Information Offered to New Clients Article By Ron Kurtz, Founder of the Hakomi Method
If you’re thinking about becoming a client of a Hakomi practitioner, this short description will acquaint you with the method and what you may experience.
Here’s What You Need to Know about the Method Hakomi is based on the idea that much of our everyday suffering is in fact unnecessary and is produced by unconscious beliefs that are no longer relevant, true or necessary. The method is designed to bring such beliefs into consciousness. Hakomi is a method of assisted self-study and discovery. It can bring normally inaccessible mental processes into consciousness gently and efficiently. Once these mental processes (such as beliefs, memories, habits and emotions) are made conscious, they can be examined and modified to provide a more realistic and satisfying way of being. This work of assisted self-discovery requires that clients can enter into short periods (a minute or less) of mindfulness. Because of this, clients must be able to become calm and centered enough to observe their own reactions, as if they were observing the automatic behaviour of another person.
The practitioner pays very close attention to your nonverbal behaviors, such as your tone of voice, movements, gestures, posture, facial expressions and micro-expressions. By observing these, the practitioner gets ideas about what unconscious material is controlling your automatic, unconscious behaviors. On the basis of those ideas, the practitioner creates little experiments, often just a statement, that are done while you are in a mindful state. These little experiments often elicit clear reactions, often emotional ones. These reactions are the links to the unconscious mental processes that create them. When a reaction is evoked, moments later, memories, beliefs and associations emerge which will help you make sense of the reaction. Once beliefs and memories are in consciousness, they are examined and modified.
What to Expect This method is not about talking out your problems. It won’t be a long, speculative conversation about your troubles or your emotional history. It is our belief that your emotional history, the part of it that has created the unconscious beliefs and habits with which you meet the world, is operating right now. Your history is written in the way you do things every minute. It is expressed by your style and your defining characteristics. So, you can expect that the therapist will be looking and listening for these and will bring them to your attention as part of setting up the little experiments in mindfulness that are the core of the work.
The practitioner will also be very warm, kind and patient. The vulnerability that mindfulness entails, the openness to unconscious material that’s needed, all require a very safe environment, which needs a particularly caring, non-judgmental person. You can expect your practitioner to be exactly that.
You can also expect the work to bring up intense emotions at times. At those moments, your practitioner will work to contain the process, provide comfort and help you understand what’s happening.
Because the method is based on this very direct route to unconscious material (potentially nourishing experiments in mindfulness), it is faster than most other methods. It works very directly with nonverbal expressions and does not spend a lot of time in conversation, analyzing and explaining. Something significant usually happens every session.
What You Need to be Ready It helps if: (1) you can stay focused on and report on your present experiences; (2) you can study your reactions to experiments in mindfulness; (3) you’re willing to explore getting into a calm, inward-focused state and be relaxed enough to allow reactions; (4) you’re willing to experience some painful feelings and speak about them. It also helps if you don’t need to ask a lot of questions or feel like you must solve problems, explain yourself, justify your actions, or have a conversation. And you’ll need the courage to be open and honest. That will be your greatest ally.
The Rewards There are many. Relief from persistent, painful emotions and behaviors is probably the greatest reward. You will gain a much deeper understanding of yourself and with that, more freedom to choose what you’ll be able to feel, greater pleasure in everyday living, and the ability to engage in fuller, richer, more rewarding relationships. Assisted self-study can help us to achieve all that.
The thing that makes Hakomi very different from other types of talk therapies is the use of mindfulness and what we call “little experiments”.
Firstly Hakomi practitioners help you to feel welcome, comfortable and at ease. Hakomi therapists understand how important it is for healing, for therapists to be very warm, kind and patient. For the method to work well it is vital to feel well supported, connection with and trust in your therapist – so I spend as much time as needed to build a good rapport.
When it is right for you and at a pace that works for you I will introduce mindfulness and offer the possibility of a "little experiement".
Mindfulness is simply turning your attention quietly inwards so that you can notice what arises inside without judgement. It is a way of watching ourselves or witnessing whatever is happening, in the present moment. Mindfulness enables you to become calm and centred enough to notice and observe your own reactions, a bit like observing the automatic behaviour of another person. Ron Kurtz Hakomi founder says nothing is as helpful in psychotherapy as mindfulness.
Hakomi practitioners are trained to play very close attention to non-verbal behaviours like tone of voice, gestures, postures, movements and facial expressions – these all give the therapist ideas and clues to what inner beliefs/core material may be impacting on your life. Once in mindfulness, when you are ready and on the basis of these ideas/clues I am then able to create a little experiment, often just saying some words. The words may be something like “you are welcome here” or “you are safe here” or “you are a good person”. In our everyday state nothing much would likely happen but in the mindful state the little experiment will often bring forth a clear reaction, it may be an emotional reaction such as sadness, longing, joy. The reactions are links to the inner beliefs, past losses or pain that create the reaction. Once the reaction happens, moments later memories, beliefs and associations often emerge and together we can start to make sense of the reaction. This means the reactions, beliefs and memories are now conscious. Once they are conscious, with sensitive support they can then be shared, explored, feelings expressed, experiences acknowledged. And then choice, healing and transformation become possible.
Hakomi is a deeply respectful therapy and is always led and guided by you and your inner wisdom. The intention is to create an experience of greater freedom, choice and relief from unnecessary suffering through knowing yourself. Change becomes possible and can occur naturally and gently from the inside out.
Ron Kurtz the founder of Hakomi has written an article that clients new to Hakomi may find useful - the article can be found here.