by Paul Vereshack M.D.
I am not going to discuss the acquiring of credentials. I don't believe that this is what you are asking for.
I have said in my book Help Me- I'm Tired of Feeling Bad, that I believe non-psychotic mental illness results from a very basic lie. The lie is not a conscious one and so it might be argued that it is not a lie at all. But, let us not split hairs on this. Let's just go to the issue.
As human beings, we build a surface self which grows more and more out of conscious contact with our deeper self. We lead a life which symbolizes but is different from who we are deeper within. We live a "lie."
The greater our pain, usually the greater is the displacement and symbolization that our surface self has to manufacture.
I have spoken of this in my book, in some detail. We all suffer from this "lie" and it is for the most part invisible. This is why clean and clear training in any therapy is so hard to find.
In all other realms of human knowledge we can objectively study what we focus on, but in the area of psychotherapy, because the self is to be the instrument, we cannot trust that we will be able to uncontaminate it. We are floating in the dishonest brine of our civilization, and we seek to extract this brine from ourselves while we are still in the barrel.
Normally we turn to institutions for our learning, and that works for almost all things, but not for training in Primal Therapy.
Institutions are places where people who are filled with "normal" human fears band together for the purpose of colluding with each other in the maintenance of their lie. These places offer a stage upon which people can lead their displaced and disguised fruitless search for primal security. Institutions by their very nature foster and maintain the search for power. Institutions, as is our whole society, are intrinsically dishonest.
Primal Therapy cuts through dishonesty like an electric knife through water. For this reason Primal Therapy is shunned by institutions.
Primal Therapy must first be learned by actually doing it on oneself. After a few years of this internal honesty we slowly realize that we can sit beside someone else who is working on themselves in this way, without our terror having to interfere with their slow and wondrous awakening. We no longer have to operate from the "lie." We have no axe to grind.
To go beyond this internal truthfulness into real training we must be in a small community of like minded people. We must spend a few years in a primally (honesty) oriented group. In this group we must receive and offer microscopic truth to each other, lying down to primal every challenge we receive to our false self. And so also must we challenge others in their invisible "lie." This must all take place within a very loving atmosphere of continuous, honest, mutual sharing. It must be done with a set of principles which foster growth, and not unproductive hurt.
The existence of groups like this is I think are very rare. Thus, good primal training is very rare, and I have little idea where to find it.
I would shun institutions of any real size, for the reasons mentioned above, and I would be very suspicious of any setting that charges high fees. This is a dead give-away that truth is secondary to personal materialism.
Find a small group of people with several senior experienced depth therapists, who meet regularly for the purpose of having an ongoing experience together of being present to each other in microscopic honesty.
Make sure that these people are willing to lie down in front of each other and primal their unresolved early material, when it appears in the group interactions. In a group like this you can soak in a different kind of brine. You can work on yourself with others monitoring your honesty in a loving atmosphere of carefully controlled support and challenge.You will be able to observe the interactive and primal work of a variety of experienced dedicated practitioners and their students.
You must also be in your own personal primal therapy.
I realize that what I am about to say sounds very self-serving but I am going to say it anyway.
A small group of men and women, in this city, including myself, under the name, "The Toronto Institute of Self Healing" are trying to become a group, which might just be able to facilitate good depth therapy practitioners. This is the only group, I personally know, that I am even starting to trust, to do this very difficult work. That doesn't mean that there aren't others.
We have certainly had our trials by fire, our disagreements, our varying points of view. We have stood toe to toe, or should I say, sat, knee to knee, year after year, struggling, each one of us, to speak our truths and to hear them, from each other. We lie down and do our deep work in front of each other. We leave no stone unturned in our relentless honesty.
In addition to this we have all had years of personal therapy.
I say to you, look for a group like this where you can soak in a different kind of brine. Where you can work on yourself with others monitoring your honesty and giving loving but careful support, where you can observe the styles and techniques of many different therapists, thus drinking in a wide range of interactions both on the receiving and on the giving end.
After a few years of this you will find that you will either want to sit with others in their pain, or you won't want this to be your life. If you do, then the change over from receiver of therapy, to giver, will come naturally and without any fanfare. You will simply one day realize that you are giving what you have been receiving, and you will smile and say, "I must be a therapist."
Paul Vereshack M.D.
Dr Vereshack is the author of an online book entitled Help Me -- I'm Tired of Feeling Bad
Other writings on this website by or about Dr. Vereshack include:
Book Review of Help Me -- I'm Tired of Feeling Bad
The Primal Page's Favorite Quotations from Help Me -- I'm Tired of Feeling Bad
The Primal Psychotherapy Page Interviews Paul Vereshack, M.D.
Return to Index of Dr. Vereshack's Questions