Asklepia Monograph Series
“Journey to the Healing Heart of Your Dreams”

Counseling Philosophy
and the Consciousness Restructuring Process

by Iona Miller and Graywolf Swinney
Asklepia Foundation, ©2000

Abstract:  The Consciousness Restructuring Process (CRP) is rarely practiced in isolation from simple counseling, formal or informal.  CRP has roots in a multidisciplinary approach which includes the psychodynamics of Freud and Jung, as well as the humanistic/existential school, in particular the techniques of Transactional Analysis and Gestalt.  The work on childhood development by Piaget, Erickson, and Alice Miller is also pertinent.  Adult developmental theories of transpersonalists Maslow, Houston, and Gowan also describe some important aspects of this treatment philosophy.  As an eclectic approach, CRP is not limited to these, and each practitioner will no doubt pick a variety of therapies of choice from the entire gamut, including so-called shamanic techniques.  Consciousness journeys are not necessarily employed each session. This paper attempts to provide a skeletal background of the basic philosophical roots of CRP as they relate to the counseling practice of this process of natural healing.
Keywords: Freud, Jung, Berne, Perls, Miller, Erikson, Piaget, libido, psychodynamics, Gestalt, Transactional Analysis, Depth Psychology, childhood, fetal development, REM, dreams, psychosomatic families, psychosomatic disorders, chaos theory, Chaosophy, shamanism, dreamwork, co-consciousness, consciousness journeys, placebo effect, trauma, psychotherapy .


To be firmly grounded, any psychological process should have not only a clearly codified description of its practice, but also a solid psychological theory behind it which gives it a reason for being and for considering it in lieu of other treatments.  The subconscious or unconscious is deep and convoluted.  A means of opening a window into its mysteries provides us with a positive way of implementing change in our lives.  These journeys are a means of reconnecting with our healing source.

The roots of the Consciousness Restructuring Process (CRP) can be traced back to Freud who “discovered” the nature of our unconscious instincts and motivations. Jung explored this depth dimension with an eye for archetypal, mythological, and religious imagery, rather than with the psychosexual emphasis of Freud.

They (Freud and Jung) agreed that the psychobiological dynamics of human beings represents a complex, fluid state of being wherein both childhood experiences and transpersonal forces impinge on individuals, influencing their beliefs, thoughts, feelings, behavior, and general health.  They agreed on the concept of libido, or psychic energy, which can either be free flowing and growth-oriented or repressed, “frozen,” regressive, and unconsciously creating disturbances and disease.  They agreed that unconscious influences color the nature of positive and negative identifications and projections.  They both agreed on the central role of dreams in revealing the psychobiological unconscious, that dreams are a “royal road to the unconscious.”

Freud created a frame of reference through his extensive writings for conceptualizing the emotional and irrational feelings underlying behavior. Freud’s was one of the most complex organizations of human behavior ever set down in theory.  Jung took his ideas even further, beyond id, ego, and superego toward experiential exploration into the transpersonal realm, largely through the process of a waking dream, an inner journey.

The field constantly evolves from this taproot, revisioning psychodynamic theory from a number of perspectives and practices. The neo-Freudians include Alfred Adler, Eric Erikson, Karen Horney, Melanie Klein, Heinz Kohut, and Harry Stack Sullivan.  Freud was also a profound influence on Fritz Perls (Gestalt therapy), Alexander Lowen (bioenergetics), and Eric Berne (transactional analysis).  Psychodynamic theory is broader than Freud’s foundational view; the various points of view share commonalities which can be summarized in the following few key points:

1.  Client developmental history is important and needs to be considered for full client understanding.  Freud is often considered the first developmental psychologist.  Basic to his orientation and the psychodynamic frame of reference is the importance of childhood experience in determining how we act and behave in the present.

2.  Important in our developmental history are the key people we have related with over time -- our object relations.  In psychodynamic language, object relations is the term given relationships with people and important objects in our life.  We develop in relationship to people -- our family, friends, and peers.  There is an individual, family, and multicultural or collective unconscious.  There is not just individual life experience, but also intergenerational family themes.

3.  We are unaware (unconscious) of the impact of biological needs, of past developmental object relations, and of cultural determinants in our present behavior.  The unconscious is the reservoir of our memories, biological, and collective drives, most of which we are unaware of.  We are each a psychobiological whole composed of instinctual, egoic , and transpersonal drives.  We create defense mechanisms to protect our egos and self-esteem.  Trust and control are central issues which can be related to the earliest relationships with caregivers and the environment.

4.  We constantly act out in our daily lives our developmental history and our unconscious biological drives.  From the psychodynamic frame of reference, we are heavily ruled, sometimes even completely determined, by forces outside our awareness.  However, some psychodynamic theories claim biology is central in unconscious development, whereas others focus more on life-span developmental issues.  Increasingly, the influence of multicultural factors in unconscious development is being recognized.

5.  The task of counseling and therapy is to help the client discover the unconscious roots of present behavior.  Through psychodynamic techniques and concepts, such as free association, interpretation, and analysis of transference, we can help the client discover and understand the background of present behavior, thoughts, and feelings.  Jung also employed dreamwork, and the amplification of multicultural and archetypal imagery of the collective unconscious.

Differences of opinion in the psychodynamic community continue to lead to its evolution.  Thus, we see dreamwork integrated in with other techniques of Gestalt, and interpretation carried forth more systematically in transactional analysis.  The multicultural approach reminds us that cultural and family roots must be part of an overall treatment conceptualization.

One criticism from the multicultural perspective of the therapies developed around Freud and Jung is that they are highly verbal, generally expensive, and long lasting.  This makes them unavailable to the vast majority other than the affluent.  Both also place major emphasis on the individual as primary. In this way, they disenfranchise the special needs of children, those whose cultures are less verbal and more family-oriented, and in many cases, women.

The traumatization of children, which takes an inevitable toll on society, was not fully recognized by either Freud or Jung.  Freud changed his early position of recognizing its importance to one of labeling it as repressed fantasies and delusions of grandeur on the part of children whose unconscious complexes made them make false accusations.  Jung was interested in complexes also, but had limited interest in the development of children, being generally more interested in the second half of life.

Alice Miller and Virginia Satir brought the effects of abusive and unintentional cruelty to the attention of the psychotherapeutic community, and to parents everywhere in such works as For Your Own Good (Miller, 1983) and Peoplemaking (Satir, 19  ).  They stressed that parenting or child-rearing practices as they had been conceived for perhaps hundreds of years were basically flawed and influential in producing both neuroses and psychoses.

They saw the family as a dynamic system, from which one “troublemaker” or diseased individual could not be isolated for treatment.  The approach is one of self-in-relation.  They stressed that children are individuals, too, who deserve respect and conscientious care.  Miller clarified and amplified her meaning about the importance of  self-esteem and integrity from the earliest moments of life:

1.  All children are born to grow, to develop, to live, to love, and to articulate their needs and feelings for their self-protection.

2.  For their development, children need the respect and protection of adults who take them seriously, love them, and honestly help them to become oriented in the world.

3.  When these vital needs are frustrated and children are, instead, abused for the sake of adults’ needs by being exploited, beaten, punished, taken advantage of, manipulated, neglected, or deceived without the intervention of any witness, then their integrity will be lastingly impaired.

4.  The normal reactions to such injury should be anger and pain.  Since children in this hurtful kind of environment are forbidden to express their anger, however, and since it would be unbearable to experience their pain all alone, they are compelled to suppress their feelings, repress all memory of the trauma, and idealize those guilty of the abuse.  Later they will have little or no memory of what was done to them.

5.  Dissociated from the original cause, their feelings of anger, helplessness, despair, longing, anxiety, and pain will find expression in destructive acts against others (criminal behavior, mass murder) or against themselves (drug addiction, alcoholism, prostitution, dysfunctionality, psychic disorders, suicide).

6.  If these people become parents, they will then often direct acts of revenge for their mistreatment in childhood against their own children, whom they use as scapegoats.  Child abuse is still sanctioned--indeed, held in high regard--in our society as long as it is defined as child-rearing.  It is a tragic fact that parents beat or otherwise abuse their children in order to escape the emotions stemming from how they were treated by their own parents.

7.  If mistreated children are not to become criminals or mentally ill, it is essential that at least once in their life they come in contact with a person who knows without any doubt that the environment, not the helpless, battered child, is at fault.  In this regard, knowledge or ignorance on the part of society can be instrumental in either saving or destroying a life.  Here lies the great opportunity for relatives, social workers, therapists, teachers, doctors, psychiatrists, officials, and nurses to support the child and to believe her or him.

8.  Till now [written as of 1980, prior to the generalization of recovery movements and the wide dissemination of the concept of dysfunctional families], society has protected the adult and blamed the victim.  It has been abetted in its blindness by theories, still in keeping with the pedagogical principles of our great-grandparents, according to which children are viewed as crafty creatures, dominated by wicked drives, who invent stories and attack their innocent parents or desire them sexually.  In reality, children tend to blame themselves for their parents’ cruelty and to absolve the parents, whom they invariably love, of all responsibility.

9.  For some years now, it has been possible to prove, through new therapeutic methods that repressed traumatic experiences of childhood are stored up in the body and, though unconscious, exert an influence even in adulthood.  In addition, electronic testing of the fetus has revealed a fact previously unknown to most adults--that a child responds to and learns both tenderness and cruelty from the very beginning.

10.  In the light of this new knowledge, even the most absurd behavior reveals its formerly hidden logic once the traumatic experiences of childhood need no longer remain shrouded in darkness.

11.  Our sensitization to the cruelty with which children are treated, until now commonly denied, and to the consequences of such treatment will as a matter of course bring to an end the perpetuation of violence from generation to generation.

12.  People whose integrity has not been damaged in childhood, who were protected, respected, and treated with honesty by their parents, will be -- both in their youth -- and in their adulthood -- intelligent, responsive, empathic, and highly sensitive.  They will take pleasure in life and will not feel any need to kill or even hurt others or themselves.  They will use their power to defend themselves, not to attack others.  They will not be able to do otherwise than respect and protect those weaker than themselves, including their children, because this is what they have learned from their own experience, and because it is this knowledge (and not the experience of cruelty) that has been stored up inside them from the beginning.  It will be inconceivable to such people that earlier generations had to build up a gigantic war industry in order to feel comfortable and safe in this world.  Since it will not be their unconscious drive in life to ward off intimidation experienced at a very early age, they will be able to deal with attempts at intimidation in their adult life more rationally and more creatively. (Miller, 1980).

Alice Miller was apparently optimistic about the future of any society which could implement these simple truths.  The recovery movements made self-esteem, personal responsibility, and dysfunctionality household words.  Nevertheless, the implementation of these precepts on any broad scale has been slow.  It has spread through workshops in Parent Effectiveness Training (PET) with its emphasis on active listening to the true feelings of others, but family patterns run deep.  Even when there isn't overt cruelty, children still suffer from their families’ intergenerational problems, and are manipulated and put into double binds by the exigencies of daily life, such as unwanted pregnancies, parental personality styles, poverty, and divorce.

The developmental roots of dysfunctional behavior lie in anxiety and defense mechanisms, which arise from experiences which induce fear and pain.  They echo in developmental personality styles, and issues of trust, control, and dependency.

Developmental ecologist, John Bowlby created attachment theory to describe the primary mother-child relationship, so fundamental in becoming one’s own person and gaining confidence to meet the world (i.e. attachment-separation).  His research revealed that the children’s pattern of attachment in the early months is highly predictive of later adjustment.  Specific examples follow:

1.  The pattern of attachment identified at twelve months is still present at six years.

2.  Children identified as securely attached are found to be described in nursery school three and half years later as cheerful, cooperative, and popular, whereas anxious avoidant and anxious resistant patterns of attachment are described as emotionally insulated, hostile, and antisocial.

3.  Children who are securely attached in early life are later found to respond to failure with increased effort, whereas the less securely attached do the opposite, (separation anxiety).

4.  We might add, at the far end of the spectrum, the child with attachment disorder, which is a failure of the natural bonding process and can result in defensive antisocial and even sociopathic personality style.

Shortly after the death of his father, Freud moved away from a consideration of child abuse and substituted his “fantasy theory” in its place; the child was believed to have imagined the abuse.  This notion has been strongly overturned (Schiff).  All caregivers -- mother, father, extended family, nursery school, child care providers --and so on, have demonstrable impact on children’s growth and development.  It manifests through positive and negative projective identifications.

The Family Connection

A family does not need to be overtly abusive to be inherently dysfunctional.  Neurotic transactional patterns within the family can induce a range of negative psychophysical reactions.  Dysfunctional families can visit a wide range of family symptoms and psychosomatic syndromes on their progeny, including anorexia, schizophrenia, paranoid, schizoid, antisocial, borderline, histrionic, narcissistic, avoidant, dependent, obsessive-compulsive, and passive-aggressive disorders. Even dreams should be related to the family structure, not just to the individual.

Although the term “psychosomatic” is usually used to describe a disease (process) it is commonly accepted that there are physical factors in the cause.  It is less commonly understood that the body’s response to harmful stimuli is also “psychosomatic” in that there are both physical and psychological components in the response, (Cartmel, 1986).

When a client understands that the presenting symptom is a “response,” not “the disease,” and is ready to look for a possible cause in the process, the disease equation can be put to use.  In CRP, the client may experientially discover how unpleasant thought, feeling, and body responses leads to a fixed body response, which defines the problem.

Frequently, the significant contained feeling is experienced at the site of the presenting body response (symptom).  In psychosomatic disease the potency of the stimulus is important, not the cause of the stimulus.  The potency of the stimulus depends on the degree of imbalance between demands and resources.

Before making a treatment decision it is important to assess demands and resources by looking at both external or situational factors and personal internal factors that may influence options for creating and dealing with external factors.  Usually internal factors determine the existence or significance of external factors.  What is an incapacitating catastrophe for one person may be a positive challenge for another.

An approach to physical and emotional dysfunction views disease as a response to various factors which collectively create a stimulus, and it is the individual pattern of responses that largely determines if and how dysfunction or disease becomes manifest.

Reaction patterns begin in the womb and are visible in infants who tend to be easily overstimulated by the world around them and cannot remain calm, and those who tend to remain calm but hard to interest in their surroundings. (Greenspan, 1985).

Hyperexcitable or overstimulated babies seem irritable much of the time, tend to be “colicky,” pull away, stiffen their muscles, arch their backs, and often cry or panic more when attempts are made to console them.  The hypo-arousable baby seems calm and well regulated, but is hard to get interested in the world, has poor muscle tone, may under-respond to stroking, vocalizations, and rhythmic movement.

For the overly excitable baby, even the mother’s voice may be a painful experience, as they tend to be hypersensitive in one or more sensory modalities.  Normal lighting may cause the baby physical pain and emotional distress.  The hypo-arousable baby under-responds to sensory stimuli in one or more modes.  Fortunately, most babies outgrow these patterns, but in some instances, sensitivities prevent a baby from learning to regulate itself and take an interest in the world--making the next stage, falling in love, more difficult.

Some babies who are not born with any special sensitivities may develop the same reactions.  A serious illness or unsupportive parents or babysitters, such as those who are either anxious or very depressed, can be the cause.  The baby’s reactions may be quite specific.

However, in adults the identified cause of the stimulus is often not the significant cause of the stimulus.  When the therapeutic contract is for an internal audit, transactional analysis (TA) is ideal.  The concepts of drivers, blockers, and scripts are basic to TA and easily understood.  The client should be told clearly that tissue damage requires tissue treatment, whether with natural, chemical, or mechanical means.

Psychosomatic disease processes are usually open to intervention and cure by natural means, rather than just control by chemical or mechanical means.  But, as long as disease is regarded as an entity rather than a response process, then the option for further investigation is eliminated.

Commonly accepted examples of psychosomatic diseases are some forms of migraine, asthma, duodenal ulcer, irritable bowel syndrome, hypertension, paroxysmal auticular tachycardia, psoriasis, eczema, neurodermatitis, and pre-menstrual tension, recurrent breast cysts, non-infective prostatitis, and inevitably some cancer, although the fact is that there is a psychological component to all disease.

Gerald Cartmel (1986), a physician and TA counselor, outlines principles relating to psychosomatic disease in the following points:

Rule 1:  Psychosomatic disease is a dysfunctional response to an excessive stimulus, manifested by a thought response, a feeling (emotion) response, and a body response.  A fixed body response occurs when the body response is self-perpetuating and no longer dependent on the originating stimulus for maintenance.

Rule 2:  Depression is one mode of response and results in an increase in other modes of response.

Rule 3:  It is the size or duration of the stimulus that determines the response, not the cause of the stimulus.

Rule 4:  The identified cause of the stimulus is often not the significant cause of the stimulus.

Rule 5:  The internal demands and resources largely determine or maintain the external demands and resources.

Rule 6:  There are three degrees of psychosomatic disease. There are many factors to consider in establishing a multidisciplinary treatment plan for cure or control by natural, chemical, or mechanical means.

(a).  In first-degree psychosomatic disease the client is able to connect the stimulus to the body response to a feeling response to a thought response.  A treatment contract for natural cure can safely be made if the client is invested in change.

(b).  In second-degree psychosomatic disease the client is unable to connect the stimulus to the body response or a feeling response and thought response.  A treatment contract for exploration only can be made.  With the client invested in exploration, a connection is usually made between eight and twenty group sessions, and a contract for cure can then be established.

(c).  In third-degree psychosomatic disease the disease process is no longer dependent on the stimulus for maintenance.  No treatment contract for cure can be made; treatment is aimed at control using natural, chemical, and mechanical methods.  Cure would be a bonus.

Rule 7:  Tissue damage requires tissue treatment.

Where does the tendency to somatize arise from?  Psychosomatic families have been identified which foster the emergence of symptomatic children.  They create difficulties in handling stress.  They tend to either internalize or act out anger, and are immature in their ability to cope with difficult situations.  When psychosomatic disorders are generally treated, one individual is viewed as the “container and carrier of the disease,” when in fact it arises within the family system, and each individual serves a role or function, such as “scapegoat,” or “the sickly one.”  In the psychosomatic family context, emotional arousal has metabolic consequences, (Minuchin, 1978).

In primary disorders, a physiological dysfunction is already present.  In the secondary psychosomatic disorders, no such predisposing physical dysfunction can be demonstrated.  The psychosomatic element is apparent in the transformation of emotional conflicts into somatic symptoms.  These symptoms may crystallize into a severe and debilitating illness or psychophysical disorder.

Certain transactional patterns are characteristic of psychosomatic families.  Families that encourage somatization share four family characteristics of enmeshment, rigidity, overprotectiveness, and lack of conflict resolution.  Boundaries in enmeshed families are poorly differentiated, weak, and easily crossed.  Children may act inappropriately toward parents or siblings.  Or a child may join or be enlisted by one parent against the other in decision making.

Individual members are regulated by the family system.  Individual autonomy is weak.  Rigid families are committed to maintaining the status quo.  The children in turn, particularly the psychosomatically ill child, feel great responsibility for protecting the family.  For the sick child, the experience of being able to protect the family by using the symptoms may be a major reinforcement for the illness.  Emotional arousal in the child triggers physiological responses.

Even when coming into therapy, these families typically represent themselves as normal and untroubled, except for one child’s medical problem.  They deny any need for change in the family.  Such families are highly vulnerable to external events, such as changes in occupation or loss of kin.  Almost any outside event may overload their dysfunctional coping mechanisms, precipitating illness.

The rigidity and overprotectiveness of the psychosomatic family system, combined with the constant mutual impingements characteristic of pathologically enmeshed transactional patterns, make such families’ thresholds for conflict very low.  Usually a strong religious or ethical code is used as a rationale for avoiding conflict.  As a result, the problems are left unresolved, to threaten again and again, continually activating the system’s avoidance circuits.

Each psychosomatic family’s idiosyncratic structure and functioning dictate its ways of avoiding conflict.  Often one spouse is an avoider.  When the nonavoider brings up areas of difficulty, the avoider manages to detour confrontation that would lead to the acknowledgement of conflict and, perhaps, negotiation.  Or one spouse simply leaves the house when the other tries to discuss a problem.  Normal families are able to disagree.

Viewed from a transactional point of view, the patient’s symptom acquires new significance as a regulator in the family system.  The symptom is often a key factor in the child’s involvement in parental conflict.  One pattern tends to dominate: triangulation, parent-child coalition, and detouring.  In the first two patterns, the spouse dyad is frankly split in opposition or in conflict, and the child is openly allied with one parent.  In detouring, the spouse dyad is ostensibly united.  The parents submerge their conflicts in a posture of protecting or blaming their sick child, who is defined as the only family problem.

In some families, the parents require the children to reassure them that they are good parents or to join them in worrying about the family.  Parents may vacillate between their concern for the sick child and their exasperation over the burdens imposed.  In most cases, parental concerns absorb the couple, so that all signs of marital strife or even minor differences are suppressed or ignored.  Maladaptive sequences are enacted again and again.

Family therapy embraces a systemic worldview.  The family is the primary unit and all members of the family are important contributors to its functioning.  Families consist of relationships, rules, and roles:

1.  Relationships.  Some practitioners consider the family to include not only family members, but also relatives and friends.  The systemic worldview is concerned with relationships both inside and outside the family.  Each unit is a subsystem of an even larger system.  For example, a person is a subsystem of a family, which is a subsystem of a network, which is a subsystem of a community, nation, and culture.

2.  Rules.  Families are viewed as systems, and intrafamilial patterns of communication are the focal point for understanding family functioning.  The family’s use of routinized and regulated communication assists each member to make meaning of life within the family.  By observing repeating patterns of communication, family therapists learn the unconscious and conscious rules under which a family operates.

3.  Roles.  The roles members are permitted to fulfill within a system are also communicated to each person.  The most vulnerable member of certain families is often given the role of the identified patient.  The roles of family mascot, peacemaker, and gatekeeper are just a few of the expected ways of behaving that individual members might perform in a family or network.

Early Emotional Milestones

Babies have many emotional milestones in their development ( Colarusso, 1981; Greenspan, 1985).  All of these experiences and issues can be vitally important in the therapeutic process.  Many of them may be revisited, relived in CRP journeys. They begin before birth and are perceptible while the fetus is still in the womb.  Factors impacting the perinatal and post-natal infant include:

1. Pregnancy: planned or unplanned; parental sex preference; normal or problem pregnancy--medication; intoxicants; bleeding, illness, weight gain; maternal psychological health -- mood, living situations, relationship to father; full term or premature.

2. Labor and delivery:  spontaneous or induced; length of labor; complications; vertex or breech presentation; natural or Caesarean birth; birth weight; involvement of the father.

3.  Bonding: toxic or non-toxic womb environment; parental support; breast or bottle fed; parental personality style; parental fears; supportive environment; reciprocal interaction; intensional communication; secure or insecure; over or under-excitable.

From birth to 3 months, the baby develops self-regulation and interest in the world.  Ideally the infant is able to calm down, sleeps regularly, brightens to sights and focuses, brightens to sounds especially voices, enjoys touch, and enjoys movement in space (up and down, side to side).  Age 2 to 7 months is the phase of “falling in love.”  When wooed the baby gazes back with great interest and a special, joyful smile.  Baby smiles to facial expressions and vocalizations and vocalizes back.

Between 3 - 10 months intentional communication develops.  Baby returns gestures with gestures, vocalizes with vocalizations, responds emotionally to emotional expressions, experiences joy and pleasure, and responds to encouragement to explore with curiosity.  Increasingly the baby initiates interactions, looks expectantly, woos with joy and pleasure, seeks comforting, and becomes more assertive in exploration.

The span of 9 - 18 months witnesses the emergence of an organized sense of self.  Emotional partnerships form and baby learns complex imitation; expresses needs and interests through taking initiative; asserts independence and originality; understands function and meaning; relates to other toddlers; learns to communicate with words, and begins to accept limits.  It’s about establishing closeness, emotional stability while separating and feeling close from afar, recovering from anger after a few minutes,  getting others to react, accepting limits while personality unfolds.

At 18 - 36 months, the young child learns how to express ideas, to create emotional ideas, to construct ideas to express emotions.  The child uses ideas when stressed, using all senses for the elaboration of ideas.

To summarize: The first year of life corresponds with Freud’s oral phase.  It includes such milestones as selection of name; maternal involvement, attitudes and feeding patterns; circumcision or bris; quality and quantity of mothering, fathering; sleep-wake patterns; sleeping arrangements; temperament; first sitting, walking, etc.; smile response, stranger anxiety; thumb sucking, use of pacifier; weaning; separation-individuation process -- autistic and symbiotic phases; parents’ relationship with each other and its effect on infant; illness and operation throughout childhood; major parental absences, illnesses, or death; moves.

Ages 1 - 3 correspond with Freud’s anal phase.  Issues include language development; motor development, fine and gross; separation-individuation, maternal availability; independence vs. clinging behavior, ability to tolerate brief separations, establishment of object constancy; establishment of core gender identity; toilet training -- when begun, when and how accomplished, by whom, family attitudes; enuresis, encopresis; aggressiveness, negativism; “terrible twos;” parental attitudes toward limits, controls, and punishments.

Between 30 - 48 months emotional thinking develops further.  It is the basis for fantasy, reality, and self-esteem.  Increasingly (but still only sometimes), the child know what is real and what isn’t, follows rules, ideally can remain calm and focused, feels optimistic and confident.  The child comes to realize how behavior, thoughts, and feelings can be related to consequences; realizes the relationship between feelings, behavior, and consequences in terms of being close to another person; realizes the relationship between feelings, behavior, and consequences in terms of assertiveness, curiosity, and exploration.

By three or four the child knows how to exert will power through verbal, emotional communication to get what he or she wants; realizes the relationship between feelings, behavior, and consequences in terms of anger (much of the time can respond to limits).  The child has learned to interact in socially appropriate ways with adults and peers.

There are some parental personality styles that are not naturally complementary to specific stages of development.  The same overall styles that might interfere with self-regulation and emerging interest in the world can also hamper a child ready to “fall in love.”  These include, but are not limited to, withdrawl or depression, being overly subdued, overstimulating the baby, fears (hurting the baby, personal inadequacy, loss of independence, being controlled, sexual feelings).  Also hampering the developing relationship are attitudes such as seeing baby as a plaything, or an extension of the parents, difficulty experiencing a wide range of emotions, fear of closeness, fear of rejection, and feelings of envy.

Withdrawl or depression is the most common cause of a parent being emotionally unavailable and treating the baby in a mechanical way.  When this happens, that baby is being undernourished as surely as if he or she were not getting enough to eat.  Fathers may also become depressed after their baby’s birth, (Greenspan, 1985).

Some parents, even though neither depressed nor withdrawn, are very subdued and do not exhibit much expression or emotion, and give their infant a rather monotonous idea of what the world is like.  Those who are either nervous and fearful or overstimulate their infant fail to recognize that baby also needs to be relaxed and calm to experience the world as both an interesting and peaceful place.

When a mother is depressed, she may find that all her energies go into providing physical care for her baby.  She feels she has no emotional energy left to smile, coo, and effectively woo her baby.  With an animated baby, the mother may not need to woo very intently; but an already withdrawn baby is hampered in further bonding.  After a while the baby may begin to reflect the mother’s look and tone -- somber and emotionless.

Babies can have their own form of depression when they reach out for love and are not met.  Infant depression can lead to a wide range of consequences and dysfunctions.  Early infant depression (0-3 months) leads to the attempt to close out external stimuli from experiences of either fear or grief.  Associated sensations can be described by terms such as “non-existence,” “waves of sadness, grief, fear, or anger which are all-consuming.”

If the father is absent or depressed and can’t be supportive, the mother may find the baby trying and overwhelming.  A depressed father can be just as critical as a depressed mother.  As baby develops and demonstrates a personality and special needs of her or his own, both mother and father may become frustrated and discouraged from fears of closeness or rejection, stemming from their own neuroses.

Researchers investigating the creation of false memories have concluded that childhood amnesia blocks virtually all memories before ages 2-3.  Loftus (1997) notes, “It is highly unlikely that an adult can recall genuine episodic memories from the first year of life, in part because the hippocampus, which plays a key role in the creation of memories, has not matured enough to form and store long-lasting memories that can be retrieved in adulthood.”

Elsewhere, Loftus (1993) writes:

“It is well known that humans experience a poverty of recollections of their first several years in life.  Freud (1905/1953) identified the phenomenon in some of his earliest writings: “What I have in mind is the peculiar amnesia which...hides the earliest beginnings of the childhood up to their sixth or eighth year.”  Contemporary cognitive psychologists place the offset of childhood amnesia at a somewhat earlier age: “past the age of ten, or thereabouts, most of us find it impossible to recall anything that happened before the age of four or five” (Morton, 1990).  Most empirical studies of childhood amnesia suggest that people’s earliest recollection does not date back before the age of about three or four (Kihlstrom and Harackiewicz, 1982; Howe and Courge, 1993); Pillemer and White, 1989).  Although one recent study suggests that some people might have a memory for a hospitalization or the birth of a sibling that occurred at age two (Usher and Neisser), these data do not completely rule out the possibility that the memories are not true memories but remembrances of things told by others.  Still, the literature on childhood amnesia ought to figure in some way into our thinking about recollections of child molestation that supposedly occurred in infancy.”

However, this research only precludes “episodic” memories of actual historical events in a narrative or dialogical form--coherent stories of early life.  It does not preclude sensorimotor memories stored in the very fabric of all the tissues of the body, and in fact influencing the very structure of the entire psychophysical self, (Swinney, 1997).  At the onset of treatment, therapists are well advised to review with clients an informed consent statement, which explicitly states that not all memories recovered in treatment are accurate.

Even the fetus has the capacity to learn and remember (Hopson, 1998). These activities can be rudimentary, automatic, even biochemical.  For example, a fetus, after an initial reaction of alarm, eventually stops responding to a repeated loud noise  The fetus can listen, learn, and remember at some level.  The same is true for the infant and toddler, even though the neural circuits of adult-type memory are still developing.

Early memories are encoded as sensorimotor impressions in the whole psychophysical being.  These memories influence basic issues such as being or not-being, self-image, loveability, and the safety and supportiveness of the world at large.  They come up in CRP journeys at the fundamental levels as vague, impressionistic images and feelings.  Reconnecting with this primal state allows the old patterns to dissolve into an undifferentiated state and that liberated energy flows deeper into the natural healing process.

The body and dreams preserve experiences and impressions of an indelible nature, and when they come up in the journey the accompanying feelings also arise (such as overwhelming waves of stress, pain, and fear).  These images are not the kind that let an individual know historically “what happened,” but enough information can be accessed and retrieved to facilitate the healing process.

By ages 3-6, the so-called amnesia of the early period is ending and a new phase (oedipal, according to Freud) brings up emergent issues.  The child now has conscious memories of dreams and nightmares.  The congealing of personal history, one’s narrative story about oneself, is rooted in these earliest conscious memories.  Earlier “memories” are often confabulated from what family members and others tell us, even as we are growing up, and thereafter.  Sexual curiosity and exploration emerges.  The child confronts separation from the parents and relating to others when school begins.  There is continued motor and perceptual development.


Psychiatrist Harry Stack Sullivan coined the phrase “participant-observer” to describe the function of the therapist.  Sullivan held that you have to participate in the situation of the other person before you can observe him correctly, and conversely, observation itself is a way of participating in the other.  This lead to Perl’s notion of encounter.  “Existential-phenomenology” ideally means to take the human being as he exists, a living, acting, feeling, thinking phenomenon, at this moment in an organic relationship to us.

Freud made the extraordinary discovery that when man could overcome his fears, face his pathology, and seek to comprehend it, he grew healthier.  Rollo May was among the first to state that when man willingly faces his being in the same manner, seeks to comprehend it, allows himself awareness of its terrors, its passions, its transiency -- then man becomes most truly human and self-actualized.

Evasion of one’s full humanness is, in fact, what initiates the possibility of neurotic development.  Jung implied this when he said that neurosis was a substitute for legitimate suffering.  An acceptance of the existence of this “tragic sense of life” in addition to its joys, was May’s innovation.  He described his work as humanistic psychotherapy, the aim of which was helping the other experience his existence as real, or authentic.  He recognized that in treatment the person can choose to change and become different, but one does not become fully human painlessly.  In the process, despite and because of phases of discouragement and pain, one finds meaning and the satisfaction of existence.

May argued that anxiety is not necessarily negative and that growth and creativity require us to go beyond set boundaries, enduring the distress of being without secure, reliable structures.  What differentiates the neurotic from self-actualizing reactions to such threats to being as death, anxiety, and guilt is whether the person represses and cuts himself off from the threatening stimuli or whether he wills to consciously face and assimilate it.

In the existential-humanistic worldview, we are in the world and acting on that world while it simultaneously acts on us.  Any attempt to separate ourselves from the world alienates us and establishes a false and arbitrary distinction.  Alienation results either from separateness from others and the world or from our inability to choose and act in relationship.  Alienation can be experienced in one or more areas: the person and their physical body, other people in the world, or the biological and physical world.  Alienation is from self, others, or world.

The existential counselor attends primarily to the self of the client, and not to analyses and explanations of other entities, or of the client’s unconsciousness or “less-than-fully-human” aspects.  The central task of therapy and counseling, then, is to enable the alienated client to see him or herself in relationship to the world and to choose and act in accordance with what he or she sees.

Having examined the world, the person is assumed free to act, rather than only to be acted upon.  But action can create existential anxiety.  Choices and decisions are often difficult.  Although choice may be painful, it is likely to be less so than the anxiety created by not choosing.

The existential-humanistic point of view is an egalitarian attitude toward counseling (encounter) and the meaning of life.  The main points of this mode of counseling can be summarized as follows:

1.  We are in the world; our task is to understand what this means.  It is clear that the meanings we generate vary from culture to culture.

2.  We know ourselves through our relationship with the world, and in particular through our relationships with other people.

3.  Anxiety can result from lack of relationship (with ourselves, with others, or with the world at large) or from a failure to act and choose.

4.  We are responsible for our own construction of the world. Even though we know the world only as it interacts on us, it is we who decide what the world means and who must provide organization for that world.

5.  The task of the existential-humanistic therapist or counselor is to understand the client’s world as fully as possible and ultimately to encourage her or him to be responsible for making decisions.  However, existential counselors will also share themselves and their worldviews with clients as appropriate.

6.  A special problem is that the world is not necessarily meaningful.  Existentialists such as Sartre and Kierkegaard see the absurdity and cruelty of life, while humanistic existentialists such as Buber and May suggest that the very confusion and disorder in the world are an opportunity for growth and beauty.

7.  The distinction between existential and existential-humanistic positions can be defined as one of philosophy or faith.  If a person sees the many possibilities in the world as a problem, he or she has a problem.  If a person sees the array of possibilities as infinite opportunity, she or he will choose to act. (Ivey, 1980).

As prospective or active counselors and therapists, we must listen to the client and open the interview and ourselves to scrutiny.  Only in this way can we grow and learn about our own possibilities to enrich the lives of others.  It begins in empathic and accurate listening, with warmth, respect, and authenticity.  It means treating the person differently than they were treated in a dysfunctional setting; relating to them in non-toxic manner.


Gestalt implies a unified whole, properties which cannot be derived by summation from the parts.  Gestalt psychology started in Germany, but moved to the U.S. after the rise of Nazism (Wertheimer, Kohler, Koffka).  The idea that the whole is different from the sum of its parts challenged the then prevailing theory of Structuralism.  The early Gestalists contribued more to the study of perception than to other areas of psychology, always looking for pattern, shape, process, or configuration, (Rock, Palmer, 1990).  What people perceived, they held, is not merely a sum of sequence of sensations but the whole configuration of which they are part.  Emergent quality illustrates one meaning of the Gestalt concept of organization.  This became the basis of holism.

Frederick (Fritz) Perls devised Gestalt theory to fill the theoretical gaps of psychoanalysis.  He came to be regarded as a “guru” of existentialism in the 1960s.  He deeply believed that individuals who became aware of themselves and their experience in the immediacy of the here and now could become more authentic and purposeful human beings. His techniques help people become aware of who they are and what they really want.

Perls was an analysand of Wilhelm Reich, so he was strongly influenced by Reich’s view of character analysis and body armoring, which led to his emerging ‘holistic’ convictions.  Perls’ theory and methods carry on the influence of Freudian psychoanalysis, Reichian character-analysis, existential philosophy, Gestalt psychology, and Eastern religion.

The philosophical approach of Gestalt therapy is rooted in the fact that whatever exists is here and now.  The past exists now only as memory, nostalgia, regret, resentment, fantasy, legend or history.  The future exists here and now as anticipation, planning, rehearsal, expectation, and hope or dread and despair.  Gestalt therapy takes its bearing from what is here and now, not from what has been or should be.  Therefore it is experiential.

Perls saw human nature as holistic, consisting of many varied parts that make a unique individual.  We start life more or less “together,” but as we grow and develop, we encounter experiences, feelings, and fears in life that cause us to lose parts of ourselves.  These “splits” from the whole, or the gestalt, must be reintegrated if we are to live intentional, self-actualized lives.  Thus, Gestalt therapy is centrally concerned with integrating or reintegrating our split-off parts into a whole person.

The Gestalt worldview is that people can be responsible for their actions in the world and, further, that the world is so complex that very little can be understood at any given moment.  Thus, Gestalt therapy tends to focus extensively on the present-tense, immediate here-and-now experience of the client.  There is thus a corresponding decrease in emphasis on past or future.  These two key constructs are reflections of the basic existential view.  It is centrally concerned with the totality of the individual’s being-in-the-world.

The tasks of the Gestalt therapist include the following:

1.  To assist the client in making accurate, undistorted contact with their feelings and to learn how to be appropriately and rewardingly expressive of these feelings (i.e. anger, fear, joy, sexuality, etc.)

2.  To assist them in making accurate, undistorted contact with their needs, wishes, and desires and to aid them in mobilizing themselves to gratify these in a manner that leads to satisfaction and is not destructive to themselves or others.

3.  To assist them in making accurate, undistorted contact with their external environment (persons and situations) so that their behavior leads to personal fulfillment and remains within appropriate boundaries of reality.  The moment to moment activity of the therapist is devoted to helping them becoming aware of how, in this now-moment of being, they block, interfere with, or avoid the process which would lead to accurate contact with the inner and outer environment, which leads to a fuller actualization of the self.

When this process of Gestalt formation and destruction proceeds consistently, smoothly, and without avoidance or interruption, the person is able to live with relative contentment and without chronic tensions that may be experienced psychically or physically.  Thus, the aim is to return them to organismic self-regulation rather than living out their lives in compliance to external regulations which have, over time, become internalized.

Gestalt moves toward outcomes which can be labeled enhanced human potential, self-actualization, wholesomeness, creativity, competency, and self-support.  Gestalt therapists generally do not conceive of a final “cure,” but emphasize development of a skill, the skill of awareness and expressiveness which are essential for coping adequately with life problems that continue to arise throughout a lifetime.

Existential counselors value authenticity.  It is a valued counseling process and counseling goal and outcome.  Although existential philosophy existed prior to existential counseling, counselors do not practice according to existential philosophy: they instead have arrived at the existential philosophy via their practices.  They “know” based on their counseling experiences, by designating what can be known through experience.  All practitioners have an underlying philosophy or point-of-view, but unfortunately it is typically hidden.

In Gestalt dreamwork, each part of the dream is believed to represent a part of the dreamer.  The task of the Gestalt therapist is to find how the parts relate together as a unity.  Authentic relationships develop quickly and strongly.

Some critics think Perls gave insufficient attention to the role of trauma in therapy and that he uncritically accepted a Maslow type of need hierarchy.  The emphasis on self-actualization misses the importance of self-in-relation.  The word gestalt implies that the individual is a whole in a context of family and community.  Yet Perls devised many techniques for enhancing awareness of interpersonal experiencing.  He contributed more to methodology than theory.  He also pioneered many aspects of group therapy (see Appendix: Group Therapy, this paper).

The following techniques can be used in a working relationship with a full sense of ethics.  They can be easily integrated into interviews, regardless of any particular theoretical orientation.  It is a direct sensorimotor approach.  Gestalt techniques can be used alone as counseling tools, or meshed with CRP in the journeys.

1. Here-and-now experiencing.  Most techniques of Gestalt therapy are centered on helping the client experience the world now rather than in the past or future.  What is done is done, and what will be will be.  Although past experiences, dreams, or future thoughts may be discussed, the constant emphasis is on relating them to immediate present-tense experience.  The CRP journeys are immediate and experiential; they draw from threads of the past and reach prospectively into the future, but emphasize what is going on now.

2. Directives.  Gestalt therapists constantly tell their clients what to do in the interview, although decisions for their own later action are the clients’ own.  Feedback questions relating to feelings and interpretations give additional strength to directives to bring the past into the present.  During experiential journeys, the mentor who knows the psychic “territory,” directs the process toward deepening and toward its natural resolution and closure.

3. Language changes.  Gestalt clients are encouraged to change questions to statements in the belief that most questions are simply hidden statements about oneself.  Vague statements are turned into “I” statements, thus increasing the personal identification and concreteness in the interview.  The client is frequently directed to talk in the present tense, adding power and focus to the problem.  Talking about problems is considered less effective than experiencing them directly.  In CRP journeys, the mentored is encouraged to identify or “become” elements of a dream, symptom, or feeling and describe what that experience is like from the inside out.

4. The empty chair technique.  When a client expresses a conflict with another person, they are directed to imagine that the other person is sitting in an empty chair and then to talk to that person.  The roles switch and the counselor constantly suggests chair changes at critical points.  Experiencing and understanding feelings more fully, the person can learn they were projecting many thoughts onto the other person.

5.  Talking to parts of oneself.  Variation of empty chair with one’s conflicting parts.  By discussing the conflicted issues reflected by the split, the person often spontaneously generates a new solution or answer.  Different body parts can “speak” with one another, for example a tense right hand can talk to a loose left hand.  Quick and important breakthroughs can often occur.  In CRP, the mentored can identify and experience many aspects of self, not only in personified and dialogical form, but in more abstract sensorimotor images from their deep past which have conditioned their existential self-image.

6.  Top dog and underdog.  Top dog is authoritarian and demanding, full of “shoulds” and “oughts.”  Underdog is more passive, apologetic, and guilt ridden.  When these two dimensions are observed, the empty chair technique or a dialogue often helps the client to understand and experience them more fully.

7.  Staying with the feeling.  When a key emotion or nonverbal movement is noted the therapist often immediately gives attention to the feeling and its meaning.  The feeling can be amplified or intensified, especially if it is uncomfortable, to help bring up memories associated with that discomfort, pain or fear.  This technique is used in CRP to help the person confront and move into and through fears and pain.  The mentor reassures the mentored that this is familiar territory and all will be well if they simply let go and trust the process.  This frequently leads to a death/rebirth sequence.

8.  Dreamwork.  Gestalt does not use dreams to understand past conflicts, but rather as metaphors to understand present-day, here-and-now living.  The parts of a dream are considered as aspects of the client.  Any piece (person, object, scene, or thing) of a dream is a projection of the client’s experiential work.  Through acting out the dream, the client can integrate the split pieces into a whole person.  CRP uses the concept that all parts of the dream represent the dreamer, and uses dream images or scenes to begin or redirect consciousness journeys.


Eric Berne (1910-1970) was deeply influenced by the works of Freud, and impressed by the ideas of Paul Federn on ego states, which Berne described as Parent, Adult, and Child.  The Parent is the ego state derived from the person’s parental figures, and in all the individual acts just as one of his parents did when he was small.  The Adult is the objective ego state dealing with the reality of the world.  The Child is just that--the ego state of the remainder of the individual responding in its own childlike fashion.  It is especially important for the therapist to help the client differentiate between the Child and the Adult in his actions.

Before going into transactional analysis proper, the client participates in structural analysis to differentiate the ego states and aid in his reality testing of them.  The basis of structural analysis is that ego states can be classified and clarified, and by understanding them, a person can understand his or her own behavior and improve it.  The person learns to observe these three individual ego states within himself, how they interact, and learns to recognize them in the behavior of others.

“Regression analysis” highlights the Child, and is the basis of all subsequent Inner Child therapies and self-reparenting.  The person reexperiences phenomenologically the feelings of the Child.  At this time it is not the individual’s Adult talking about the Child, but instead the Child itself talking and experiencing.  Both the therapist and client learn about issues that affect the Child ego state as well as the person’s Adult and Parent.

The TA therapist believes strongly in the Adult of all clients, and informs them of their progress and where they are going.  While structural analysis is done in the individual setting, transactional analysis usually takes place in the group context, mixed with individual sessions.

Game analysis and script analysis are added to the process.  Games appear to be like other interactions on the surface but have ulterior transactions within them and involve payoffs often not evident to those involved.  Games prevent intimate and honest relationships, (Morse, 1977).

Scripts are more than the repetition of games.  They are the overall way one plays out one’s life -- life-themes.  They are usually laid down in early childhood and are greatly influenced by our culture, family, and especially our parents, according to Berne.  The problem with scripts, as with games, is that they are limiting, even self-defeating.  Script analysis and understanding opens the door for changing the script.

Insight is not enough.  After clients are made aware of their selves, seeing as clearly as possible their transaction, games, and scripts, the therapist and client often set up a bilateral contract focusing on the changes the patient wishes to make, outlining possible changes and methods of change.  Once again, it is up to the client and not the therapist to decide what is to be changed.  Personal and group work brings both intellectual and emotional insights.  The eventual goal is to be able to use both emotions and intellect fully in dealing with the specific issues and everday problems.  In addition to this, TA also honors the spiritual dimension and values of the individual.


Fractal art, the result of graphically displaying the mathematical descriptors of Chaos Theory, shows us the hidden infinity of forms and structures which unfurl from the infinity of possibilities that mirror and duplicate the shapes unfolding in nature within and around us.

When we focus in on a small segment and journey deep within it, or expand it, we eventually encounter the mirror image of the segment first entered.  This reiteration of fractal patterns, their self-similarity, is mirrored in consciousness journeys where we find the fundamental structure of our self-image, healthy or dis-eased, repeated at every level of our being.  Shapes and patterns emerge from the mysterious infinity of chaos.  These forms reach deep inside, resonate with our spirit and foster a sense of connection.

In Chaos Theory, forms emerge, dissolve, and reform through the creative process known as autopoetic self-organization.  It demonstrates the unfolding of creative process itself, the emergence of form or structure from formlessness and chaos.  Strange attractors, principles or forces that interact with complexity, are hybrids with roots in both chaos and structure which influence and shape the emergent structures.

Chaos is ubiquitous in nature, hidden in the most ordered and solid-seeming places.  It is found in the following dynamic processes, and more:

* In the structure of the atom and its particles/waves;

* in the rhythms of a beating heart and the flow of blood through it;

* in the neural firing patterns of our brain;

* in the infinite complexity of wilderness and natural phenomena;

* in the churning complexity of a turbulent white water river;

* in the motion of the planets in their path about the sun;

* in the scattering complexity of the stars and galaxies, and the moment of the big bang from which the universe emerged.

Wherever we look, chaos or non-linear dynamics and complexity is either right in sight or hidden just below the surface.  Its domain lies at the edges of knowledge where our perceptions of structure and order end.  Yet chaos reveals in its own depths, hidden degrees of order and structure that resonate with the soul and reveal to us the basic forms and structures repeated throughout nature and throughout our nature.

Chaos Theory implies a universe of evolution and constant re-creation.  Structure arises in the moment and is in resonance with its environment.  But in a universe of constant evolution each form eventually becomes dissonant as the evolving environment surrounding it changes.  The same holds true for the fundamental patterning and structure of our existential self-image.  This is the root of the disease process and is reflected in the imagery and psychobiology of our entire systems.

Chaos Theory restores the balance to the entropic forces which lead to the decay and death of outworn systems.  It is the means of creative self-organization which arises from the undifferentiated disorder that lurks within the processes of creation.  Chaos holds infinite possibilities of new form, and these forms are eventually revealed and emerge from chaos as new structure.  This is also an apt way to describe consciousness dynamics such as thought, spontaneous behavior and creativity.  Reality is neither structure nor chaos but a process in which structure and chaos dance between form and formlessness.  This is the eternal cycle of death and renewal, the dance of Shiva.

The CRP models of disease and wellness illustrate these principles at work in human experience.  For example, psychologists and medical doctors have long debated why the same experience can result in pathology in one individual yet strengthen another and with a third pass unnoticed.  Chaos Theory has a dynamic called the butterfly effect where minor perturbations in initial conditions can be pumped up into major changes in the development of the system; in our example, in the personality.  On the other hand, in some instances these perturbations are damped out leaving little visible effect.

Due to mechanisms such as the butterfly effect, a minor trauma at an early age in one individual, due to other small differences in the complexity of his being and experience, may heavily affect him resulting in a severe neurosis.  Another individual might experience a relatively severe trauma at an early age that has little or no effect on his development, or may even lead to stronger positive drives.  In such complex systems, there is no clear linear cause-effect chain.  The systems interconnecting with other systems are far too complex.

We have noted from CRP explorations that the basis of every symptom of disease, including psychological ones, represents an attempt to resolve or heal an issue.  When there is an intrusion (psychobiological trauma), centers of dynamic activity are set in motion within the whole system which attract more and more energy toward themselves like mini black holes.

Such systems are known in Chaos Theory as “strange attractors.”  In psychological terms, such attractors form the core of syndromes or disorders.  Frequently the childhood structures which are purposeful at the time become maladaptive and no longer serve us and in fact threaten our continued well-being. In chaotic systems, time is “stretched and folded” so that events ostensibly separated in time and space are intimately linked in a non-linear way.

In a universe of constant evolution each form eventually becomes dissonant as the evolving environment surrounding it changes.  The changed surroundings stress the form and begin a process of its dissolution back into chaos.  Periodic chaos serves to, and is an opportunity for, restructuring our lives.  It purges the old dissonant structures that impede the flow of our consciousness and creativity.

More fundamental than these disorders is the Primal Existential Sensory Self-Image (PESSI), which itself can become maladapted or diseased.  As the template for the whole organism, it sets up patterns which reverberate throughout the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual life of the individual.

Through the CRP journey process, this pattern may be deconstructed to the undifferentiated state beyond form and energy, and healing takes place when it spontaneously and creatively reforms as a new image of wholeness and well-being.  A structure arises out of the chaos in resonance with the existing environment, and is sustained by complex feedback loops, (Swinney, 1997).  Through this process we revision our Reality from the inside out.

This is nature’s own creative process.  Healing is the biological equivalent of creativity.  Healing echoes creation and evolution.  High roads to the unconscious, connections to God and the soul, dreams arise from our creativity.  Each dream image is an expression of our creative energy, shaped by its journey through our psyche.  But no matter what its shape, the root of each symbol and the heart of each dream is pure creative energy.

The symbol is nothing more than a doorway opening into a chain of consciousness states that lead us to this creator--creative self-organizing energy that can heal us.  Therefore, the Consciousness Restructuring Process is not an interpretive or analytical way of understanding a dream, but is an inner consciousness journey into its healing heart.

If we look at the “edge of chaos” which self-organizing systems naturally evolve toward, we find four basic principles, as outlined by Stuart Kaufmann (SciAmer, Jan. 1993):

1).  A system goes through a phase transition from order to randomness if the strength of the interaction between interconnected agents is gradually increased.  Intensification.  Dis-ease.

2).  A system can perform the most sophisticated computations at the boundary between order and randomness.  Adaptive agents can develop good solutions to extraordinarily difficult problems.  Transition. Dissolution.

3).  Complex adaptive systems tend to evolve toward the boundary between order and chaos.  Liminality.  Solutions.

4).  Organisms change how strongly they interact with others in such a way that they reach the boundary between order and randomness, thereby maximizing the average fitness of the organisms.  Dynamic adaptation.  Stabilization.

There are certain fundamental characteristics of chaotic systems and each has its analogy and application in the CRP journeys:

Sensitivity to initial conditions.  The main feature of self-generated complexity is the presence of an iterative mechanism which transforms the information contained in the initial conditions in a deterministic way.  In this sense, it is possible to view complexity as elaborated simplicity.  Sensitive dependence on initial conditions means similar causes do not produce similar effects.  Disease is a crisis that is presented to an organism that creates the opportunity to dissolve the old structure and evolve into a new one, better adapted to survival.  We are not limited to any specific technique or practice for healing, but use a deeper understanding of the nature of the healing process itself to create whatever technique is needed for the client at whatever level we are working.

Butterfly effect.  A variance so small it is almost insignificant in the beginning can create vast differences as the system evolves, making it impossible to track or predict.  In CRP, just as one traumatic incident may pattern a lifelong disorder, one healing therapeutic event may completely and permanently restructure the whole system from the most fundamental level.  After a bifurcation there can be no return to the old situation.

Fractal therapy.  A fractal is an object that reveals more and more detail as it is increasingly magnified, like seeing the universe in a grain of sand.  Self-similarity repeats its conformations from the most fundamental to the most complex level. In CRP, the disease image appears in a myriad of self-similar forms revealed through the levels of the consciousness journey.  One traumatic event can shape a life; one intense therapeutic event can reshape it.

Strange Attractors. Investigation of the mechanism of turbulence led to the invention of the term strange attractor. The turbulence that is described by strange attractors is “turbulence in time” -- deterministic chaos, or temporal chaos.  Graphic depictions of attractors allow us to map a dynamical system’s behavior in discreet-time or phase-space.  Roughly speaking, an attractor is what the behavior of a system settles down to, or is attracted to.  A system may have several attractors.  Strange attractors are the core of unpredictable variation with limits.  For humans this means any perturbation from conception onward can be a determining factor in structure and personality.  Personality traits can be construed as strange attractors of behavior.  Natural chaos allows adaptation and self-organization for evolutionary change.

Bifurcation.  Amplifying a situation, intensifying it, leads to de-stabilization.  This leads to a phase transition; phase instabilities or turbulence in a system lead to the possibility of bifurcations.  Near bifurcation, systems present large fluctuations.  Such systems “hesitate” among various possible directions of evolution.  Even little fluctuations in subsystems combine through positive feedback loops, becoming strong enough to shatter any pre-existing organization.  In chaos theory, this crucial moment is known as bifurcation.  At this point, the disorganized system either disintegrates into chaos, or leaps to a new higher level of order or organization.  Through this means, order arises spontaneously from disorder through self-organization.  Healing is an ever-present potential.

The Edge of Chaos.  When a system is far-from-equilibrium, the slightest flux can be amplified into structure-annihilating waves.  Chaos Theory helps us think in terms of these fluctuations, feedback amplification, dissipative structures, and bifurcations.  Chance plays its role at or near the point of bifurcation, after which deterministic processes take over once more until the next bifurcation.  Thus, nonequilibrium, the flux of matter and energy, is a source of order.  The highest mean fitness is at the phase transition between order and chaos.  Complex adaptive systems adapt to and on the edge of chaos.  In CRP all the action lies in going just beyond the boundary from the known and comfortable into the fear, pain, and challenge.

Chaotic Consciousness. There is a fundamental field of unstructured consciousness prior to energy or form, the bornless field.  A return in the journey to this state evokes spontaneous healing and creative self-reorganization.  At the quantum level, strange attractors influence the emergence of consciousness and its interactions with other fields to create the essence of self and external reality.  In Bohm’s model, consciousness can be either enfolded as potential structure or a field, or it can be manifested or unfolded as structure in the space-time universe.  In enfolded or potential form, it is outside of space-time reality.

Autopoietic self-organization; creativity and self-actualization.  Human EEG shows significant fractal structure, suggesting the brain inherently resides in a state of self-organized criticality, where a small stimulation can set it into fluctuation where the response distribution is fractal.   In CRP therapy, small changes in this process result in whole person changes in a healthier direction.  This process is creative; healing is biological creativity. Freud made the discovery that when man could overcome his fears, face his pathology, and seek to comprehend it, he grew healthier.  Rollo May was among the first to carry this insight further: when we willingly choose to face our being in the same manner, seeking to comprehend it, allowing awareness of its terrors, passions and transiency, we become most truly human and self-actualized.

Emergence.  Central to any understanding of consciousness and the brain, emergence is a process by which order appears “spontaneously” within a system.  When many elements are allowed to mingle, they form patterns among themselves as they interact.  When the mind lets go of its rational order and enters into unstructured chaos it emerges later with a new structure.

Placebo Effect.  Medicine is just beginning to use the mind-body connection for healing.  By giving a dummy drug at least 30% of patients experience the same pain relief as with true painkiller.  The same pain-killing “pill” can stop gastric secretion in ulcer patients, lower blood pressure or fight tumors, for instance.  But this effect requires no “pill” to initiate spontaneous healing; the pill itself is meaningless.  The body has the ability to produce any biochemical response once the mind has been given the appropriate suggestion, which is converted into the body’s intention to cure itself.  We can bypass the deception of the sugar pill and directly to the intention, (Chopra, 1989,1993; Weil).

Dreams/REM.  Dreams are complex dynamic systems; they embody the very nature of chaos. They are uncensored messages from the twilight zone of chaos-order and communicating with us at the most basic sensory levels imaginable.  Dreaming reflects a pivotal aspect of the processing of memory, and helps us form strategies for survival and adaptation.  They are complex, incorporating self-image, fears, insecurities, strengths, grandiose ideas, sexual orientation, desire, jealousy, and love.  Their unusual character is a result of the complex associations that are culled from memory.  When the mentored recalls a dream thread, it facilitates reentering REM for the rest of the journey.


We have concluded that training is a preferred mode of treatment.  Training is a systematic means for increasing the quantity and quality of responses in a skill area.  In training, the mentor uses his or her other skills to develop the experiential base for learning--in a helpful way.  The mentor presents him or herself as the model who exhibits the skills the mentored is to emulate and perhaps enhance.

A person has a response to his situation and adopts a posture and style designed to cope with the situation as he sees it from his point of view.  Some of these situations are “intolerable” and person’s “invent” a “way out” in order to survive or “live through” at all.  How the person sees his situation and how he invents a way to survive informs both notions of health and pathology.

The treatment approach of Chaosophy has deep roots in traditional and contemporary psychodynamics.  It encompasses, but is not limited to Freudian, Jungian, Existential-Humanistic, Gestalt, transactional analysis, family systems therapy, transpersonal psychology and Chaos Theory.

In practice, it is equally rooted in the spiritual traditions and shamanism, exemplified in the Journey process, centrality of dreams or altered states, co-consciousness, and the initiatory aspects of CRP therapy, (Swinney and Miller, 1992; Swinney, 1997).  CRP depends on the mentor being willing to allow himself to reach out toward, and to be intimately at one with the mentored.

More than the sum of their parts, we have woven together the many threads into one fabric, including the importance of libido and dreams from Freud; the power of the deep consciousness journey, the transpersonal, and individuation of Jung; the developmental theories of family systems; the empowering existential-humanistic philosophy; and the potent empathic and rapport techniques of encounter from Gestalt therapy and intimacy of transactional analysis; with the spiritual perspectives of transpersonal psychology.  In Chaos Theory we found a contemporary model for the turbulent processes of human life and the natural healing process.

This paper is not intended to be exhaustive, but only to provide the roughest skeleton and clues for further study.  It only addresses the rudiments of the psychotherapeutic background of CRP, not the scientific models nor the shamanic models which are the other legs of the tripod upon which CRP rests its philosophy.

Your Own Construction of the Counseling and Psychotherapy Process
1.  What is your overall worldview, and how does it relate to the Consciousness Restructuring Process?  Have you carefully elaborated your worldview and its implications for your practice?
2.  What are the central dimensions of your definition of ethical practice?
3.  As you think about each of the empathic concepts (rapport, co-consciousness, empathy), what is your personal construction of their meaning.  What sense do you make of them?
4.  With which microskills and concepts do you feel particularly comfortable?  Which have you already mastered, and which need further work so they can actually be used in a session?
5.  How do you make sense of the focusing concept?  How might you choose to focus your interventions, choosing CCRP or more traditional therapies?  Can you focus on individuals, family context, and the multicultural surround?
6.  What is to be your position on research and keeping up with new ideas?
7. What theories of counseling and therapy appeal to you?  What type of integration of these diverse theories are you moving toward.  From what approach do you personally plan to practice, and what type of continuing education do you see for yourself in the future?
8.  How many of these practical counseling and clinical exercises have you completed and with what level of mastery?  Have you practiced varying styles, established a ‘clinical portfolio’ on which you can build for the future?  Taking theory into practice is where one finds if it “works”, where one truly integrates theory and skills and makes them part of one’s being.
9.  Have you examined how your personal developmental history in family and culture affects your answers to the above questions?
10.    How do you continue to reflect on yourself and how your personal history and present life issues affect your performance as a counselor or therapist?  Do you continue to participate in your own therapeutic processes; what is your developmental goal; how are your concepts of well-being, disease, pathology, healing, and “cure” evolving?


Group counseling can be an adjunct to CRP, allowing individuals to interact in a therapeutic setting with others to further discovery and practice life skills.  Dyer and Vriend (1977) outline twenty assumptions underlying effective group counseling as follows:
1.  Each individual is more important than the collective.
2.  The leader is not a member of the group.
3.  Group counseling is for everyone.
4.  A counseling group has no group goals.
5.  Counseling individuals in groups is not only permitted: it is necessary.
6.  Group interaction is not a goal unto itself.
7.  The counselor does not seek to heighten natural pressures inherent in a group.
8.  A counseling group is not a confessional.
9.  Gripe sessions, focusing on outsiders, having conversations, and focusing on topics constitute inappropriate group counseling content.
10.  What goes on in a counseling group is privileged communication.
11.  Group members speak for themselves in a counseling group.
12.  Feelings are not emphasized over thoughts in counseling groups.
13.  Group cohesiveness is not a group counseling goal.
14.  Session-to-session follow-up is an integral part of group counseling.
15.  In every group counseling session, one or more members received specific counseling help.
16.  In group counseling there is no positive correlation between member comfort and effectiveness.
17.  Negative emotions are neither bad nor avoided in group counseling.
18.  There is no agenda in group counseling.
19.  All behavior in counseling groups is neutral; it is neither “good” nor “bad.”
20.  Effectiveness in group counseling is measured by what goes on outside the group.


1.  The only consistency for the whole person is internal.
2.  Creativity and honesty are a way of life for the whole person.
3.  Although the way the whole person lives his or her life is seen by others to be too dangerous, too intense, and too profound, he or she is in tune with the fact that his or her real risk involves living life without risk.
4.  The whole person realizes that life is empty without acting.
5.  The whole person realizes that whatever he or she does is worth doing fully and well.
6.  The whole and creative person functions at a high energy level.
7.  The whole person comes to the realization that few men or women are large enough or whole enough to nourish and love the creative person.
8.  The whole person is fully aware that any significant human relationship is in the process of deepening or deteriorating.
9.  The whole person realizes that most men and women say “yes” out of fear of the implications of saying “no,” and that most say “no” out of fear of the implications of saying “yes.”
10.  The whole person is fully aware that in order to live life in such a way that it is a continuous learning and relearning process, he or she must periodically burn bridges behind him or her.
11.  The whole person realizes that he or she is, and must be, his or her own pathfinder, and travel a road never traveled before.
12.  The whole person does not fear living intensely.
13.  The whole person is prepared to face the implications of functioning a step ahead or above most of those with whom he or she comes into contact.
14.  The whole person is aware that for most people life is a cheap game.
15.  The whole person is fully aware that many of society’s rewards are designed to render the creative impotent.
16.  The whole person realizes that to emerge within the acceptable levels tolerated by society means institutionalization.
17.  The whole person realizes that he must escape traps in order to render him or her impotent.
18.  The whole person is aware of the awesome responsibility that comes with freedom.
19.  The whole person understands fully that unconscious motives are the inventions of the weak and cowardly.
20.  The whole person knows that he or she can develop his or her own direction if he or she is willing to pay any price to grow.
21.  The whole person understands that most are conditioned to confuse process or promises with outcome.
22.  The whole person knows that cruelty is the result of being convinced that you cannot deliver anything of value to yourself or to others.
23.  The whole person understands that incompetence is a diversionary tactic to cover for childish impulses.
24.  The whole person knows he or she must nourish what is growing or it will not grow.  He or she also knows that if he or she does not destroy when necessary, he or she will not grow.
25.  The whole person knows that if he or she falters or does not act upon his discrimination, the weak grow strong.
26.  The whole person understands that the complete person can respond as fully as one of the other gender and they can initiate equally.
27.  The whole person knows that we know all there is to know about psychopathy when we realize it is the preoccupation with irrelevancies.
28.  The whole person knows that honest work makes the irresponsible painfully anxious.
29.  The whole person knows that the work he does that yields a product helps him grow.
30.  The whole person values truth above all else.
31.  The whole person understands the implications that crisis often serves to assist efforts to avoid truth.
32.  The whole person knows that the first and last crisis for everyone is whether or not to work with the truth. (Carkhuff and Berenson, 1977).

Carkhuff, Robert and Berenson, Bernard (1977); Beyond Counseling and Therapy; New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
Cartmel, Gerald (1986); “A Systematic Approach to Psychosomatic Disease” Transactional Analysis Journal, Vol. 16, No. 4, October 1986, pp. 212-223.
Colarusso, Calvin and Nemiroff, Robert (1981); Adult Development: A New Dimension in Psychodynamic Theory and Practice; New York: Plenum Press.
Dyer, Wayne and Vriend, John (1977); Counseling Techniques that Work; New York: Funk & Wagnalls.
Greenspan, Stanley (1985); First Feelings: Milestones in the Emotional Development of Your Baby and Child; New York: Viking Penguin Inc.
Hopson, Janet (1998); “What the Fetus Knows”; Psychology Today, Sept/Oct 1998.
Ivey, Allen E., Ivey, Mary Bradford, Simek-Morgan, Lynn (1980/93); Counseling and Psychotherapy: A Multicultural Perspective, Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Kohut, Heinz (1977); The Restoration of the Self; Madison, Connecticut: International Universities Press.
Loftus, Elizabeth (1993); “The Reality of Repressed Memories,” American Psychologist, May 1993, pp. 518-537.
                               (1997); “Creating False Memories”; SciAmer, Sept. 1997, pp 70-75.
Miller, Alice (1980/83); For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence; New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux.
Minuchin, Salvador, Rosman, Bernice, Baker, Lester (1978); Psychosomatic Families; Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
Morse, Stephen and Watson, Robert (1977); Psychotherapies: A Comparative Casebook; New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
Rock, Irvin and Palmer, Stephen (1990); “The Legacy of Gestalt Psychology” SciAmer Dec. 1990, pp. 84-90.
Valle, Ronald and King, Mark (1978); Existential-Phenomenological Alternatives for Psychology; New York: Oxford University Press.
Wilber, Ken (2000); Integral Psychology: Consciousness, Spirit, Psychology, Therapy; Boston and London: Shambhala.

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