East Meets West In Hakomi Therapy


Hakomi Mindfulness-Centred Somatic Psychotherapy is a mindfulness based, body-centred approach developed by Ron Kurtz, which combines somatic (body) awareness with experiential techniques to promote psychological growth and transformation. Hakomi is an elegant integration of Eastern mindfulness and non-violence and effective and unique Western therapeutic methodology. It’s core principles stem from Buddhism and Taoism. Western therapeutic influences include general systems theory and body-centered therapies such as Gestalt, Psychomotor, Feldenkrais, Structural bodywork, Focusing, Ericksonian Hypnosis, Neurolinguistic Programming and Bioenergetics.

Hakomi theory uses somatic (body) indicators as a window to unconscious psychological material, and trained practitioners support those in therapy identify these indicators of unconscious beliefs and help bring these indicators into awareness, aiding the process of authentic empowerment and change.

The Five Core Principles

Mindfulness is a relaxed, alert state of consciousness characterized by a sustained focus of our attention inward and a heightened awareness of what is happening in the present. Mindfulness can reduce distraction and quiet the mind, enhancing our ability to detect sensations, emotions and thoughts arising in the moment. Unconscious material is typically brought into conscious awareness in this state of mindfulness. ​

Organicity describes individuals as inherently wise living systems capable of self-organization, self-correction, and self-maintenance. Each person has an innate capacity to heal, and this capacity includes an inner knowledge of what is needed for healing to occur. The therapist’s role, then, is to facilitate and support an individual’s natural restorative ability as the individual journeys toward wholeness.

Mind-Body Integration is the recognition of mind, body, and spirit as entities that continuously interact and influence each other and a person’s beliefs about the self, others, and the world. All three systems contribute to what is experienced by the individual at a given point in time. Core beliefs about the self and the world are therefore reflected not only in one’s way of thinking and acting, but in one’s physiology and somatic (body) experiences, as well.

Nonviolence implies the collaboration between the therapist and the person being helped. The therapist pays close attention to the individual’s own innate therapeutic process and allows it to unfold without interfering. Defenses are not viewed as obstacles to be broken down forcefully but are recognized for what they are: reactions enabling individuals to manage their emotional experiences. Therapists offer respect and support instead of challenging defenses, which enables individuals to become better able to work through these defenses.

Unity describes the Hakomi view that individuals consist of interdependent parts working together for the overall health of the system. The unity principle also assumes individuals to be both interconnected and interdependent. In the therapeutic setting, individuals can be helped to overcome perceived barriers or power imbalances between the self and others, establishing an atmosphere of unconditional positive regard and authentic empowerment.

The Hakomi method can support individuals with:

personal growth – resilience – self-esteem – work-life balance – life transitions – navigating interpersonal relationships – stress – tension – lack of energy – depression – anxiety – trauma – addictions

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