A Host of Psychotherapeutic Modalities

Home » Uncategorized » A Host of Psychotherapeutic Modalities
We have been on the path of personal growth since the beginning of our relationship in 1972. Our academic training reflects this interest: Brian’s bachelor’s

work at Eastern Connecticut State University was in Sociology and Applied Social Relations, his Masters in Social Work from the University of Connecticut; Holly’s bachelor’s work at Goddard College was in Women’s Studies, her Masters in Counseling Psychology also from the University of Connecticut. However, we both found the wealth of our training and experience to come from outside the academic environment. After explorations into the conventional talk therapies of the era, Holly was inspired to dive into Primal Therapy in 1973. Brian followed suit shortly thereafter.

Primal Therapy was one of the earliest psychotherapeutic approaches that focused upon feeling feelings. A refreshing change from talk therapies, Primal Therapy, originated by Arthur Janov, used a combination of stimulation deprivation (no contact with others, little sleep, no distractions such as television or reading) with an intensive course of therapy encompassing daily sessions of several hours over the course of 3-4 weeks. The premise was that deprived of our usual coping mechanisms, suppressed emotional issues from childhood would surface and become available for resolution.

Entering into the leading edge psychotherapeutic world through Primal Therapy, we found ourselves immersed in the numerous new approaches birthed during the years of the’60s and ’70s. Bioenergetics introduced us to the concept of bodywork.

Bioenergetics, developed by Alexander Lowen from the work of Wilhelm Reich, used a system of body analysis to ascertain where the body was holding onto suppressed emotional issues. The notion of “body armor” as a protective strategy describes how an individual’s musculature, weight build-up in certain areas, posture, etc. can give clues to psychological dynamics. Bioenergetics also included a series of exercises designed to free up areas of the body that typically hold trauma. Deep emotional expression was commonly stimulated by the exercises.

Psychodrama, developed by Jacob Moreno, was an innovative approach that combined the device of the theatre with group psychotherapy. The therapist was the director, while the client played whatever role was pertinent to the issue at hand and others filled in with roles as required or made up the audience.

Gestalt Therapy, developed by Fritz Perls, is an approach that has maintained strong support and interest for its efficacy into the new millenium. Some of the basic strategies it has contributed to the psychotherapeutic realm include the concept of role-play and 2-chair work where the client plays the role of the parent/boss/spouse, etc. in one chair and maintains their own identity in the other. 2-Chair work is also a profound way to clarify different aspects of the self.

During the ’70s, we also became enamoured with Transactional Analysis which would be our primary modality in our professional work into the late ’80s.

Transactional Analysis (TA), developed by Eric Berne, became popular in mainstream culture through Berne’s bestseller Games People Play and Thomas Harris’ I’m OK, You’re OK. This was the first psychotherapeutic approach designed for the layperson to understand and use on their own and as such, made an enormous contribution to demystifying psychotherapy for the layperson. This in turn contributed to the cultural shift away from being in therapy as something to hide to something increasingly mainstream. TA also used group therapy as a foundation, rather than the conventional individual therapy, in order to make use of the interactions going on in the group as material to explore personal issues.

In the early ’80s, Holly became a practitioner in Neuro-Linguistic Programming, a modality that also has sustained great respect in the psychotherapeutic community.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), developed by Richard Bandler and John Grinder, was a brilliant exploration into uncharted territory. Bandler and Grinder made careful observations of some of the acknowledged most effective therapists of the time, such as Milton Erikson, Virginia Satir, and Fritz Perls. They discovered patterns of language that were common amongst these therapists that they believed were at the root of their effectiveness with clients. They developed NLP based upon the premise that these patterns could be learned by other therapists. NLP also includes several strategies that are highly effective in brief therapy such as re-framing and anchoring.

In the mid ’90s, Brian became a Level II practitioner in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), developed by Francine Shapiro, made significant in-roads into resolving post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for people who had suffered for years without relief from other therapies. A brief therapy that reorganizes how we hold memories from the current, “fight or flight” area of the brain to the non-emotionally charged, narrative area of the brain, EMDR has proven to be highly effective for war veterans, abuse survivors, and accident survivors. EMDR is evolving as a tool useful in spiritual development, for example, in removing blocks to intimate sexual connection and facilitating meditative process.

As parents, we have always been interested in optimal healthy approaches to raising children. Along with our professional training, we have explored the work of many great visionaries of our time in the realm of education. John Holt, father of the homeschool movement, John Taylor Gatto, brilliant commentator on public education, democratic education and homeschooling, and Daniel Greenberg, founder of Sudbury Valley School have all been inspiring articulators of optimal environments for young people in today’s world. In 1991, we joined with five other parents to found Greenwood Sudbury School in Hampton, CT so that our daughter, for whom homeschooling was not a match as it had been for our son, could enjoy the wonderful benefits of a Sudbury education. These interests led us to the work of Dawna Markova and her model called Personal Thinking Patterns.

Personal Thinking Patterns (PTP) further evolves the concept of learning styles based upon sensory patterns. Markova delineates six patterns using the various combinations of the visual, auditory and kinesthetic senses with the beta, alpha and theta brain-wave states. The result is a fascinating framework through which to observe how someone relates in their world, in a learning situation, in a conversation, in orienting to a new environment, etc. This model goes a long way in building understanding and therefore tolerance of another’s differences, and opens up new strategies for resolving challenging issues such learning to read, speaking in public, or relationship impasses.

During the late ’80s and ’90s Brian’s interests

bridged into the “soul work” of the Men’s Movement. An early presenter and participant in the Connecticut Men’s Gathering (COMEGA), he was inspired by the work of Robert Bly, James Hillman, Michael Meade, and Robert Moore. He also served on the Board of Directors of the “Boys to Men” mentoring project.

Our explorations into the realm of Tantra bring us full circle with Holly’s interest in sexuality and sex therapy back in the mid ’70s. As a member of the Women’s Health Collective at the University of Connecticut Women’s Center, Holly gained enormous experience working with women in the areas of reproductive health and sexuality. Extensive study into the work of William Masters and Virginia Johnson led to the work of Betty Dodson and Lonnie Garfield Barbach, all of whom inspired Holly’s work with pre-orgasmic women. More recently, the work of David Schnarch and Ruth Morehouse has confirmed the growing readiness of our culture to take the next step beyond the Sexual Revolution of the ’60s, which brought sexuality out of the closet. The time is ripe for our culture to embrace sexuality as the powerful doorway it is to deeper intimacy than most of us have yet to imagine, with the potential for profound spiritual transformation. It is truly a joy to complete this circle. The mystery of sexuality that in the past was fraught with confusion and frustration has now transformed into a mystery of excitement and wonder!

Currently, we are students of Margot An and, international teacher of Skydancing Tantra, whose phenomenal books, The Art of Sexual Ecstasy and The Art of Everyday Ecstasy are major contributions to the Tantric literature accessible to western students. In addition, Steve and Lokita Carter, Skydancing Tantra teachers of Margot’s lineage have provided us with enormous inspiration and learning. We feel such appreciation for all of our teachers through the years who have supported our eternally expanding wonder and joy in life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current day month ye@r *

Our Practice

Ecstatic Marriage and Family Institute of Fenton River Center

Brian Ahern and Holly Rawson
667 Chaffeeville Road
Storrs, CT 06268

Tel: 860-429-7945

Map To Our Office

Tantra for Everyone - Storrs, Connecticut