Freedom Horse Collage 100dpi 260

 I imagine all of us have had our share of anger, as it is a natural and normal human emotion. Anger is fundamentally a defense strategy. It arises from the solar plexus area of the body to protect us from being treated with disrespect or harmed in any way. Although anger can cause much harm, it is fundamentally a healthy emotion.

Can you imagine what it would be like if, as a child, all your angry emotions were strictly forbidden?  I once worked with a client “Sue” many years ago who’s mother was very inconsistent. One minute she was supportive and sweet, and the next she would fly into a rage over the smallest infraction. Sue was furious about her mistreatment, but she also learned early on that it was not ok for her to have any angry feelings toward her mother. She could not risk threatening the attachment relationship with the person who also gave her nurturance.

Fast forward 30 years, and we find Sue with a lot of pain in her body. Her anger got packed into her tissues after years of a chronic “clamping down” pattern. She came into therapy to work on this, but every time we touched her anger, fear would arise and she would disassociate.

First, we had to work on her belief systems, so she could give herself permission to have her anger. We had to separate the past from the present and future. It was unsafe then to have her anger, but it is not unsafe now.

We then moved to the felt sensation of anger in her body. It started as a contraction in the solar plexus area. As Sue’s capacity to stay present increased, the congested energy began to soften and move up toward the throat chakra, where it met another constriction. It took a while to open this constriction, because it meant directly expressing her anger. Eventually the backlog of repressed anger moved out, and Sue began to feel much more alive. She was able to express her anger appropriately and attract more loving people into her life.


Ancestor Spirits bdr 260I know of many people, including myself, who experience the world as unstable and uncertain. A quick glance at the environmental, social, political and economic events on the planet can, at times, induce and instant fear response. I found myself working regularly on the task of pulling my brain/mind up and out of fear.

The “house of fear” in our brain is the amygdala, which resides in the lower brain. One thought can fire off the amygdala. When I wake up in the morning and feel a little anxious, I know my amygdala is active. To create an upward spiral and raise my consciousness to a more positive state, I need to activate other regions of my brain. Oddly enough, the next step I take is to energetically open and spin my heart chakra. This activates the insula, which responds to soothing touch and food. It is also responsible for the feeling of love. By lovingly connecting with myself I spiral myself up to the mid-brain. I usually start feeling a bit better at this point.

         Some mornings during my meditation, I desire to go even higher up the spiral and connect to my spirit guides. I start spinning the pineal gland area of my brain, and my crown chackra. I also do some vigorous breathing and draw the energy up my spine to the crown, and then upward beyond the crown chackra. I call in my spirit guides and ask a question.

Sometimes it takes me a while to “connect” with them, so I have to practice patients here. Once I connect 2 things happen. This first thing is that I feel an in-pouring of love and light, which feels very good!  The second thing is that I do get some verbal guidance, which helps my mind relax and quit worrying.


Healer sml bdr 260I have noticed that in many spiritual traditions the ego is considered a negative thing, and in many psychological traditions it is considered a positive thing. What is the truth in this matter? As we explore this issue, let’s take a peek into the many ways the ego shows up in the energy field. The first place I notice the ego in the field is at the edge of our auric bubble or “egg”, which is often about two or three feet outside of our physical body.  If the shell of the egg is very rigid, there is a good chance this individual has a strong ego. The firm personal boundary correlates with a strong sense of personal self. Such an individual is not overtaken by another person’s energy or opinions. From a psychological perspective, this is healthy. From a spiritual perspective, being overly self-referenced can create an artificial separation between self and other beings.

       The second place a strong ego shows up in the energy field is in the “character armor.” Parts of the energy field, a few inches outside the physical body, solidify into shields or plates of protective armor. This is usually in the torso area.  Such shields are created to protect us, and they also end up limiting our capacity for authentic connection and intimacy. If one of the goals of the spiritual path is to cultivate “intimacy with all of life”, then ultimately the fears and beliefs that keep the shield in place need to be examined and reconsidered.

       I have also noticed that many sensitive souls easily feel the energies around them. They may be psychic or intuitive, but also loose themselves in other people’s energy. These people do not have a strong enough ego boundary.

       The ideal ego boundary is both strong and flexible. It can contain our own energy yet open to authentic connection with others, open to nature and the spirit world. While we are developing a healthy ego boundary, we need to also work with our mind. The term ego has often meant “ego identification”, which means we are thoroughly self-referenced and our belief system does not extend outside our sense of self. Many spiritual traditions encourage us to wake up out of this kind of ego identification.

         So we see that the ego has both negative and positive aspects. On the path of transformation it is important to get a sense of the state of your own ego, and evolve it to a more functioning energetic organ.


healing child 260In my psychotherapy practice, I work with a lot of people in the 20 something age group. These beautiful young people are working on becoming empowered in the world, and are often aware of their hurt inner child as well. Fairly often there is some repressed anger in their system. As they begin to differentiate from the family of origin, they become more aware of the needs that were not met in their childhood.        Let us imagine a client named “Beth”. Beth’s mom was emotionally unavailable and Beth was very angry about it. Numerous times she would complain to her mom about how she just didn’t “get” her. These complaints would often turn into shouting matches, or “temper tantrums”.  When Beth brought the issue into therapy, we tuned into her body. There was a strong gripping or contraction in her right shoulder area. I guided Beth into physically grounding and centering, and the sensation in the shoulder increased. By staying present with it, eventually the energy began to soften and move. Through the course of the session, it moved all the way down her torso and leg. Eventually it began to release out her foot. I asked Beth if there were a kick somewhere in that contraction, and indeed there was. The contraction was a frozen “action impulse” that wanted to kick her mom.

       While the energy release was happening, we explored the expectations of the child. The child wanted authentic contact, and was very angry about not getting it. Both the wanting it and the anger were wholesome emotions for the child, and I helped Beth see that. We then moved toward her adult. I helped Beth see that although her child wanted authentic contact, her mother was simply not able to provide it. She did not have the capacity. I encouraged Beth to quit expecting that from her mother. I helped her realize that as a young adult, she was now 100% responsible for her own nurturing. She must learn to give it to herself, or draw in people who could give it to her. At this point Beth began to feel guilty for her child “demanding” her mother nurture her, so we spent some time working through the guilt. At the end of the session Beth decided to write a letter to her mother apologizing for her tantrum. She was well on the way toward healing the unconscious expectations of her inner child.


Y1DTfXN9During an introductory psychotherapy session I often do an energy chakra reading. This serves as part of my intake process. When I offer a reading, many people are curious about how a reading interfaces with psychotherapy. Let me give an example. Let us imagine that a prospective new client, “Jane”, is considering psychotherapy. She has a lot of trouble with her work life. She changes jobs frequently and never seems to be satisfied with work. On more than one occasion, she has been fired. When I read into Jane’s Solar Plexus chakra, I sense a lot of constricted energy. There is a big knot in her belly. I see an image of her inner child hiding in the back of a cave. I also see an image of a heavy male energy. I tell Jane about the child image, and mention the male energy. She starts telling me that her father was often critical, angry and verbally abusive.

         The Solar Plexus chakra is about empowerment in the world. Our personal will lives there. When this chakra is fully functioning we can move through the work world more effectively. The abuse Jane experienced has left its mark in her chakra. With this information we can now design a treatment program for her. I utilize a combination of body-centered awareness, mindfulness, inner child work and other healing modalities, to treat her work challenges and restore her Solar Plexus chakra to full functioning.

The Heart Chakra

cosmic heart 260We are now in the season of the heart, and I would like to explore one way we work with the heart in ARCHETYPAL ENERGY PSYCHOTHERAPY.  Let’s imagine a client named “Sue” comes in for therapy. She has had trouble manifesting a significant relationship for several years. During the intake I learn that her mother was often emotionally unavailable, and often mean. Her father was an alcoholic. When I have her scan her body and energy field, she reports a tight congested spot in the heart chakra. She also names some sadness and anger.

          As the session progresses, a question arises for her mother: Why weren’t you there for me? Sue had a hard time even asking the question out loud. We would pause after each time she said it, and check in with her heart chakra. The pain and contraction initially increased, as it came more into her awareness. There was a lot of sadness, and some guilt. When Sue would remember the good parts of her mother, she felt guilty for asking this question. We worked a bit on understanding that we can have loving feelings along side hurt and anger.

         As we continue to work, the congestion in Sue’s heart softenes openes up, so we moved on toward receiving goodness. At this point I had Sue imagine the perfect mother, an archetypal mother. Her perfect mother would be soft, consistent, kind, present and affectionate.

         Why do we imagine the archetypal mother?  The research in neuro-science has shown that imagining an event activates the brain in the same way as experiencing an event. In this case we are talking about the insula in the brain. The insula registers soothing touch and nourishment, which the perfect mother provides. By imagining the archetypal mother, we actually grow new nero-pathways in the brain, and eventually over-ride the negative mother memories.

         Initially Sue had a hard time receiving the touch and attention from this archetypal mother.  Since her mother wound was pretty deep, it may take a while for her to fully change her neuro-pathways. However, a lot of the pain and heaviness in her heart chakra shifted. We did make some significant progress in this session, and Sue will continue visualizing receiving nourishment from the archetypal mother.

The Negativity Bias of the Brain

  C 5 disks  stuck energy 260    Have you ever found your mind caught in a negative thought loop? If you have observed this you may be wondering why it seems so easy to “go negative, or stay negative”. We as human beings tend to have our attention drawn to the  negative.  Dr. Baumeister and colleagues, in his work, “Bad is Stronger than Good”, noted there is strong support for the notion that negative information generally has a stronger pull on attention than does positive information. It turns out that the wiring of our brain is the culprit for this fact. Other research indicates  that negative things stick out and make a lasting impression much easier than positive things. Generally speaking, when people are presented with a range of trait information about a target individual, the traits are neither “averaged” nor “summed” to reach a final impression. Rather, negative things move to the front of the line, and are remembered the most.  When traits differ in terms of their positivity and negativity, negative traits disproportionately impact the final impression.

      If you form a negative belief about another person and store it in your memory, it may take 7 to 10 positive things to soften your view of that person. Many people, however, do not want to change their view of another person. It takes quite a bit of mindful awareness to choose to let go of a negative belief. Negative beliefs are wired into the amygdala of the brain, that spot where fear gathers. Once we decide that something is fearful, we are in no hurry to reassess. In the field of neuroscience they discovered that startling experiences go immediately into the long-term memory circuits, and positive things do not. It may take up to 30 seconds of focused attention for an experience to go into long-term memory. It is no surprise, with life’s many daily challenges, that many people have gotten stuck on the negativity loop. The good news is that there are many tools available to counteract the negativity bias of the brain.

Ways we Avoid Pain

Our body is designed to move toward pleasure and away from pain. For most of us, this translates into developing complex strategies as a way of avoiding pain. Do you recognize any of the following in your life?

ORAL: If you didn’t get enough nurturance in your early life, it is easy to develop an oral strategy. Food, beverages, or nicotine can all activate feel-good hormones and help us avoid pain. (connection, love, nurturing)

ACQUIRING THINGS: When we buy something new, feel-good hormones are released in the brain, and we experience pleasure. When this becomes an entrenched strategy, we need to shop a lot! (connection, nurturing)

SEXUALIZED STRATEGY:  Once a person becomes sexually active, it is easy to get drawn into the power and pleasure of sexual energy. When we habitually turn toward this energy, we may be avoiding pain.  Sometimes this pattern takes a seductive form when we enjoy the power of drawing others toward us in this way. Often this strategy precludes true intimacy. (connection, autonomy love)

SELF-RELIANCE:  If we did not receive the support and nurturance we needed as a child, we could develop a strategy where we “do it all ourselves” to cover up the pain of feeling unsupported. (Autonomy, safety, trust

WORKAHOLIC STRATEGY:  Some children and adults figure out that if they keep themselves busy all the time they don’t have to feel their uncomfortable emotions. By shifting your awareness away from your body and feelings and focusing on work, you avoid the pain of messy emotions.  (connection, attunement, respect, love)

DECEPTION: If you were a child in a dysfunctional family and it wasn’t safe to “speak your truth,” you may have developed a deceptive strategy. This deception can show up in a variety of ways. You might lie, or puff yourself up to look more competent than you feel. You might become manipulative, charming, or seductive. All of this deception is in place to protect yourself from feeling pain. (attunement, trust, autonomy)

PEOPLE-PLEASING AND SELF CENSORSHIP: If you have this strategy, you go out of your way to get the other person what they need, often at your own expense. You don’t ask for what you need, or clearly voice your preference. Often this strategy is fueled by the fear of conflict or feelings of unworthiness. (autonomy, nurturing, mirroring, self-expression)

INTELLECTUALIZING: In our culture at large we are encouraged to think instead of feel. It is pretty easy to develop a strategy where we do just that. (connection, attunement, trust)

CONTROL: If you have this strategy, you try to manage the uncertainty and unpredictability of life by trying to control details, or control the people near you. (trust)

VICTIM IDENTITY: In this strategy a person plays the “powerless” card. This lets you avoid any fear, shame, pain, discomfort, or loss of relationship that might be required if you take responsibility, speak your truth, or stay present during conflict. (trust, connection)

SCREEN ADDICTION: One of the latest and most popular avoidant strategies involves gluing yourself to your smart phone or other screen.  Those little bits of electronic contact can keep you very distracted from the whole range of emotions and sensations moving through your being. (connection, nurturance)

ARROGANCE:  This strategy displays as a subtle or not-so-subtle sense of superiority. This often masks feelings of shame or unworthiness. (trust, connection)

These strategies arise from unmet needs in our early life, which can be grouped into five main categories:  CONNECTION, ATTUNEMENT, TRUST, AUTONOMY, HEALTHY SEXUALITY.







ARCHETYPAL Energy Psychotherapy

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I am sometimes asked what the ARCHETYPAL part of Archetypal energy Psychotherapy is, so I would like to address that question here. An archetype is a prototype, a broad brush stroke of an energy pattern or being. Some common archetypes are the mother, father, child, warrior, wholeness, higher self or wise sage, defensive parts or the mystic center. It is important to differentiate between the archetype and the symbol of the archetype. Take for example the archetype of the mother. Some ancient cultures have symbolized the energy of the nurturing mother as a cow. In Alaska, however, the native peoples there used the symbol of a whale to represent the mother. Same archetype, different symbol.

            In Archetypal Energy Psychotherapy healing archetypes are sometimes invoked, or spontaneously appear. Let me give you an example from a session I did many years ago.  My client was struggling with the fact that her father appeared to be rejecting her, and her mother was cold and un-nurturing. These two issues made it very difficult to come out and function in the world. She was often so angry about the situation that she would scream at the people she loved, pushing them away. She also disclosed that she almost died as an infant because she couldn’t absorb her mother’s emotionally toxic milk. We explored the issues, recalling old memories and allowing for emotional release. The client feared that the father was pushing her right out of existence, and she would die. I guided her into the sensations in her body and energy field, and then a series of images unfolded.

             The client saw herself about 3 years old, riding a tricycle right toward “the void”. She was very afraid of disappearing, but I encouraged her to go into the void and see what was there.  As she approached the portal to the void, she got smaller and smaller, until she disappeared through the portal. Immediately she found herself in the body of the great cosmic mother. She was held and nurtured there, as a fetus in the womb.  Then the mother began extracting little dark pearls of toxins from her body, and replacing them with pearls of light and love.  I guided the client to sense into her body and really absorb the love into her very cells.

            In the next image, the client saw herself in a teepee. She was a newborn baby being lovingly mothered. Time went by, and soon she was ready to explore the world a bit. As she crawled out the teepee door, an archetypal father was waiting there for her. He appeared as a Native American, strong yet gentle. He took her hand and helped her walk.  I guided my client to see if that being had an identifying name, so she could call on him again. His name was Speechwalker. We were both a little puzzled but then the client realized that this archetypal father was here to help her learn to speak more skillfully, and walk into the world!

            Research in the field of neuro-science reveals that there is no difference to the brain between visualizing something and physically experiencing it. By accessing the archetypes of the nurturing mother and helpful father, my client was building new, wholesome neural-pathways in her brain. She was repairing the damage by her dysfunctional family of origin.  I encouraged her to visit this archetypal mother and father often, to fully resculpt her brain and eventually heal her mother and father wounds.



Welcome, readers. I would like to open this blog by exploring one of our profound needs as a human being, which is CONNECTION. The quality of our connections in utero and early childhood effect the quality of our connections the rest of our lives. If those connections were poor, we can develop a whole “survival style” around those unmet needs. I have a personal interest in this topic, because my own early connections were inadequate.

In Archetypal Energy Psychotherapy and Trauma Release work I use the 5 survival styles developed by the NARM method of therapy. The first survival style is appropriately labeled CONNECTION. A person with this survival style can often feel shame at even existing. They feel like a burden to those around them and often have an overwhelming sense of not belonging to the family or tribe they were born into. The root chakra in people with the connection survival style is often blocked and not working. People with these unmet needs often demonstrate the symptoms of trauma, including disassociation.  The compensating,  pride-based identifications might include pride in being a loner and not needing others, or pride in not being emotional.

The pain that people with the connection survival style feel can be immense. Every day can hold a sense of not belonging and of profound loneliness. Because their root chakra is not functioning, many of these people are very ungrounded in their lives. They may move from house to house, town to town, and relationship to relationship. Many homeless people have early bonding and connection wounds. Others with this style spend their days semi-disassociated. A numbing fog softens the intensity of the pain. Many of the activities on the long list of ways to avoid pain are employed by people with the connection survival style. Learning to become present with pain, is often very difficult for people with bonding wounds. When they do cultivate the skill, the intense shame of not belonging emerges.

“When I would go to therapy, my therapist would have me sink into my body and begin to feel myself. Inevitably I would fall asleep, right on the spot! At times she invited be to surrender to the sleep, and then I would experience myself floating out of my body. It took months before I could stay present with myself without escaping in this way. My mom had a major taboo against me being me. When I finally did come into my body, I felt this profound shame and embarrassment balled up in a knot in my belly. It was impossible for me to feel welcome where ever I was.

In my Archetypal Energy Psychotherapy and Trauma Release work, I utilize a variety of tools to help heal connection and bonding wounds.