About Primal Integration Therapy
Jun 30, 2014 10:17AM
● By Barbara A. Bryan
Primal therapy had its beginnings in 1970 with Arthur Janov, through his book The PrimalScream. While the International Primal Association (IPA) appreciates Janov’s contribution, its members have moved away from the rigidity of some of his views. The IPA uses the term “primal integration” and describes its mission as follows: “When human beings function as an integrated whole, they easily display peacefulness, openness, joy, and clarity. We believe that primal healing is usually essential to regain such wholeness.” Founded in 1973, the IPA offers a week-long summer convention/retreat, and this year’s retreat, held August 25 to 31, is at the rural Linwood MacDonald YMCA Camp and Conference Center, 1 Flatbrook Road, in Sandyston. Everyone is welcome to experience primal work and enjoy workshops, group work, and fun. Social workers who attend can earn CEUs.
Primal integration is based on a natural phenomenon that has been recognized and used sporadically in the past. Briefly, it is a letting go of conscious controls of the body and emotions, which opens the unconscious to awareness. This allows healing insights to emerge. Primal integration practicetaps into the worksof Mesmer, Charcot, Liebeault,Janet, Breuer, Freud, Reich, Rank, Jung, Perls, Lake, Swartley, Farrant, Grof and Janov. To quote Arthur Janov, “A Primal experience is the reliving of those early life events during which the child turned off his primal needs and pains and developed a personality split and an unreal self.”
There is a “knowing’ inside each of us about what we need to do to become more whole and actualize our potential. This “knowing” is part of the power within us all, the inner child, thespark of self that we need to acknowledge and nurture. There are various ways to get in touch with this source of inner strength; some are spontaneous and some are guided. In primal integration, we learn to “trust the process,” and eventually to trust our own inner wisdom to guide us on our journey.
A primal can be described as a feeling experience that may start with a here-and-now distress, such as being upset and angry with an authority figure. As clients are encouraged to express feelings of anger, resentment, stress, etc., they may find the feelings really taking over. There usually is a sense of giving oneself permission to “go with it.” In the process, there may be a flash or vision from the past. In this case, it could be a parental figure and may be a memory scene. Then, if the client feels safe enough, he or she may re-experience a traumatic event and release the feelings from the past. A connection is made between that scene and the present. This generally releases the energy from the current situation, allowing the client to function better. The more we can release our anger and pain, the more we can open up to love and our own Power within.
The IPA realizes experientially that regression and releasing deeply held repressed memories is healing on a core level. Now science is catching up and validating the IPA’s beliefs, proposing that traumatic, repressed memories are held in the deepest recesses of the brain (the amygdala), and an intense cathartic experience will release them to consciousness. Once released and acknowledged, the energy and hold they had over one’s life is ended. Often this is an “aha” experience, leading to life changes in dramatic but usually subtle ways.
Barbara A. Bryan, MA, MSW, is the director of the Primal Integration Center of Michigan.
For more information, call 1-877-PRIMALS (774-6257) or [email protected]