Thursday, August 05, 2010

Hakomi Therapy

Ever since my Facebook post about having an awesome Hakomi therapy experience, the crowds have been in questions - what on earth is this Hakomi thing and what exactly did I mean by an "awesome" experience? So here it comes...

Hakomi was first introduced to me by a friend who's been seeing a Hakomi-trained psychotherapist for a few months now. Every time she talked about her appointments and her therapist, I was very impressed. For someone who has been in therapy on and off for 14 years, it takes a lot to impress me now, and in fact, I haven't been in "talk" therapy for a couple of years now. I got on some meds, do a lot of meditation and writing, and for the most part, can process things out with friends or Dylan. But lately some things have gotten kicked up with my memoir writing that I felt I needed a therapist to help me deal with. So even though I got other recommendations from friends, I asked Becky to tell me what kind of practice her therapist did.

Hakomi, she told me. She had to spell it - I'd never heard it. Reiki, shamanism, acupuncture, EMDR, I've gone a lot of ways to network the mind and body, but not that. Her therapist focuses on talk therapy with a Hakomi edge - but I only found two (one of whom turned out to not be a Hakomi person after all) in Madison at all, and the one legit Hakomi person is really more, it appeared to me from her website, a massage therapist. Hmm. I like massage, but I do need *some* talking.

I emailed her with some questions about how the talk and massage worked together, and she replied. I still didn't quite get it, but something told me to keep persuing, so we talked on the phone and set an appointment. Still, I wasn't sure I could picture it - how would this work, massage and talk therapy together? I had faith, I guess you could say, or intuition that this is in fact exactly what I needed. After years of chronic issues with IBS and certain old back injuries, which have received chiropractic, acupunture and herbal help, as well as Ibuprofen, yoga, and PT, I was starting to notice that the emotional patterns didn't seem so separate from the physical ones. What if I could work on them together?

Upon meeting the therapist, I got a strong sense of being in the right place. Our minds mixed easily, but with good boundaries, and within the 1/2 hour introducing ourselves to each other, my mind offered up things I wouldn't "think" to say, and I let them come out. She told me there were many options, and always would be - I could treat it more like straightforward massage first, with bodily sensations guiding me as to what I needed, and/or what I needed to talk about, or we could start first with talking, or whatever. I chose massage - bad neck spasm that day - and was blow away by how integral, after all, the pain and issues are.

There's something about the nature of experiences that are profound that does, in fact, make them hard to describe. That's a bit how I feel right now about talking about it. I felt very vulnerable, physically revealed on the table, and my mind resisted it. She caught the resistance in the things I said, even in how my eyes looked, and kept asking me to be mindful and return to the hurt, no matter how it manifested. At every turn, every twitch, she gently witnessed for me, with me, my sensations and thoughts - thoughts as sensations. Nothing was rejected, nothing lost, all used for awareness. We certainly didn't "solve" anything, but "solving" anything I think is what has caused more problems for me in the past, in talk therapy and in body work.

I booked a second appointment, and would be happy to talk more specifically with anyone who thinks this kind of "therapy" might be right up their alley for now. I warned her that she may have referrals pouring in, that all my students may want to come to her, and she smiled. She's independently employed, too, and knows that is how business grows, even if from all the way across the country, from another Hakomi practicioner, who's never even met her.

I've had that, too, a woman join a class of mine saying that she'd just left Portland and her "writing practice instructor" told her to look for her "local writing practice teacher" when she settled in. The fact that there's only one of this therapist here in town makes me as grateful as that student was when she found me - sometimes there are none, sometimes more than one, and when you find the one right for you, regardless, gratitude ensues.


  1. M. sometimes words aren't enough...sometimes there just aren't any words. But there is something. What is it? Something. Our body knows, it remembers, it stores stuff from the get-go and gives us hints all the time (bad back, neck, etc etc). I go to a Feldenkrais practitioner and the work is similar in that it's talk, it's movement, it's touch and sometimes just silent, just being in the presence of someone who accepts and loves and wants to help and liberate you. The person I go to specializes in dealing with trauma, mostly of sexual nature but not specifically. My journey began years ago when my kids were young and i was struggling with being a mom and desperately not wanting to repeat any any of the same situations that I found myself struggling with. I started reading books by Alice Miller: The untouched key, banished knowledge, the truth will set you free and drama of the gifted child. Anyway, what I started to realize as a new mom was that there was a lot of unresolved and buried trauma in my body. Some things I remembered, others i repressed. I learned that these memories are stored in our bodies at a cellular level, it becomes our makeup. Another book that i would recommend is "the body remembers" (babette rothschild?) she discusses a lot of different types of somatic therapies - you might find it interesting. However, nothing surpasses the actual work. The work you do with your therapist so I wish you luck and release and the letting go of whatever it is your body keeps reminding you not to forget.

    With much love and hopeful healing,

  2. Thank you so much, Julie. Such a wonderful set of things about you I didn't know that connect us only more - Alice Miller's book has been powerful for me, too, for years. I have never heard of the body remembers - I will check it out but, as you say, the work is what counts!