Biocentric therapy tends to see “symptoms” as representing undesirable “solutions” to real problems arising in the course of the individual’s development. The blocking or disowning of feelings, for example, can have obvious short-term functional utility for a child struggling to survive in a terrifying and painful environment — even though there are very real long-term dangers in learning this strategy.
The goal-directed character of “neurotic symptoms” cannot be adequately understood without an appreciation of a human being’s need of self-esteem and the profound role this plays in his development. Self-esteem is defined in Biocentric Therapy as the experience that one is competent to live and worthy of living.
As a being with the ability to seek awareness or to avoid it, to exercise his mind or to suspend it,he carries the responsibility of knowing the his method of functioning is appropriate to reality,to the requirements of survival and well-being,to the need of self-esteem. Self-esteem is seen as varying inversely with reality-avoidance strategies.
Virtually all techniques aim at making the client conscious of reality avoidance strategies, conscious of the goal such avoidance strategies are intended to fulfill; they aim further at opening awareness to alternative pathways to well-being.
Methods to achieve this vary from a variety of emotional-release processes, to psychodrama,to fantasy exercises,to breathing exercises, to homework assignments, to designed experiments with new types of behavior,to what is perhaps the most distinctive technique used in Biocentric therapy: sentence-completion work. In this technique, the client is given a sentence stem and asked to keep repeating the stem with new endings.Then a new stem is provided, building on clues suggested by the earlier responses, and so on, taking the client deeper and deeper into his feelings.This results in an explosion of awareness that is simultaneously cognitive and experiential.
The primary values transmitted in Biocentric therapy are those of self awareness, self-acceptance, self-responsibility, self-assertion, and personal integrity, all of which are seen as being indispensable to self-esteem.
Biocentric therapy differs from cognitive-oriented therapies in its heavy emphasis upon emotional-release work and emotional self-awareness. It differs from the emotion-oriented therapies in its heavy emphasis on the cognitive component of learning and growth.
It is easy enough to pay lip service to the ideal of integrating thought and feeling, mind and body in the course of doing therapy. It is unlikely that any psychotherapist would dispute the desirability of this ideal. However, psychologists who emphasize the intellect,cognition, reason, often tend to take a disparaging attitude toward emotions. On the other hand,psychologists who emphasize emotions and specialize in emotional-re lease types of therapy tend to be hostile to reason and the intellect, though there are exceptions. Biocentric therapy does not sharply dichotomize conscious and subconscious, but thinks instead in levels of awareness or unawareness and holds that the making conscious of material viewed as profoundly subconscious is not nearly as difficult as certain schools, notably psychoanalysis, seem to believe.
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