- Benz, Dyrian and Halko Weiss. To The Core of Your Experience, Luminas Press, 1989, preface by Ron Kurtz.
- Fisher, Rob. Experiential Psychotherapy With Couples: A Guide for the Creative Pragmatist. Phoenix, AZ: Zeig, Tucker & Theisen, 2002.
- Johanson, Greg and Kurtz, Ron. Grace Unfolding, Psychotherapy in the Spirit of the Tao Te Ching, New York: Bell Tower, 1991.
- Kurtz, Ron and Prestera, Hector. The Body Reveals: An Illustrated Guide to the Psychology of the Body, New York: Harper&Row/Quicksilver Books, 1976.
- Kurtz, Ron: Hakomi Therapy, Boulder, CO: 1983.
- Kurtz, Ron: Body-Centered Psychotherapy: The Hakomi Method. Mendecino: LifeRhythm, 1990.
- Caldwell, Christine, ed. Getting in Touch: The Guide to New Body-Centered Therapies. Wheaton: Quest Books, 1997. See ch. 3 by Ron Kurtz and Kukuni Minton on "Essentials of Hakomi Body-Centered Psychotherapy", pp. 45–60, and ch. 9 by Pat Ogden on "Hakomi Integrated Somatics: Hands-On Psychotherapy", pp. 153–178.
- Capuzzi, David and Douglas Gross, eds. Counseling and Psychotherapy: Theories and Interventions. 4th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall, 2003: See Donna M. Roy "Body-Centered Counseling and Psychotherapy", pp. 360–389.
- Cole, J. David and Carol Ladas-Gaskin. Mindfulness Centered Therapies: An Integrative Approach. Seattle, WA: Silver Birch Press, 2007.
- Menkin, Dan. Transformation through Bodywork: Using Touch Therapies for Inner Peace. Santa Fe, New Mexico: Bear & Company, 1996. See especially ch. 15 on "The Tao Te Ching and the Principle of Receptivity", pp. 119–128.
- Morgan, Marilyn. The Alchemy of Love: Personal Growth Journeys in Psychotherapy Training. VDM Verlag, Saarbrücken, Germany, 2008.
- Schaefer, Charles E., ed. Innovative Interventions in Child and Adolescent Therapy. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1988. See Greg Johanson and Carol Taylor, "Hakomi Therapy with Seriously Emotionally Disturbed Adolescents," pp. 232–265.
- Staunton, Tree. Body Psychotherapy. New York: Taylor & Francis, 2002. See Philippa Vick, "Psycho-Spiritual Body Psychotherapy", pp. 133–147.
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