What do we mean by emotional pain? Emotional pain happens as a result of not having needs met: nobody has a perfect childhood, but when you're neglected, abused or abandoned, pain and neurosis result. It is simply that a child needs to be loved, and to know that he or she is loved. Any child who undergoes something different from this, has to construct defences to survive - for instance, burying the pain under denial - pretending that nothing is wrong. This can be done in many, many ways - by denial, compliance, rebellion, aggression, even by fantasizing.
How long does therapy take? There is no simple answer to this question. A few people leave after a few months, satisfied with what they have done and not wanting to do any more. A few people stay with us for many years, working towards a difficult resolution of a particular pain. In general, people take between two and five years in therapy, according to what they feel they need, and there is no way for us to judge prior to your starting therapy how long you may need. Some of the indicators are:
- the level of pain you are dealing with. But some things may be completely hidden when you start, and only come to light after some time in therapy.
- the age and developmental stage at which your major traumas occurred. In general, the earlier the trauma, the longer it takes to resolve it in therapy, because at those early stages of life you have fewer resources to cope with what happens to you.
- regular contact with your therapist, to ensure that you build on the progress that you make in each session. Change has to take place gradually in order to be sustainable. Overdosing on therapy doesn't work, and coming along every six months might work for you, but only very slowly.
- the type of defences you have constructed to protect yourself from your pain, how well they work, whether they are acceptable socially and legally.
- how you have treated your defences; for instance, sometimes drugs will shatter defences so effectively that the work is tripled in length.
- the integration of the insights and connections you make in your therapy into your everyday life. This is key - you can have lots of feelings and lots of insights, and if you don't apply them to your life in the way you need to, nothing will change. Attending therapy won't change your life on its own.
What if I live far away from south east England? Intensive therapy always takes place in Brighton or Haywards Heath, but follow-up therapy may be done over the phone, and some people also book regular intensive weeks with us. Over the years, we have developed ways of working which enable people to work as effectively at long distance as in face to face sessions, although it may not suit everyone. If you don't want to go down that route, we may be able to help you find a therapist more local to you, through one of the organisations we belong to.
What is buddying? Buddying is a form of mutual self-help between two people. The object is to be a friendly, sympathetic ear, speaking up if you don't understand or can't hear. Usually, as when people work with therapists, buddies get into old feelings. But this is not necessarily so, and sometimes people may just want to talk, whether about their past or their present-day life, and of course this must be respected. It is often helpful to you both to spend some time after you have buddied giving feedback on what you feel was going on.
Buddying is an integral part of Primal Therapy, and fits well into the therapeutic structure, enabling you to take more direct control over your own therapy, though we ask all prospective buddies to first talk with their therapist. And just as in the rest of your therapy, you are responsible for yourself - no one else - neither your therapist nor your buddy partner.
Sometimes people start buddying almost by accident, especially if they have a close friend or partner who is also in therapy, though they may soon decide they are not ready for it. Usually, however, we have recommended that people start buddying in group, which has many advantages: the group atmosphere can be very affecting, help from a therapist is still available in postgroup and the facilities of a professional therapy centre (especially soundproofing) are still available to you.
When clients feel they would like to think about starting to buddy, there is a paper available to flesh out these and other points; these paragraphs are taken from the beginning of that paper.
What about other therapies? Some therapies co-exist extremely well with Primal Therapy - herbalism, cranial osteopathy and EMDR, to name just a few. Others can present some problems, but we recommend that you talk this through with us before you start. Most other therapeutic work can also be helpful primally with a few adjustments - in sessions with us, people have worked successfully with feelings brought up by meditation, hypnosis and massage, to name just a few.
What about safety?
- Signing on with a doctor. We encourage everyone who has not already done so to sign on with a local GP of their choice. This is about learning to care for yourself, and has a practical level too: when you really need a GP, its often the very worst time to go looking for one.
- Drugs. While many people who complete Primal Therapy successfully have used recreational drugs in their past, it cannot be overstated that recreational drugs, whether marijuana, LSD or ecstasy, do not mix with Primal Therapy. In therapy, the client is searching for the pain that took root during childhood, in order to remove it. If drugs are taken during this process, very often the client is taken' to the same place, to the same pains, but because this is done chemically, there is no control, and the natural gating system does not work. We do know of cases where temporary drug psychosis has sometimes been the result.
- Escape hatches. This describes a process we use to help people who are learning to keep themselves safe. As babies and children, we had our own escape methods - from rocking in a cot, to running away, to climbing trees, to sitting and crying quietly, and many more besides. As adults, some of these may become very destructive and self-destructive: running away, for example, might become driving a car at 100mph when upset or angry. We help people to recognise what these behaviours might be for them, so that they can close them down safely - "closing the escape hatch" - and feeling the primal feeling much more deeply and safely as a result.
What is self-primalling? Some people would like to always feel their feelings alone, and we strongly recommend that this should not be the only therapy you have. Feeling a feeling alone is fine, but if you always do that, and never buddy and never see a therapist, you should be aware that you may be carrying on your childhood process of seeming not to need (and actually not having) anyone else. Its important to have another human being listening to you, for we need to create and live a different, more healthy situation than that early solitude. We make sounds, whether in speech or in feelings, to communicate, to reach out to other people.
On a practical level, too, its important - being with someone can be crucial when the feelings themselves are frightening, and talking to someone will not only give you a focus and make it harder to avoid feelings, but will also help you feel safer and ground you.
Where can I stay in Brighton? In our links page, we have several listings for guest houses and hotels. As Brighton is a holiday town, there is a huge selection here, and you can see nearly all of them on the internet.
Please note our intensive fees, like our other fees, do not include accommodation.