Emotional-Kinesthetic Psychotherapy (EKP)
Emotional-Kinesthetic Psychotherapy, or EKP, is a form of therapy which incorporates the body in psychotherapy and seeks to help its followers using a variety of techniques to facilitate this integrative process, including touch. An EKP therapist seeks to create an environment of emotional safety and respect to allow the patient to access all parts of the human condition and reveal their body, heart, soul and mind.
History of Emotional-Kinesthetic Psychotherapy (EKP)
EKP was developed by Linda Marks from her experience as a trauma survivor. She sought to study different approaches to psychotherapy which studied the body. This type of therapy draws from Ron Kurtz's Hakomi and incorporates aspects of Eugene Gendlin's focusing and Robert Assagioli's psychosynthesis. EKP is formulated to respond to each client's particular needs by using character typology, a model of human personality which was conceived by Wilhelm Reich and further developed by Alexander Lowen and John Pierrakos when they created bioenergetics.
The Institute for Emotional-Kinesthetic Psychotherapy was founded by Marks in 1990, although she had been applying the core principles of EKP in her own private practice and personal growth workshops since 1985.
The Basic Principles of Emotional-Kinesthetic Psychotherapy (EKP)
The goal of an EKP therapist is to help clients achieve an integration which allows them to live more productive and meaningful lives. The therapy aims to allow its clients to heal the parts within them which are most wounded, meet their simplest needs which are unmet, and reclaim the deepest part of their inner selves.
How Emotional-Kinesthetic Psychotherapy (EKP) is Practiced
A typical session of EKP can be expected to include:
- The therapist leading the client through meditation, which EKP typically calls a heart meditation. In this phase, the client explores the physical and emotional feelings they experience in their heart as it relates to what is happening in important areas of their lives, such as personal relationships, work, and their self-esteem. Heart meditations begin with the client "centering" himself or herself to create a safe, spiritually inclusive environment in which they can indulge in their therapy.
- The client shares aspects of his or her life in order to create a context for continuing with a therapy program.
- The therapist helps the client call attention to the present moment and what is happening in the body and the heart. In this way, the client follows somatic and emotional processes.
- With permission and when appropriate, touching is involved in order to facilitate emotional processes.
- The client is guided toward perception of his or her sensations, such as tightness, numbness or jitteriness. These sensations are considered to be the embodiment of the client's inner state and are referred to as the EKP charge. The therapist attempts to help the client trace the EKP charge to its source, which may be unmet needs or a traumatic experience from the past. This type of guiding is known in EKP as process work.
- The session is closed by calling attention to the somatic experiences and emotions which emerged during the therapy. The client frequently undergoes this part of the session with closed eyes to assimilate the inner experiences which took place. The client then returns to an open-eyed, outer state of consciousness.
Others phases can include pacing, which is considered an important part of building trust and establishing emotional safety. Typically, creating an emotionally safe relationship takes time and a comfortable pace needs to be cultivated in such a healing relationship. Creating space is just part of the emotional safety in a relationship. This also includes welcoming all parts of a person, including those which are known as well as those still unknown.
Setting appropriate boundaries is imperative in order to provide emotional safety for the client. Clear boundaries which are set at the beginning of the therapy session can create a safe holding environment for the client's "inner work."
The term "presence" is also meant to include offering one's full attention to another, all the while being grounded in yourself. This type of presence should offer a sense of welcoming which is non-judgmental, safe and healing.
Accountability is the approach which assumes a person's actions will be in line with what they say. This includes an attentiveness to the other person's needs and the impact which one's behavior will have on others.
Benefits of EKP Therapy Programs
Although people using EKP as their choice of therapy can experience many benefits, some of the most simple benefits can include alleviating pain, developing a stronger sense of self and achieving stress reduction. On a deeper level of healing, EKP can be used to help an individual find his or her voice and to develop work and personal relationships from the core of one's being. A sense of spiritual purpose can also be achieved through EKP sessions.
Those clients or patients who are involved in a serious psychotic crisis should seek other therapeutic approaches.
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