Every day, in offices around the world, psychotherapists and clients exchange tens of thousands of words in the often-frustrating attempt to make the therapeutic conversation come alive. But in the midst of all the verbal meanderings, what's often missing is the sense of being fully engaged and focused. Therapy can too easily become reduced to two talking heads spinning out tales, ignoring the intense sense of life that can emerge when we tap into our immediate, body-centered experience.
While most communication takes place outside of the verbal sphere, many therapists have little knowledge of how to bring nonverbal, present-moment experience into their work. Yet with a few basic principles and methods, many of them drawn from Hakomi Experiential Psychotherapy and the work of Ronald Kurtz, therapists can help clients orient themselves in a different way, enhancing both the intensity and the effectiveness of psychotherapy.
The vast undercurrent of our experience is only partly and imperfectly reflected in our verbal expression. In fact, we communicate our inner states and our implicit beliefs and models of the world most clearly in many nonverbal ways--through gesture, posture, pace, tension or relaxation of the muscles, and other subtle, somatic events. To work with the present-moment experience of clients, therapists must first be able to pay attention to these signals. This can be difficult for many of us who've been well trained to pay…