William James, father of Pragmatism, teaches us that in an ever-changing universe certain guidelines must be applied. New technologies must come out of, yet honor, old realities. James suggests that we need to lean on older working systems while discovering new facts that we can grasp and use, so as to update and integrate this link from the past with the future. New wisdoms and modalities are the products of new experiences and old methods combined, mutually modifying one another.
I began psychotherapy at 30 years of age for the first time in my life of which had been full of harsh challenges and the creation of, to my mind, very workable survival techniques. Unfortunately, I hit a wall. Nothing worked anymore. I was totally lost. A trusted friend suggested her therapist to this middle-class blue-collar dude; therapy in 1975 was for crazy people. I was quite furtive about this first encounter.
My first therapist referred to her method as psychoanalytic psychotherapy. Back then, I had no clue what that meant and I had no place to turn. My therapist was earnest and kind. Yet, simultaneously the clinical distance always made me a bit jagged inside though I could not have put words to the experience back then, I did not know this was part of the analytic therapeutic process. I hated when she would ask, how do you feel about that? At first, I could not identify any feeling except the annoyance of her asking and other angers, and despair. Any other feelings where unavailable to me, perhaps frozen somewhere. Yet, it disturbed me that she kept asking. Indeed and over the course of several years, she was enormously helpful to me. I resolved what I had seen as my most pressing problem of career paralysis with her support. I also got clean and sober after a long addiction problem. I also learned that I had complex and multidimensional feelings. Not a bad stint, and I and am very appreciative and indebted to her.
In retrospect, my first therapy encounter only disappointed me once. At a point, the analyst’s energy and cloaked dialogue got my psyche in a twist as to if I was really gay. She seemed to feel I might be straight. Reengaging in this sensitive area after thinking I had already difficultly come to terms with it, put me through a year of hell. I ended that suffering by finally instinctually going to my body’s intelligence. A litmus test emerged: I would walk down 5th Avenue on a lovely spring day and just notice if I was affectionately and erotically attracted to more men or woman. Men won, hands down, and the situation was forever resolved.
Was there some prescient consciousness that by bringing awareness and reliance on the body’s intelligence and felt senses would be the way of practicing psychotherapy today for me professionally? For some we call it healing resolution of traumas, and other physiological, intimacy, and sexuality barriers. Barriers are frozen energy walls that hold us back from the inside. While some “resolution” clients come on a mutually agreed schedule that works for us, most are still on the 50-minute therapeutic hour weekly or biweekly. We still mostly label it psychotherapy, and that is good enough. There is something very new within what James would refer to as the old methods.
I now notice that I’ve been through a series of psychotherapy methods, inviting my clients and workshop attendees to explore with me. After the analysis style, I found myself in the experiential models like psychodrama, meditative exercises, and less clinical distance. In the absence of the detached leader milieu, we all (therapist/facilitator included) become partners in the lifeboat of time-appropriate complexities, challenges, and exaltations riding the universal sea as well as the personal. This style fit me better, as it incorporates what Carl Rogers, the father of humanistic psychology, proclaimed so strongly:
Without an authentic relationship between the client and the practitioner, deep healing cannot occur.
This also resonated with the healing I received in addiction recovery programs. We came together despite the lack of science in this model to put this life threatening disease in remission. This was something I could trust because I experienced, witnessed and felt it.
In writing my first book The Journey Toward Complete Recovery: Reclaiming Your Emotional, Spiritual & Sexual Wholeness it was an attempt to give psychotherapy and newly sober individuals a birds-eye view of the therapeutic process and what benefits to expect. During this intense research and reporting time, I found myself drawn to the methods that were not analytic, while they informed my studies, they weren’t experientially and emotion driven either. They were somatically (body sense) and energy driven, similar to the way years earlier I resolved my gay/straight conundrum. My body and energy spoke and I listened and it was liberating!
Out of this double-decade study since completing my analysis, a new synthesis of methods (to-this-moment) has come to/through me that I have named Focalizing, as it is distinct, yet similar, to the many methods in which I have emerged myself. There are many comparable methods emerging simultaneously all over the world. Since I know best what I’m presently focused on, I’ll use it to demonstrate one of the newer tangible psychotherapies. The reader can then explore other methods for themselves that may produce similar tangible results. Those last two words are paramount. I always encourage clients to experience tangible inner results from each session, something they can feel and articulate. If that is not happening, then we resolve what may be blocking these natural occurrences from the shared process. When individuals leaves my office they are often effusive with gratitude for the relief from the mysterious inner shift that has occurred and makes them feel lighter. This inner experience has a felt sensation to it and also carries a new clarity in perceptions and experience. And, though it is an invisible inner awareness, I always experience them as real as sensing anything with my five senses.
The big difference here in the psychotherapy evolution is the gradual shifting from an analytic biographical process, to an experiential emotional process, to the present somatic intelligence, source energy (naturopathic) resolution methods, many mirroring the latest discoveries in neurobiology. In his book, Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation, Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, beautifully illustrates the integration of brain science with our newer psychotherapies.
Dr. Picucci brings decades of investigation and experience to his practice of Psychotherapy, Focalizing and Consulting. His professional expertise spans a wide-range of disciplines as a psychologist, licensed psychotherapist, Master Addictions Counselor, Sexologist, Somatic Experiencing Practitioner and Organizational Consultant.
Recipient of the National Institutes on Health “Outstanding Leadership in Research Award,” the last 30 years of Dr. Picucci’s exploration in Social Sciences, Organizational Development and Energy Psychology has focused on addictions, trauma healing, sexuality, and interpersonal and group dynamics. During this time he has been observing and creating rituals for sane, healthy living for individual clients, couples, groups and organizations. The story of this journey and his discoveries is told in Dr. Picucci’s books.