Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Howard Widdicombe BSC (Hons) Behavioural Science; Post Grad Dip. Psychotherapy
12th July, 2008
In recent years Formative Psychology as pioneered by Stanley Keleman at the Centre for Energetic Studies in Berkely California has particularly interested me and become my main focus of professional study. I use formative psychology to seek to understand human experience from an anatomical perspective.
The essence of formative psychology is the principle that the thoughts, emotions, traumas and psychodynamics of the mind are also encoded in the body. The view that the body is the basis of experience is supported by a practical methodology that teaches people how to influence their own behaviour and the way they function.
I work through visualization, expression, bodywork (the use of muscular tone),breathing, physiology and cognitive tools & techniques in order to help to re- organize attitudes, beliefs and behaviours where desired and relevant.
Formative psychology works with the neurobiology (biology, physiology, neurology,chemistry and psychology) of learning and behaviour - the fundamental processes in physical somatic patterns that underpin thinking, feeling, the experiences we have of
ourselves, the world in which we live and our behavioural responses.
Formative psychology focuses on:
(a) learning about the organisation of our own process
(b) reorganising ourselves through changing the way we relate to ourselves
Working experientially is, I believe, the most effective way of embodying learning. Knowledge and insight are desirable but they do not, without experience, of themselves lead to sustainable
personal growth, change and development.
Anatomical activity is the basic essence of what makes us human beings. Pulsatory movements in our cell structures stimulate the synapses in our body and brain that transmit information along the pathways of our central nervous system and form the basis of neural activity, muscular effort, cortical mapping (thinking), emotions and our behavioural responses to our experience of ourselves, others and the world around us.
The brain is the central balance organ. It constantly co-ordinates the organism it inhabits (us!) with the outside world. If there is a discrepancy within ourselves, with others or with the environment in which we live, anatomical activity occurs which stimulates the participation of our cognitive, emotional, and somatic selves to deal with this ‘stress’. Without the involvement of all these processes it is impossible to establish a lasting learning pattern. Re-organisation and learning requires positive interventions into our established patterns of thinking, feeling, and physical organisation. By paying detailed attention to, and building our understanding of how we organise ourselves to have the experiences we do, we can learn to differentiate more effectively between the somatic, cognitive, emotional and behavioural patterns that work for us and those that don't. Life is an ongoing organising and formative process. If we can develop and deepen our understanding of how this process works we can begin to use voluntary muscular effort to differentiate how we experience and respond to life. Through constant repetition, variation and positive reinforcement of the response patterns we want we can begin to influence and affect the way we experience ourselves internally and externally. Taking responsibility for ourselves in this way enables us to lead our lives in a more resourceful way.This powerful synergistic combination brings about rapid, gentle and deep change – much faster than by using verbal methods alone. We can change behaviours that no longer serve us and form and embody a more emotionally integrated, satisfying, enriching and fulfilling way of organising and living our life. Life transitions and crises can be used as a challenge to form new personalised responses.
Stress is a part of life and something we all experience as human beings. Understanding the psychology of stress and knowing more about how an organism adapts itself under pressure is helpful in dealing with stress related symptoms such as nervousness, sleep problems, headaches or eczema, allergies etc. We can learn
through simple exercises ways to influence stress and anxiety, to experience the relationship between pressure and symptoms. Supporting our boundaries and physical structure helps us feel less helpless and will affect our symptoms.
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