The Reichian Therapist locates painful constrictions and facilitates expansion. What makes Reichian Therapy uniquely powerful is that it includes bodywork to address the physical, somatic component – the physical expression of the mind’s defenses. Dreams deepen the exploration because they provide direct access to the unconscious.
The Price of Constriction
The growing relationship with the therapist illuminates the protective stance we have in relation to others and ourselves. As we grow and survive adversity, we develop repetitive coping strategies to fend off difficult feelings. These strategies can alienate others, keep us from our true feelings, needs, and desires, and inhibit our ability to actualize our authentic selves. Our creativity and success in the world becomes minimized. Constricted respiration can be an additional sign of dysfunctional coping. Very few patients, indeed few people, breathe to full energetic capacity. One of the best ways to suppress painful emotions is to hold your breath. Infants and children spontaneously hold their breath in frightening situations. This happens to them many times each day in a dangerous environment. By adulthood, the chest is frozen in chronic constriction and the breath reduced to a minimum.
Problems of depression, anxiety, phobias, insomnia, emptiness, loneliness, eating disorders, and addiction are defined and understood as reaction patterns to both present and past issues. Chronic personality disorders and unhealthy behavioral patterns and symptoms have their roots in maladaptive character styles developed throughout a lifetime. As these all-inclusive patterns are confronted, the character defenses are dislodged, giving way to deeper issues and feelings that can finally be resolved. At this point the character is restructured and the individual can live a healthy, rewarding life.
The Process of Expansion
The Reichian Therapist usually starts biophysical work by focusing on the eyes and respiration. The eyes (as an extension of the brain) help us to sustain contact with the world and ourselves. Almost everyone has some blocking in the eyes, and it is important that the eyes be reasonably unarmored for therapy to proceed. It is also important to dissolve blocks in respiration as breathing is essential in building and sustaining an energy level that will “push” emotions to the surface.
Reichian or Orgone Therapy, works from the head down toward the pelvis, leaving the latter for last. At the same time characteranalytic work is proceeding, peeling back layers of character attitudes that hide emotion, the layers of body armor are dissolved as well. The combined work results in spontaneous emotional release and provides the therapist with a deeper understanding of the character of the patient, yielding insight on “where to go” to deepen the therapy.