Liberation Psychotherapy is constructed on basic evolutionary processes identifiable in human psychology. It asserts that by observing those dynamic processes in sessions, analysts can specifically point to how a client functions normally or dysfunctionally. Therapist and client work cooperatively on a given issue, sharing aloud all information. Five principles form the primary communication in therapy: life force energy, abandonment, emotions, modularity, and presuppositions.
The purpose of sharing this information is to provide empirically tested tools for professional psychotherapists as well as to individuals seeking to move toward emotional and mental freedom.
In 1975 psychotherapists Lela Gescheidle Morris and Frank Reinhardt Morris began to develop a therapeutic system that would work to free clients from internal restraints. They also sought to help individuals develop free identities based on fluid awareness of emotions and to guide them to have healthy and loving relationships.
Their pursuit of value in various systems began with psychoanalysis and proceeded to other therapeutic approaches such as Gestalt, client-centered therapy, rational-emotive behavior therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, neuro-linguistic programming, breathing therapies, and body therapies. Any book or paper was of interest to them that provided insights into psychotherapy and human nature. The foundational question remained: "What worked?" They concluded that the theory they were developing must be and remain dynamic. Rather than a final, complete, solitary system which promised ultimate healing, what was needed was a continually evolving approach integrating aspects of other therapies.
Their belief in the equality of therapist and client in the healing journey resulted in a large, lasting client practice. In addition to working with individuals, unique to their practice was a process of therapeutic training groups of 12 to 24 persons at a time that met monthly. With these weekend therapeutic immersion experiences, Morrises engaged three or four groups each month, each committed to two to three years together. Morrises believed that training clients to understand the therapeutic theory and process invited clients to become independent. As they taught and provided written material, their clients could more completely assess and provide feedback as to what made sense or did not, and what worked for them or did not. Through this constant testing process, the core of liberation psychotherapy emerged. In this way, this theory was empirically shaped by thousands of clients over 40 years.
Theory: Five principlesEdit
The foundational premise of liberation psychotherapy is that human development progresses in terms of both bodies and minds following a blueprint inherited from animal ancestors. This framework allows a deep understanding of human behavior and provides an entry point for all therapeutic intervention. The theory holds that humans inherited given instincts which unconsciously lead to given actions. For example, human and other mammalian newborns instinctively know how to suckle.
The five major principles of liberation psychotherapy relate to evolutionary instincts.
Life force energy. From infancy on, humans instinctively act to stay alive. A baby signals the need for care by crying and moving of limbs. This crying reflex at the beginning of life exhibits an inherent blueprint organized around the drive for a well-developed, sustainable existence. The therapist realizes this as a hidden resource operative in clients, a life force energy, desperately desiring a good, satisfactory life. This, the child registers insufficient care as a psychological trauma. Psychotherapy seeks to positively reconstruct the blueprint. Through multiple therapeutic procedures, the therapist uses words, set patterns, and homework to undo the original harm while installing new life-giving options. This first principle undergirds everything else done in therapy.
Abandonment. Through childhood and often into adulthood, individuals experience a massive fear of abandonment, which early in childhood would have meant death. The need to belong is met by families, communities, and nations. Individuals define themselves accordingly. Abandonment fear leads to adaptations that steal freedom of being, thinking, and acting, and must be addressed in psychotherapy. This fear is not rare. Practitioners of liberation psychotherapy insist that clients maintains a tenacious resolve to not give their power of self-determination to anyone else, so that daily adaptations cease and the person moves from reflexive fear of abandonment. For instance, to keep a marriage healthy each partner establishes lines which cannot be crossed by the other's unacceptable addictions, which destroy basic trust.
Emotions. Prime emotions developed over eons of evolution. Informed by Erik Erikson's childhood development work and Charles Darwin's attention to innate emotions, and after looking at the words children most naturally choose to describe how they are feeling, liberation psychotherapy names six key emotions that form the basic unit of therapy: sadness, anger, scare, happiness, excitement, and tenderness. The acronym SASHET is used to help clients remember them. The process of tracking and emphasizing these six remnant evolutionary instincts in every therapeutic session opens access to the original blocked source of a given story told by a client. Tracking emotions through an individual's emotional labyrinth leads to enlightenment as a puzzling piece of behavior is deciphered, an old adaptation is discarded, and the person feels a new freedom.
Modularity. Human minds and behavior consists of psychological parts. Each of us is an evolutionary composite rather than a solidly coherent thinking individual, as consciousness leads us to believe. Neuroscientists such as Richard Restak have found that our brains are modular in development and action. In liberation psychotherapy, clients come to realize that a given problematic behavior is only one part of their entire personality, a part that has a given structure and a source that can be either discarded or given a new role in one's makeup.
Presuppositions. Clients need relationships and want to learn how to develop good ones, especially in terms of raising children, dealing with family, and bonding to a spouse. Learning to use presuppositions provides a way to answer this need. The basic idea is that each individual is necessarily and often unwittingly shaping others and can have great impact by choosing to do so positively. Here, clients learn to take charge of their linguistic options to "tell others who they are," helping significant others to have a positive self-identity and fulfilling relationships. Thus this process becomes a servant of life force energy rather than manipulation.
These five principles form the realities of every therapeutic session. The goal for both clients and their significant relationships is soul liberation: freedom of being, freedom of thinking, freedom of bodily and psychological experience, and the daily activation of joy.
The therapeutic process relies on both therapist and client being completely transparent. Rather than being prescriptive, therapy sessions are cooperative with two individuals figuring matters out as equal partners.
While procedures are flexible, dictated by each session's needs, the prime approach follows a four-step structure.
- Diagnose the emotions using questions that follow the Morris Matrix. Sadness, anger, and scare are the primary triggers of negative thinking and actions. Happiness, excitement, and tenderness are the primary triggers of positive thinking and actions.
- Identify whether the emotional trigger is real, manipulative, copied, or traumatic. Real emotion relates to what is happening in the present-day world. Manipulative emotions is meant to accomplish a controlled response, stemming from a childhood adaptation to gain a predictable reaction from a parent or sibling. Copied emotions occur with an empathetic intrusion of someone else's emotions. Traumatic emotions signal the replaying of a ferocious trauma or some repeating pattern that required a childhood adaptation to survive. Traumatic feelings represent a trigger to some blockage to human freedom. Use of the Morris Matrix pinpoints the source of the blockage, and the Anatomy of a Trauma is then the process utilized by the therapist to guide the client to make an alternative, current decision.
- Ask what benefit, hidden or perceived, the person experiences as a result of expressing the old feeling they have named. Once the type of emotion is verified and the location of that emotion begins to be identified, the therapist and client can move to the next step.
- The therapist will flexibly explore each level of the Anatomy of a Trauma, frequently led by the client as he or she gains familiarity with the process, to fully understand and work for the psychological freedom of the person mentally regressing to this old situation. The goals of trauma resolution are to release the emotion, make a new decision in light of present day skills and resources, melt the body armor, redo patterns, make sure the need/want/wish is realized or dealt with substantially, get appropriate nurture, and return to conscious, healthy thinking.