Jennifer Wright, Clinical Psychologist and Certified Hakomi Therapist

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Hakomi is a form of body-centred psychotherapy which focuses on using mindfulness to enable positive and lasting changes in the client. The basis of the relationship between the client and the therapist in Hakomi is based on loving presence which hopefully will lead to mutual trust and respect, creating a space where deep emotional work and consequent changes in core beliefs can occur. Hakomi is also called assisted self-study, where the client is seen as the expert of their own processes. The therapist is there to support the client in accessing material which may have been repressed, and help the client to better understand his or her behaviour and become more loving to the self.

The name Hakomi comes from the Hopi Indian language and means “where in the many realms do I stand”.

The late Ron Kurtz developed the therapeutic approach in the 1970s. The Hakomi method combines Western psychology and body-centered techniques with Eastern philosophies of mindfulness and non-violence. Hakomi is grounded in five principles: mindfulness, nonviolence, organicity, unity and body-mind holism.

Traditional psychotherapy is called the "talking cure". Hakomi does not rely on a conversational style to promote healing. The therapist works with present experience, which is an essential ingredient of Hakomi therapeutic approach. The therapist helps the client to achieve mindfulness and study body sensations, emotions, and memories to invoke powerful and lasting changes.
Mindfulness, in Hakomi terms, is a process of quietening ourselves so that, usually with the help of a Hakomi therapist, we can study the ways we filter information about life. We constructed these patterns when we were much younger. By identifying these filters, often in the context of vividly re-experienced memories, Hakomi therapists help clients to develop a more current and accurate view of themselves and others. Mindfulness is an essential part of Hakomi therapy.

How does Hakomi work?

Hakomi involves several steps:

  1. Creating a healing relationship: The client and therapist work to build a relationship that enhances safety and the cooperation of the unconscious.
  2. Establishing mindfulness: The therapist helps the client to focus on and study the organisation of personal experience. The therapy is based on the concept that most behaviour is habitual and is organised by early memories and beliefs.
  3. Evoking experience: The client and therapist make direct contact with core feelings, beliefs, and memories, which have mostly been stored in the unconscious.
  4. State-specific processing: If the client is ready, the therapist helps the client make the transition to state-specific processing, which can involve mindfulness, strong emotions, and child-like consciousness.
  5. Transformation: The client experiences a new, healing way of approaching habitual problems.
  6. Integration: The client and therapist make connections between the new healing approach and the rest of the client's experiences.

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