PRIMAL INTEGRATION THERAPY
by Barbara A. Bryan
Primal Therapy was introduced in 1970 in the book titled, “The Primal Scream,” by Arthur Janov. While the International Primal Association appreciates his contribution, they have moved away from the rigidity of some of his views. The International Primal Association (IPA) has adopted the term, “Primal Integration” to describe its beliefs and practices.
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 insights to emerge which have a healing value. Primal is rooted in the work by Mesmer, Charcot, Liebeault,Janet, Breuer, Freud, Reich, Rank, Jung, Perls, Lake, Swartley, Farrant, Grof and 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," states Arthur Janov. "This 'knowing' is part of the power within us all, the inner child, the spark 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, 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 the client is encouraged to express their feelings of anger, etc., they may find the feelings really taking over. There usually is a sense of giving oneself permission to “go with it.” During that 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/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 will release the energy from the current situation and the client is able to function better. Through the release of anger and pain, the client can open up more to his/her love and personal 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 their beliefs. They now propose 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 and life changes in dramatic but usually subtle ways.
The IPA was founded in 1973 and has been active with a week-long summer convention/retreat every summer. This year’s summer convention will be at the rural Linwood MacDonald YMCA Camp and Conference Center, 1 Flatbrook Road in Sandyston, New Jersey. Everyone is welcome to come and experience primal work and enjoy various relevant workshops, group work, and fun. Social Workers can earn CEUs.
Call or email for more information: 1-877-PRIMALS or [email protected] Also check out the Summer Convention ad on page ##.
Barbara A. Bryan, MA, MSW, Director of The Primal Integration Center of Michigan