by Barbara Bryan

There are 3 kinds of therapy: Brief therapy involving a particular problem and lasting only a few sessions in order to solve that problem. Cognitive-Behavioral therapy takes place over a longer period of time, 10 or 12 sessions, to resolve some unproductive behavioral issues. Learning to cope in the here and now, and treating the symptoms. Profound therapy which goes deeper and focuses on the causes of the behavior and stresses in your life and works on healing the wounded Self.

Managed care prefers the first two ways of therapy and some only allow 6 sessions for even seriously disturbed clients.

I believe in working with the more profound type of therapy. I have been involved in Primal Integration Therapy since 1972. The therapy changed my life. I was going through a divorce after 30 years of marriage and 5 children. It meant so much to me and my survival that I decided to train to be a Primal Therapist. I went back to school and eventually received my Master's Degree in Psychology. Opened my own Center in 1974 and have been dedicated to this process ever since.

I have completed 9 forty-day live-in training sessions, 8 as a leader. I am now serving my 4th term as president of the IPA. I direct one of a very few Primal Centers in the USA.

Now, let me tell you about this "profound" therapy. Primal Integration.

It is a humanistic model rather than a medical model. The client has the knowledge within to heal themselves. They just need the safety, support and expertise of the therapist to allow their feelings to be released. Each person learns to trust feelings, memories or sensations as they come to them. The body, mind, spirit wants to heal and if we can stay out of its way, it will bring to us whatever we need to pursue that healing.

As an example:

There really is cellular memory. Science is finally beginning to prove what we have felt and known experientially for years. An example of this is a session I had with a client once. She was getting into feelings - not specific to anything - when her lower leg started to really hurt. Our technique was to grasp her leg where it hurt so she could focus on that pain. Then she had an experience of being in a rowboat as a young girl and her leg went through the bottom of the boat and was stuck. She yelled with pain and terror as the boat was sinking in the water. It was a very traumatic incident. Her body had carried that trauma for 20+ years. Later, she made some connections to her fear of drowning and reluctance to go on boats. Knowing the cause of her fears helped her to cope with them and eventually overcome that particular fear.

Most people who come into therapy are depressed or feel something is lacking in their life. Often the ones who come to me have tried talk therapy and it is helpful but something vital feels out of reach. One of the ways we deal with depression is to explore their suppressed anger. Simplistically, depression is anger turned inward against yourself. Suicide is an example.

I think of anger as being collected in a very large trash bag and carried around on your back. Starting as early as infancy, we store our resentments and dissatisfactions and outright rage in this bag. Then when something provokes us in the here and now, we dump an unreasonable amount of anger out of the bag onto whoever is handy.

Our job in therapy is to release that anger in a safe way and in a safe place. We gradually put our anger and rage where it belongs in our past. This takes some work and time but it is so very profitable. Most of us can find some anger directed at our parents. I worked on my anger at my mother early on in my primal process. Later, when she was ill and dying, I held her in my arms and I was able to truly feel my love for her without the underlying resentments about her criticisms. I was so grateful for the therapy I had experienced.

In my work with people, the focus is on what they are experiencing and needing. It is client-directed not therapist-directed. I will be with them on a cognitive level if that is what they are comfortable with, on a coaching level if that is what they need, or a feeling expression level. If they are ready to release some feelings - grief, sadness, loneliness, anger, resentment, anxiety, I am ready to help them go as deeply into that feeling as they feel safe doing. In that process, they may let go of some of their control and have an experience that goes to the very heart of their issue. This can be an extremely healing experience for them. Eventually, a life-changing process.

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