Healing Through the Archetypes

Stories from the Body

 

Healing Through the Archetypes

 

 A healing for the soul, which is recommended to all those, therapists or “lay people” who feel a need for greater self-empowerment, and to provide tools for healing.

Each of us contain many different personalities or voices which have been formed by many different life experiences. Some of these are beneficial to our soul development and some are obstructive. 

By identifying those parts of us which remain undeveloped or in the shadow we can help their integration with the healthy parts to bring into our lives greater health, energy and happiness. 

Structure of the Course 

A two-day workshop of self-discovery based on the work of Carl Jung (Archetypes), Hal Stone (Voice Dialogue) and Carolyn Myss (Sacred Contracts) 

-Universal Archetypes

The Child. The Saboteur. The Victim. The Prostitute. An introduction as to how these archetypes function in our life. 

-Personal Archetypes. Making an archetypal wheel

In which spheres of our life are our archetypal selves most evident. Are they beneficial or obstructive.? How can we convert weakness into strength? 

-Voice Dialogue (Gestalt)

What voice does each archetype express ? How can I integrate all those different voices (sub-personalities)? 

-Recreating Myself and my Reality

Using voice, movement and drama to experiment with new ways of being. 

-Spiritual Guidance

 Using meditation and guided imagery to connect with our individual soul and to all of life. To strengthen our ability to meet our fears and to release our negative emotions. 

 

 

Stories from the Body

 

 Working with Somatic Transferential Dynamics and Dilemmas within the Psychotherapeutic Relationship

 These workshops are designed for therapists to deepen their understanding of working with embodied trauma and PTSD.  It is in early bodily experiences that primary metaphors arise.  In a journey through the body we will use somatic mindfulness exercises, image work, metaphor and myth to explore the creative possibilities of working with the embodied self.  We aim to bring the unconscious directly into the psychotherapeutic field and to promote the integrated working of the right and left brain hemispheres.  We will look at case studies and application of the work in clinical settings.

 

 Stories of the body - embedded metaphor  Autumn 2010

 To return to the world of Jungian and post-Jungian theorists, the initiators of my fascination with the inner world of human beings, and to harness that knowledge to fifteen years of teaching body-centred psychotherapy has presented me with the impossible challenge of condensing all the different strands relevant to this workshop into a brief, informative and readable handout.

 

The majority of my clinical work is with trauma survivors and I am trained in sensori-motor psychotherapy for trauma (Pat Ogden) .

I also teach body psychotherapy through Haifa University as well as giving a course on trauma and the body. I have been enormously influenced by Buddhist practice and philosophy as well as the seminal work on using Mindfulness in therapy of Eugene Gendlin (Focusing) which has been a basis for all subsequent Mindfulness based therapies.

 

Rereading Jung's "The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious" I was struck by the author's struggle to delineate the anima, and his conclusion that:

 

 "thus the anima and life itself are meaningless in so far as they offer no interpretation….only when all props and crutches are broken ..does it become possible for us to experience an archetype that up till then had lain hidden behind the meaningful nonsense played out by the anima. This is the archetype of meaning, just as the anima is the archetype of life itself".

 

So what is the archetype of life itself? Would you not say the body? The body which houses the soul? The soul which is the constant center in all external and internal play of sensory perception – conscious and unconscious.

 

 Certainly in trauma a person's experience of life and of self fragments. There is a loss of meaning – a loss of soul parts, in shamanic terminology.  Similarly the body fragments and because the human personality is expresses through bodily presence in the world any breakdown of this personality requires a treatment that is an adequate response to this bodily presence.

 

Then we come to the archetype of meaning. What is that? Is it a structure (archetype) that can contain chaos? Kurtz ( Hakomi –Body centred psychotherapy) noted that:

 

"the goal of therapy is not any particular experience: it is a change which organizes all experiences differently, a change in a way of experiencing. To make that kind of change we must deal with meaning".

 

Therapy, therefore, must be a therapy of the body and soul to prevent a breakdown into a chaos of conflicting parts and to ensure the structural wholeness of the personality. We want to show how, through conscious embodiment and the creative imagination we can create a link which allows for the meeting of the conscious and the unconscious, the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems and which involves working with both the right and left frontal lobes of the brain.

 

Our work requires the body to tell its stories. Through mindfulness of the bodily sensations, gestures, postural changes and  symptoms combined with a conscious creative translation through myth and metaphor we enter a world similar to that which Winnicott  (Playing and Reality) calls transitional space. This space is a space without the clarity of opposition that enables order to be achieved. I cannot control what takes place there but I can dare to explore, with my body, my breath, my attention, supporting that danger-fraught exploration. Thismeaningful nonsense is a body possessed of many memories and feelings lost to consciousness and inhabited by archetypes. It contains multiple images which can lead us further into what we call soul.

 

Furthermore it is only the imagination that is capable of encompassing chaos. The traumatized client has to find a structure and allow for a transitional "nonsensical" space in order to create herself anew. A space in which clients can take themselves out of the passive, helpless state that they may be experiencing in their lives and allow them to become acutely involved in reinventing themselves. In this way they can gain a sense of themselves as being capable of acting on the world. As

Stephen K. Levine writes in Trauma, Tragedy, Therapy (2009) :

 

If you become defined as a survivor of abuse, you may not recognize that you are also the one who can respond to it; that

you define yourself not by your wound but by your capacity to respond to it"

 

We are supporting the "respondability" (responsiveness) of my body and soul to the fragmenting event. Not as an attempt to "stick the pieces back together" but as a daring venture to include the traumatic experience and reinvent myself. To do this I have to be in my body and allow the Mind to enter into the body.

 

In my training as a sensorimotor therapist the emphasis was not on how people make meaning of their experience, but on the client's physical self-experience and self-awareness. Because, neurobiologically speaking, the medial  prefrontal cortex is compromised in trauma , this means that traumatized individuals have serious problems attending to their inner sensations and perceptions. When they do learn how to do so they tend to become either overwhelmed by or disengage from their emotions entirely. Therefore Phase 1 work involves teaching the traumatized individual to learn that it is safe to have feelings and emotions, how to keep these feeling within a "window of tolerance" and how to differentiate between physical sensations and emotions. In Phase 2 work we help the clients discover physical impulses and options that they abandoned for the sake of survival during the trauma . Amplifying the physical impulses and experimenting with ways to modify them is the beginning of bringing uncompleted trauma-related action tendencies to completion.

 

Phase 3 involves integration and success in normal life, and without denying the importance of acquiring social and relational skills I am well aware that while some shifts in self-perception occur in the first two phases, the tendency to revert to distorted mental and physical behaviors under stress still remains. If the client cannot reimagine herself and bring the new archetype into her body eventually the mind-body will resume its old patterns which are always stronger than the newer, more recently acquired ones. It is at this stage that the work with embedded metaphor holds sway.

 

If we return to Winnicott's transitional space, it is here that a shift affecting body, mind and soul can occur. Once we have reached the stage of allowing our clients to experience their bodies and their emotions we need then to allow for an emergence of a new meaning. A personal myth which will allow for the larger world and my life to fit together – a pattern in which my life finds its relationship to all its parts and which therefore gives my outer life inner meaning, and allows for my inner life to push for outer manifestation. A positive, meaningful shift in our self-perception so that we can reconnect to the world in a different way also results in brain-body responses.

 

In the body a felt sense of self-creation allows for the release of mood-enhancing hormones and the concomital response of the whole biophysical system. On the level of neural connectivity there are new neural connections in the brain. Canili(2004) emphasizes that the role one region of the brain plays in neural representation of a psychological function depends on the activity in other neural regions at the same time. He writes that "more brain centers light up in response to metaphor than in any other form of human communication, thus indicating the formation of a new neural pathways."

 

By working with an embodied consciousness which by its nature means being present and by applying the creative imagination as it arises from the BodyMind the mental images function as elements in a symbolic reality and because they are happening in the here- and now the organismic involvement can be dramatic, often involving an altered state of consciousness. This expanded awareness together with the experiencing of symbolic reality allows for an internal experience where expression of that reality can be rehearsed and tried out prior to consciously bringing the new elements into the outer world.  If the image is psychodramatically acted out, a profound enhancement is added to the experience. The symbolic reality is further vivified by virtue of concrete use of the musculo-skeletal system. So at this level of work, action and interaction are actualized, not just imagined, and the organism expresses in concrete form. This allows for both satisfaction and for the sharpening of awareness as the client can act out her newly created imaginal world.

 

The creative imagination, metaphor and myth allow us to experience many different ways of being – from the imaginal to the transcendent. From the combined disciplines of molecular biology, neurology and quantum physics we understand that not only everything we think and feel affects our biology and life energy but even more extraordinary – that through our BodyMind we actually create the reality of our experience.