PBSP® is a psychotherapy that facilitates essential human processes and the satisfaction of basic developmental needs that result in a life of meaning and pleasure. PBSP® provides a time and space for “structures”, a symbolic reenactment procedure that uses the resources of the body, mind and soul to fulfill the innate need to:
- Become wholly and truly “who we are”
- Satisfy the basic developmental needs for “place,” “nurture,” “support,” “protection,” and “limits”
- Integrate and unify the polarities of our biological and psychological being
- Develop our consciousness
- Develop our self-organizing center – “pilot”
- Realize our personal uniqueness and potentiality
How it works
In an atmosphere of safety, care and respect that we call the “possibility sphere,” the therapist closely and carefully tracks the meaning of verbal, nonverbal, and emotional information that comes to clients’ attention as it rises to the surface of their minds and bodies. This meaning becomes increasingly clear representing what we call “center of truth” and “true scene.”
A role-played “voice of truth” figure externalizes and illustrates the clients’ spoken thoughts and beliefs by stating, in the imperative, the old “truths” the client lives by. If the client says, “I have to take care of myself because there is no one in the world who will do that for me,” The “voice of truth” can be instructed to repeat that phrase, word for word except for changing the pronouns: “You have to take care of yourself because there is no one in the world who will do that for you.”
A role-played “witness figure” validates the clients’ emotional expressions, naming each emotion (and the context of the emotion) in a compassionate, accepting manner; (“I see how bitter you feel as you hear that statement.”).
These techniques provide clients with an interior-exterior perspective and a comprehensive view and of the architecture and content of their cognitive and emotional processes while they are vividly connected to their feelings, sensations and impulses. This in itself is quite empowering, but we do not stop here.
Such clear internal and external views of consciousness spur the client’s associations and induce the recollection of past, life-shaping, events that have a similar configuration and emotional effect. Memories evoked by the “true scene” are powerful and experienced almost as if they were happening in the present. The client is thus in the dual position of “reliving” a vivid memory while at the same time observing him/her self from a therapeutic perspective.
If the client recalls the painful memory of the rejection and disappearance of his/her father while a child, the client can ask a group member to role-play the “rejecting and disappearing” aspect of his/her father. The client then places this figure in the room and establishes the “historical scene”.
Although absorbed with this externally represented memory, the client is nonetheless able to use his/her new-found awareness of emotions, body sensations, and impulses as the motive force to express what is coming up from moment to moment. “Accommodation,” the role-playing procedure that provides the wished-for interaction that matches each action, not only allows full expression of each emotion but provides maximum relief and satisfaction. Clients can thus air and safely integrate feelings that have been long buried and deeply repressed.
However, emotional expression alone is not enough for long lasting change. New learning requires new experience. What has happened, as well as what has not happened shapes our character and personality during our formative years. We cannot undo the past, but clients in a PBSP® structure experience what it might have been like to have had a non-rejecting, non-disappearing father. While clients are in the ‘as if real’ situation, vividly remembering past events, interactions with symbolic “ideal parents” provide their remembered child selves with experiences that would have had a positive influence on their attitudes towards themselves and the world.
For instance, a role-playing, “ideal father” might be asked to say, “Had I been back there then, I would not have rejected you or disappeared. I would have fathered you while you were growing up.” The client hears this while deeply connected with memories of past feeling states that are now coupled to the immediate experience of body and eye contact with the ideal figure. This is a complex orchestration that includes memories of the literal past, linked to the present symbolic scene which is presented as part of a hypothetical past. All this, coupled with emotionally laden tactile, auditory, and visual input, gives the client the stuff out of which he/she can construct new positive images of him/her self and the world These experiences and images enter the psyche at a core level and produce psychological/neurological reorganization.
The psychological re-mapping fostered by the creation of a hypothetical past acts as an antidote to the negative conditioning of actual past events. These new experiences give clients a positive lens through which to see and experience the world. They can now choose not to succumb, as they habitually had in the past when difficulties arose, to states of chaos, depression and anxiety. Thus clients can function more productively in present day, reality settings.
© Copyright Albert Pesso and Diane Boyden Pesso 1997 all rights reserved