Question: When I lie down to do my regressive therapy work, I immediately find myself making strange body movements, sometimes accompanied by sounds. My therapists have told me that I am doing the therapy incorrectly; that this was not the way to get into feelings and have stopped me from doing it.

I have been told that I am being "hysterical," and that to really access my feelings I should scream instead. I feel stuck and wonder what I should do. Is screaming a more productive way of arriving at feelings than "going" with my body?
-- Anonymous

(Notwithstanding his M.D. Dr. Vereshack is not a licensed physician)

Sequencing of Events in Deep Therapy

by Paul Vereshack M.D.

I am very touched by your letter. If you have time, read John Speyrer's on line interview of me which appears in the Primal Psychotherapy Page. There is a link to it on my therapy site, Help Me, I'm Tired of Feeling Bad, near the bottom of my homepage.

One of the very first things I dealt with in that interview is the unfortunate error your therapists made with you. This is the problem of "therapist belief."

There is no "right" way to feel your early material.

Your seemingly "strange" activities on the mat, should be considered as your very own, and hence, a "sacred" doorway, into yourself. Anyone who attempts to take you away from your process is transgressing the very first and most important rule of deep therapy which is, "What is coming up, is what is coming up." Don't interfere with it.

Treasure these doorways, and go with them.

If this is all you ever did for several months in a row, and if you were feeling no relief or sense of completion in your feeling sequences, I would talk to you about what was happening, attempting to find out whether you had created this activity as a defense.

I have emphasized that therapist beliefs are dangerous to the unfolding therapy process. I do, however, have my own particular way I handle this problem with patients.

I gently encourage and actively teach them to center their attention in feelings, body sensations and body movements. This is really the reason my patients came to me.

I also teach them how to add sounds to their work. Many beginners don't know how, or are reluctant to show this aspect of their pain.

The key issue here is that I am very careful not to interrupt the way a client's material is presenting itself. This is what happened to you and what brought you to a point of getting stuck.

For instance, if as a child the client was punished for making noise, then she may need a prolonged period of "silent" regressive work to firmly center herself in that very process. This "silent" work may seem to the therapist to be accomplishing nothing. However, it should not be interrupted.

We must have faith that at a certain point of readiness this silence is providing, it may lead to the next step in the unfolding sequence of feelings. Eventually, some therapist permission to be noisy may help the client turn the corner and enter the next process.

The therapist cannot know what is generating this silence, and therefore may interfere with the work if they interrupt it. That is why rigid therapist belief must never over-ride inner and usually unconscious "client knowing."

Not introducing a client to the relief of vocalizing one's pain would be therapist neglect.

Are we not encountering here the real "art" of therapy? The deep feeling oriented therapist's sense of timing is a very large part of this art.

I seem be to be contradicting myself. But, I have beliefs that "externalization" of inner processes is central to all deep feeling work.

It is central for three reasons:

First, it is the exact opposite of "being in one's head" - where most of us have been all our lives hiding our processes away from those who did not, and still do not understand them.

Second, externalizing our pain activates a deeper ability to actually hear and realize how we have always been hiding from and betraying ourselves by living in the "lie." It is one of the great central truths of repressed emotional pain that truth itself must be lived from the ground up, or healing does not come to completion.

One reason that complex therapies are so popular is because they foster the belief in both therapist and client, that "understanding" is enough. It never is. Pain must be experienced and externalized in sound and movement and the insights gained as a result must be incorporated into our lives.

A woman, the wife of a successful professional, was a patient of mine many years ago. She said to me, "you can help me with anything at all but do not touch my marriage." She thought she could live dishonestly and get better which was rubbish.

The third reason we must externalize our pain is that it releases the tension that has been overloading our central nervous systems.

Early in my practice, one of my patients, out of necessity, let out a blood-curdling scream. Within a minute, I had other doctors in my beautiful office building pounding on my door asking if something was wrong. I soon became convinced that doing therapy in an office without soundproofing is a waste of time because it is too inhibiting.

Nonetheless, amidst all these considerations, if you interrupt your client's way of approaching himself you do so at your own peril. The way we journey and how our journey unfolds is not to be too quickly channeled, just because it does not fit one's regressive therapy mold. One feeling in a sequence leads to another. Skipping this natural progression and introducing your own agenda, will cause the issue, which was rising to connection, to be lost. Neither should one attempt to start a therapy session with last week's ending. This will often result in the loss of an issue which was hovering on the edge of consciousness

We must also honor the longer periods of time which some symptoms require for resolution. Much of our pain is both very diffuse and very deep, due to the long years of early childhood hurt.

We must be prepared, therefore, to spend long periods of time in seemingly "unproductive" work, in order both to externalize this huge pool of core tension, and to create readiness for the next sequence of events to unfold. These periods are not unproductive though they may seem to be so. They set the necessary setting for the next stage, for the next emerging issue, no matter how bizarre or "unproductive" the therapy work may seem.

Readiness is all. So seemingly useless material must never be defeated in its early attempts to sequence itself.

Some of my own work has been quite bizarre and has gone on for months without much sound, or connection.

In the end it has always lead to a deeper truth.

Paul Vereshack

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