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Interview with Hoffman Facilitator Julia Bodkin: Building Resiliency in Trauma

Annie: I’m here with a wonderful facilitator Julia Bodkin who is a very experienced somatic psychotherapist and also a senior Hoffman facilitator. I am excited to be speaking with Julia today about trauma and how the Hoffman process addresses trauma and helps to build resiliency.

Julia, you’ve been working with trauma now for many years one-on-one – I know that it’s a big topic but wondered if you can talk about how the Hoffman process, being a group process, helps people in dealing with and healing trauma.

Julia: Yes, I’m happy to do that because over the years I’ve seen that the process is much more helpful in dealing with trauma than I realized when I first started facilitating. There are different kinds of trauma but generally, the way to work with trauma and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) symptoms, is in a private one-on-one session. This is probably still the most effective for a very shocking or severe single incident trauma, but many symptoms that come under the umbrella of trauma are greatly alleviated by the Hoffman process.

Annie: So what are the different types of trauma that we’re talking about?

Julia: Well, single incident trauma is when one traumatic event occurs, like a road accident or a physical or emotional injury of some sort. It’s a one-off overwhelming experience for the person and can lead to intense adverse symptoms. And then there is developmental trauma that has more to do with the way that we were parented, how attachment was set up and how we were treated as children – it is laid down over many years and is more pervasive and can be harder to define.

What defines trauma is not the event itself, it’s the way the person responds to the event that determines whether the trauma has an on-going negative impact on the person.

Simply put, the definition of trauma is overwhelm; too much, too fast, too soon – it is when our nervous system is overwhelmed in some way and is unable to process the event or events. So this is also the case in developmental trauma or an early childhood trauma. It may be that for a period of a person’s childhood there was some kind of emotional abuse or physical abuse, extreme criticism or neglect and if this is an ongoing experience for the child then the nervous system is in a state of distress.  A seemingly small event on its own wouldn’t have so much impact but if it’s a pervasive atmosphere or the situation is repeated enough times it culminates into a burden on the nervous system of the child that can lead to all kinds of adaptive reactions and behaviors. These behaviors become patterns that may have even been useful in childhood, as a means of survival, but they become maladaptive as we grow up. An example of this would be avoiding any perceived conflict.

Annie: So that sounds like it relates to what Bob Hoffman called the Negative love syndrome. Do you see a cross over with that model and trauma?

Julia: Yes. When we live from a belief that we took on from our early childhood experiences – that’s what creates the Negative Love Syndrome. One of the things that we get to see so clearly in the process is that we made meaning out of negative experiences in our childhood. Our perceptions of the ways that we were treated or difficult circumstances lead us to take on negative beliefs about ourselves –  “I’m unworthy”, “I don’t belong”, “the world is unsafe”, for example are in a way states of trauma and lenses that we then see through and live our lives from.

A lot of the first part of the process is about becoming aware of these beliefs, seeing how they live in our minds and bodies and as the week progresses, through a series of very well structured exercises, moving us towards a sense of wholeness and health.

To use a term that Bessel van der Kolk uses the healing of trauma is about ‘dis-confirming the traumatizing reality’ which is what we do in the Hoffman process as we start to challenge the false beliefs that our negative patterns hold us to… and we start to open up to and experience the actual reality that we are loved, that we are loving, and that we are lovable.

An important part of the week is that we have processes that lead us into the embodiment of this truth because the healing has to happen in the body because that’s a large part of where the trauma has become stuck. It is cumulative and is held in the body.

Annie: So, trauma is held in the body, it’s not just a mental health issue.

Julia: That’s right, and this is a very important point to recognize. It’s been well researched that the only effective resolution of trauma is when it’s addressed somatically, through the body, not only by talking about it. It’s been well documented that talking about the traumatic event or replaying negative childhood experiences without addressing it through movement and other ways of releasing where it is held in the body can actually be re-traumatising.

Trauma becomes stuck in the body when the difficult situation (trauma) occurs, and the person’s fight or flight response has not been able to happen. It’s when an event or events have been overwhelming in some way but the person hasn’t been able, for whatever reason, to protect themselves nor have they been able to run away. The natural reflex of fight or flight was thwarted causing the person to freeze, and then the energy and adrenaline that was produced and would have been released is held in the body. It’s as if the switch that indicates danger is stuck ON and then becomes a kind of looping in the mind that leads to beliefs like ‘I’m not safe’, ‘It’s dangerous to speak up’, ‘I should always be on guard’. Once the trauma is released these beliefs are seen to be false and a natural sense of strength and ability to protect ourselves returns.

Annie: So, given trauma is held in the body, then what are some of the kinds of things that the Hoffman process works through that can move the trauma out of the body?

Julia: Well, many things, but probably the most obvious is the physically cathartic work that we do in relation to the negative patterns adopted from our parents. In a very safe and supported environment there is space and time given to expression – as someone connects to their feelings, they are then able to give an energized, emotionally charged voice to the part of them that had not spoken up before.

So someone who as a child had, for example, had a consistently overbearing father, a very controlling mother or a situation that was scary or disempowering on a continuous basis is often in a kind of traumatized state – this can shift when the part of them that was shut down is allowed to speak up. The energy that was repressed and ‘socialized’ can be expressed and move out of the body through the completing of a ‘fight response’ against whatever the negative energy was that was coming towards them. So in the case of an aggressive care giver and especially in the case where there was any sort of physical violence or lack of safety in some way this is a place where repair can happen on a cellular level because the person gets to feel the capacity that they have now that they didn’t have then and now they can defend themselves. They’re able to complete what they weren’t able to do then. This is incredibly empowering and wonderful, for example, for people who have difficulty setting boundaries.

There’s not often a need in adult life to speak up from a place of aggression but we want to have access to that part so that if there is an aggressor, we are able to respond appropriately and not be hijacked by a trauma response and freeze. And there is definitely a need to set boundaries.

Annie: And this part of the process can be quite intense – is there any risk when people have had trauma that they can be re-traumatized through that part of the process?

Julia: That could only happen if the person isn’t grounded and prepared. But there is a lot of preparation before this part. We are aware of each person’s history so we know how to help them to have enough resources and to build the resiliency that they need to go into the expression.

Annie: So when you refer to resources or resiliency, can you say more about that?

Julia: Yeah. Resiliency could be defined as ‘the capacity to prepare for, recover from and adapt in the face of stress, adversity, or challenge’.  It makes all the difference because trauma is cumulative so if it’s not dealt with then it builds up – resiliency gives us the capacity to process trauma. And how much we are affected by a traumatic event directly correlates to how resilient and resourced we are. Hoffman builds resiliency in multiple ways.

One seemingly simple thing is that at Hoffman you learn to build the capacity to process emotions and be with feelings more and more. You learn how to be closer to yourself rather than push parts of yourself away. One of the reasons that this is important is because we get re-traumatized if we’re in dissociation, if we’re disconnected and just going through the motions. But if you keep building on the capacity to be able to tolerate feelings, be in your body, be with your emotions, and it’s not overwhelming, you start to be able to deal with one piece at a time, which is what allows the processing and releasing of trauma. It’s so helpful to be able to deal with bite-size pieces of feelings at a time allowing them to transform into strength and resiliency as opposed to shut down and collapse.

Annie: So it’s a very safe space and participants are resourced with various techniques to keep them grounded and present, so they’re able to deal with the trauma in manageable chunks. How do you build resiliency throughout the process?

Julia: There are too many to mention here but the major one is that a large part of the Hoffmann process is about grounding oneself in what can be called our ‘true self’, our ‘essential being’, our ‘spiritual self’. And there are multiple practices that we work with on the process that build resiliency on a spiritual level. As this experience of our spiritual self deepens, we start to realize that we are not our trauma that we are not the negative patterns – that we are magnificent beings. We have exercises where time is spent experiencing the actual felt sense of embodied qualities of our true self. And from that place, then we’re more able to deal with one piece at a time of whatever we encounter in life. That’s true resiliency.

Annie: You’ve mentioned safety quite a bit. I understand that creating a safe space or having a safe place, as a child, or as anyone that’s been in a traumatic situation is incredibly important. How does Hoffmann create this sort of safe place? Are there other things throughout the process that resource the person into a sense of safety?

Julia: Yes, the way that the group is facilitated is very much with emotional safety in mind, the group itself becomes a safe place to be. But more than anything, we invite and support people to create that safety within themselves. The Hoffmann process is ultimately a re-parenting of oneself and there are many different processes that build on that. Your inner environment becomes a safer place to be and with that comes the inner capacity and strength to deal with challenges as they arise.

Annie: You mentioned earlier PTSD, and intense symptoms that have arisen out of a single incident trauma; in what way have you seen that the process addresses these issues?

Julia: I have seen some amazing shifts for people who have come to the process with some pretty debilitating symptoms. It can often be that someone had a trauma way back in their childhood or teens that wasn’t addressed and because they didn’t experience any symptoms, there didn’t seem to be the need. Later on they have a very difficult situation, say bullying at work that they struggle with but manage to move on from and then in their 30’s they have a relationship break up, for example, and it’s like the straw and the camel – suddenly they start to experience trauma symptoms like panic attacks, chronic anxiety, a breakdown of some sort, obsessive behavior, substance abuse or other addictions take hold. It seems as if these symptoms are from the break up but it’s actually an accumulation and a lack of resources and a wearing down of resiliency that has just tipped them over.

I have seen people come to the process with various versions of this scenario and have had their lives turned around from coming to Hoffman. The healing of trauma is moving from fragmentation to wholeness and this is so much of what I see happening for people on the process. Of course, each individual case is taken into consideration and there have been times when a one on one session or two before or after the process has been needed for extra support but the transformations that I’ve seen have been a delight to witness.

Annie: Yes! And lastly, I realize that there’s so much more to learn on this topic so can you recommend some reading material for those who would like to read more about how to understand and deal with trauma?

Julia: There are some great books and also some good clips on you tube explaining different aspects of trauma. Some of my favorites are Bessel Van der Kolk – The body keeps the score, Peter Levine – Waking the Tiger and In an unspoken Voice, Babette Rothschild – The Body Remembers. And there is more information about two of the most effective treatments of trauma, Somatic Experiencing and EMDR, on my website at www.byronbaytherapy.com

What’s Next?

There a few things you can do to find out if the Process is for you:
• Take our “Is the Process for me?” self-assessment test to learn if the Process if right for you
• Read our Frequently Asked Questions for more information
• Read what our Graduates have to say about their experience before and after doing the Process
• Take advantage of this great offer and book a free 1 hour consultation with one of our professional therapists

Related Articles on our website

Advocate for men’s mental health, GQ Editor Dylan Jones raises awareness on men’s plight with mental health issues in his candid account of his personal experience of the Hoffman Process
Katy Perry talks to Vogue Magazine about her Hoffman Process experience
Dr Joan Borysenko discusses the Benefits of the Hoffman Process, the limbic brain system connection and the scientific study by the University of California
Dr. J.W. Wilson, Executive Director of the Advanced Learning Institute, Canada discusses how the Hoffman Process creates positive long-lasting changes in brain structure

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The Solution to Diffusing Victim Consciousness

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Maya Angelou

In order to live a life that is fulfilled, we need to consider the way we are utilising our ‘will’. That is, our ability to focus our attention, informed by our ‘self – awareness’. This allows us to live a life with more deliberate choice.

Locus of Control

Viewing choice from a dialectic perspective, imagine that there are two poles. One pole is where people are highly dependent on others for their own personal security. They have a sense that their life is very much controlled by external forces (my spouse, partner, children, friends, bosses, the weather, the market etc) and experience the locus of their ‘will’ as external. These people are known as ‘Field Dependent’.

The other pole of this continuum would be people who are ‘Field- Independent’. These people are more cautious in developing a positive bond with an authority (external locus). They experience their ‘will’ as an ‘internal locus’ of control and believe they are in control of everything including their own free will! The extreme of the ‘field-independent’ pole can orientate toward grandiosity and a flouting of the rules (I know a few current world leaders with this personality structure!). In fact, a position on either extreme of the continuum has a high correlation with clinically evident psychopathology.

However, research indicates that individuals who are field-dependent with an external locus of control, are more likely to have demonstrable psychopathology than individuals who are field–independent with an internal locus of control. (Witkin, Rotter and Phares ‘Locus of Control’)

Individuals with high external locus of control scores are also more likely to feel inadequate, anxious, hostile, fatigued, confused and depressed, to have less vigour and resilience. (Ryckman and Sherman ‘Relationship between Self-esteem and Internal Locus of control’ 1973 Psychological Reports 32:1106)

Hoffman Director: Volker Krohn

Choice

During the Hoffman Process we introduce the perspective of ‘choice’ to the individual. In that sense we help participants to find a more assertive locus of control within themselves. At the same time, we foster an ability to surrender to the things that are beyond personal influence, thus allowing for a more peaceful connection to themselves and others and a healthier alignment with existence.

Vindictiveness

Behavioural and emotional reactivity has its roots within the primary conditioning of our family of origin. Recognising our behaviour and understanding the formation of our emotional reactivity enables participants to develop intra-personal agency to be able to change their ‘reactivity into response’.

This requires that the unconditioned, essential Self is prepared to face and embrace the innate vindictiveness of the ‘Emotional Child’ during the Process.

Vindictiveness is developed in childhood when we feel that someone has done us harm. The need for fairness and justice is a universal need and the sense of injustice (often resulting in a sense of powerlessness) creates a need for revenge. The need in itself is not wrong, however, when we feel powerless and cannot access our own ‘will’ to change the situation, our natural fight/ flight instinct goes underground where it festers, becoming what we call ‘cold rage’. It is very difficult to move on and be present to new experiences due to the negative emotions of vindictiveness, which keep us stuck in the hurtful past. Vindictiveness keeps us stuck in ‘victim consciousness’.

Victim Consciousness

Victim consciousness engenders a perpetual ‘vicious cycle’ where we move from the experience of being the ‘victim’ (“I suffer and nobody else suffers the way I do”) to becoming the ‘perpetrator’ (“somebody has to pay for my pain”) which is an attempt to move away from the ‘victim’. This can take many forms – becoming critical, blaming, negative gossiping, vengeful thoughts, withdrawing or any way we inflict pain on the other, even if it is misplaced. Then follows the guilt of having inflicted pain so we then try to redeem ourselves by becoming the ‘rescuer’ (“I give and give and give”) which results in resentment and exhaustion, cycling us right back to ‘victim’.

The Solution

The Hoffman Process offers an alternative to this victim triangle. Throughout the Process participants learn to express their repressed feelings and learn to describe them more eloquently, fostering emotional literacy. They experience that vulnerability is in fact strength not weakness. When the victim consciousness shifts toward being vulnerable, people can accept their pain as their own suffering. Being able to name the injury for themselves and to take responsibility for their experience, they can then assert more clearly their needs. So instead of becoming the ‘perpetrator’, they become ‘assertive’ whilst remaining vulnerable. This usually diffuses a conflict situation with both parties’ sense of self intact. We can then function as a trusted person who is in a position to offer support to others, rather than ‘rescue’ and in doing so move toward a more co-operative way of interacting. And the best thing – we do not need to continue to dwell in the hurtful past. We can let it go and focus our attention on this precious moment with our creative ‘will’ free to roam.

What’s Next?

There a few things you can do to find out if the Process is for you:
• Take our “Is the Process for me?” self-assessment test to learn if the Process if right for you
• Read our Frequently Asked Questions for more information
• Read what our Graduates have to say about their experience before and after doing the Process
• Take advantage of this great offer and book a free 1 hour consultation with one of our professional therapists

Related Articles on our website

Advocate for men’s mental health, GQ Editor Dylan Jones raises awareness on men’s plight with mental health issues in his candid account of his personal experience of the Hoffman Process
Katy Perry talks to Vogue Magazine about her Hoffman Process experience
Dr Joan Borysenko discusses the Benefits of the Hoffman Process, the limbic brain system connection and the scientific study by the University of California
Dr. J.W. Wilson, Executive Director of the Advanced Learning Institute, Canada discusses how the Hoffman Process creates positive long-lasting changes in brain structure

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Transforming The Negative Love Syndrome

“Negative Love is intergenerational pain that is passed down from one generation to the
next. Everyone is guilty and no one is to blame.”
Bob Hoffman (1921-1997)

The Negative Love Syndrome and the Interpersonal Rupture

The Negative Love Syndrome is one of the main concepts of the Hoffman Process. It was Bob Hoffman’s main contribution to the human potential movement. Heinz Kohut (Self–Psychology) arrived at a similar perspective when he realised that the Self has ‘healthy’ narcissistic needs (self-love) and Daniel Stern (Developmental Psychologist) also sees the Self as a relational construct.

We are born as defenseless, innocent beings with an innate need for love and connection. As developing humans we have a multitude of needs: we need others to acknowledge what we do competently; we need assistance in situations that are beyond our competency (if there is a deficit in this area we can go into trauma reactions); we need to be able to go into adversity to people with whom we have formed a bond, without destroying the relatedness; we need a sense of belonging. When these needs are able to be met by a functional adult toward a child or developing adult, we call it, ‘Self-object functioning’.

While disjunctions occur regularly, a ‘solid’ sense of self can be established by a caregiver repairing the interpersonal ruptures, giving the developing person a sense that they can ‘survive a breakdown with a ‘Self object’. This dance between junction and disjunction, establishes a sense of agency in regards to repairing relatedness. Called ‘optimal frustration’, this inevitable frustration of needs, when repaired, creates resilience. This ability to repair requires empathic attunement from the caregiver to the child, in order to detect the disjunction.

Pseudo-love vs Unconditional Love

The Negative Love Syndrome explains the existential abandonment wound experienced in childhood. When our caregivers are not able to give ‘unconditional love’, the egocentricity of the child, who lacks the cognitive ability to differentiate self from other, unconsciously takes on the blame for this disjunction, developing a ‘core shame belief’ that there is something inherently wrong with them. Driven by this core deficiency, the developing Self abandons the connection to their essential lovability (what Hoffman calls Essence) to establish a ‘pseudo-love connection’ with the caregiver by adopting their behavioural patterns, attitudes and moods. These adaptations become compulsive dysfunctional behaviours, driven by the fear in the ‘emotional child’ of losing this pseudo-love connection and therefore having their needs unmet.

The unmet needs in the child result in a justifiable frustration and anger, which when unexpressed, becomes a ‘cold rage’ that goes ‘underground’ and is often manifested in a vindictive mirroring of dysfunctional behaviour back to the parents. This vindictiveness of the ‘emotional child’ continues to drive the repetitive compulsion of bad behaviour.

Negative Love Syndrome Explained…

The Hoffman Process is the most powerful and transformational experience I have ever undertaken. It does require courage and commitment to fully participate. The change that is available is beyond what I could have ever imagined.
Bruce, 2016

The Transformational Power of Empathic Attunement

The Hoffman Process addresses the Negative Love Syndrome through various processes that deal with the adapted patterns, the unexpressed anger and the core shame – with empathic attunement being central to the therapeutic alliance.

We begin with a cognitive behavioural inquiry, underpinned by psycho-dynamic theory, by identifying the adopted patterns and tracing the patterns back to the family of origin, building awareness and therefore agency over the compulsivity of the patterns.

Through the expressive work of the Process we begin to shift the way anger was socialised in the family system. The Emotional Child can express its repressed need for power, justice, authenticity, freedom and love and in doing so re-embraces its instinctual energy. This anger work is unique in its specific focus on the adopted patterns which encourages participants to take responsibility for their behaviours. It moves the ‘locus of control’ from the external authority of the family of origin toward the autonomy of the individual. The result of this cathartic work is a possible retrieval of and reconnection to a ‘me-consciousness’ that is lovable.

Healing Through Attuned Facilitation and the Benevolent Witnessing of the Group

The sharing of toxic shame secrets and core-shame beliefs establishes an environment of benevolent witnessing in which participants are able to see the ‘face of humanity ‘in one another. This deep sense of compassion informs the teaching style of the facilitation team, providing for many participants a corrective, healing experience akin to ‘process-oriented’ therapy.

As facilitators we are able to describe the phenomenological context of the ‘experiencing’ of the participant. This can enable the facilitator to give inter-subjective reflection to the participant that is grounded in describable ‘reality’, creating clarity for the participant to locate his/her own subjective interpretation. This can diminish the inherent power differential within the teacher-client relationship. In that sense we would facilitate rather than teach. The facilitator can function more as a guide through the Process, rather than a potentially dangerous authority.

Through ‘vicarious introspection’, facilitators establishes how a participant’s patterns are functioning as compensations for the unfulfilled needs of the Self.Not only the recognition of patterns and the reflection of these are helpful to the client but also the motivation generating the patterns, for example, ‘Jim’ might be a pleaser in order to make it safe, while ‘Sue’ might please in order to create peace, or ‘Leo’ pleases in order to become successful. Being able to recognise the underlying motivation and to give kind reflection of these motivations to participants, will create higher levels of empathic attunement. This ability to be empathically present to the client is one of the most healing elements of the Process.

What’s Next?

There a few things you can do to find out if the Process is for you:
• Take our “Is the Process for me?” self-assessment test to learn if the Process if right for you
• Read our Frequently Asked Questions for more information
• Read what our Graduates have to say about their experience before and after doing the Process
• Take advantage of this great offer and book a free 1 hour consultation with one of our professional therapists

Related Articles on our website

Advocate for men’s mental health, GQ Editor Dylan Jones raises awareness on men’s plight with mental health issues in his candid account of his personal experience of the Hoffman Process
Katy Perry talks to Vogue Magazine about her Hoffman Process experience
Dr Joan Borysenko discusses the Benefits of the Hoffman Process, the limbic brain system connection and the scientific study by the University of California
Dr. J.W. Wilson, Executive Director of the Advanced Learning Institute, Canada discusses how the Hoffman Process creates positive long-lasting changes in brain structure

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Recycling with Amanda Ahern: A Path to Self Compassion

“In my many interactions with people in my many travels and trainings, I noticed a great desire for change in myself and many fellow travellers. This inspired me to learn more, practise more and create more….more opportunities to make change easier and more accessible for anyone who wants to.”
Amanda Ahern, Hoffman Process Senior Facilitator.

When Annie, our latest wonderful team member and Newsletter coordinator asked me to write a BLOG for Hoffman Process monthly newsletter, I immediately thought about RECYCLING….especially as it’s my favorite part of the Process where the Cycle of Transformation swings into action with new behaviour.

New behaviour doesn’t mean that you have to reject the old parts of yourself in order to forge a new path in your life. In fact just the opposite is true.

When you come to the point of deciding that you have had enough of
1. an old behaviour that doesn’t work anymore
2. a compulsive pattern that leads to self destructive outcomes
3. or you really want to open up to some new way of being with yourself and others
4. or perhaps you are in need of a perceptual shift to get out of rut you are in
then Recycling is the perfect tool to use.

Want to know a secret? I hate the word ‘Tool’…. To me it implies hard labour, hammering away and sweating a lot, getting blisters and a bad back!
But I do find that when I enjoy playing with and practicing techniques that make me feel good then I want to keep on doing it. Riding on the profound work your Process, the starting point to deep and lasting behavioral change post process is ‘self compassion’.

The key to happiness is understanding that suffering is caused by resisting pain.
Kristin Neff, one of the greatest proponents of self compassion

The way to get out of pain is to accept that your compulsive pattern is causing yourself and…. therefore others… pain. Unfortunately, our first impulse when we feel pain is to move away from it. But actually to be able to turn those pesky patterns around, the ones causing the pain we are in…we need to feel the pain it is causing …..and to dig a little deeper and feel the underlying canker that is driving the behaviour…..counterintuitive right?

When you are able to stop and feel it… you are treating yourself with compassion and are already on the path of Recycling…

The next step is to appreciate yourself for having the courage to look at yourself and actually feel the pain, and see the consequences of the particular behaviour not only for yourself, but others in your life. That means you are taking a very high level of responsibility for yourself and what you are generating in your life.

And let’s face it, isn’t it so much kinder and generous to treat yourself in this way? It takes a lot less energy than staying in the pattern and dealing with the stress, drama and fallout of compulsive patterned behaviour.

If you can go straight to compassion and understanding, without condemnation, for yourself first, then others in your life who may be casualties of the drama, then the driving force of whatever has held you in its’ thrall will dissipate significantly.

Even as I sit at my desk writing this BLOG I feel calmer and more open just thinking about people generating more kindness and compassion in their lives. Just that thought has caused my body to want to open up and inhale more deeply…to let in more of that life.

Whenever you feel agitated or in the grip of something just remember to pause, take a deep breath, turn and face that discomfort, the pain, the sheer annoying torture of whatever it is that’s bothering you and meet it with tenderness and kindness…. then it will begin to change.

When you refuse to be in an adversarial relationship with yourself about anything at all then actually that is real Recycling… all day everyday…

The challenge is to sustain that state of being in love with who and what you really are, which is to remember you are of the Light, and all parts of you are in the Light. You are LOVE. You are LOVING. And yes you are LOVABLE.

What’s Next?

There a few things you can do to find out if the Process is for you:
• Take our “Is the Process for me?” self-assessment test to learn if the Process if right for you
• Read our Frequently Asked Questions for more information
• Read what our Graduates have to say about their experience before and after doing the Process
• Take advantage of this great offer and book a free 1 hour consultation with one of our professional therapists

Related Articles on our website

Advocate for men’s mental health, GQ Editor Dylan Jones raises awareness on men’s plight with mental health issues in his candid account of his personal experience of the Hoffman Process
Katy Perry talks to Vogue Magazine about her Hoffman Process experience
Dr Joan Borysenko discusses the Benefits of the Hoffman Process, the limbic brain system connection and the scientific study by the University of California
Dr. J.W. Wilson, Executive Director of the Advanced Learning Institute, Canada discusses how the Hoffman Process creates positive long-lasting changes in brain structure

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A Pilgrimage from Depression to Recovery

“To understand your intellect, your emotional capacity and your physical self – a whole person is connected with their Spiritual Centre, which they access through the work of the Process. From that place – the Spiritual Centre – there’s not much room for depression.”
Lee Lipsenthal, M.D., ABHM1, Hoffman Process Graduate

What is Depression?

Most people have felt sad or depressed at times. Feeling mildly depressed can be a normal reaction to loss, life’s struggles or an injured self-esteem. But when feelings of intense sadness, including feeling helpless, hopeless, and worthless last for many days or weeks and keep you from functioning normally, your emotional state may be something more than sadness.

When we repress our emotions and have a sense that we have no choice about our way of being, this is depression.

How does the the Hoffman Process assist on the road from Depression to recovery?

The Hoffman Process helps participants to understand and heal their underlying emotional issues like depression and anxiety, which have been acquired within their ‘family of origin’ during their formative years. Participants learn to become grounded in their own spiritual centre from where they can find resolution with their own ‘existential dilemmas’. This builds higher levels of personal resilience to deal with the normal ups and downs of life.

The Hoffman Process is the most powerful and transformational experience I have ever undertaken. It does require courage and commitment to fully participate. The change that is available is beyond what I could have ever imagined.
Bruce, 2016

What are the Symptoms of Depression?

Every human being on the planet is faced with the same fundamental existential dilemmas: birth and death, freedom & isolation vs belonging & meaninglessness. If we never take the time to reflect on these questions and find a personal resolution with them, they will inevitably impact upon our sense of self and our primary relationships. This is because we are unable to bring the ‘presence’ of our being to another human if we have not truly encountered our own being. This commonly leads to deterioration in our relationships, as we do not know how to get our own needs met or to be able to meet the needs of our partner or intimates.

Many people seek help in this instance. If we still manage to avoid ourselves, this lack of ‘presence’ will impact further in our ability to form meaningful connectedness with our extended family and friends. We will lack resilience to meet the interpersonal demands at work, compensating our lack of inner resolve and control with maybe bullying others or becoming a target of bullying, aggravating unnecessary levels of stress which further destabilizes and jeopardizes us.

Such vicious cycles can lead to a sense that our job is at risk and stimulates survival anxiety. The amount of stress hormones that are released if such situations persist over an extended period of time, will lead to the repression of our immune system and make us more prone to ill health further acerbating the cycle of depression.

Our weakened organism cannot produce enough serotonin and we can move into clinical depression. Often people seek medication to alleviate these unbearable feelings but medication without personal intervention does not lead to resolution. Medication without conversation can just lead to further repression of the underlying causes. To break this cycle in the treatment of depression, it is essential is to address the underlying existential and emotional issues, as well as to build a sense of inner understanding and awareness that can enable us to respond to external stressors.

Depression also occurs when we have learnt to habitually repress certain emotional states like ‘anger’ and ‘grief or sadness’. Depending upon how these emotions were socialized within our families and communities they usually camouflage the internal toxic shame beliefs that we hold about our selves, like unlovability, inadequacy, self-invalidation, self-criticism, etc.

How Do I Know If I Have the Symptoms of Depression?

According to the DSM-5, a manual used to diagnose mental disorders, depression occurs when you have at least five of the following symptoms at the same time:

  1. A depressed mood during most of the day, particularly in the morning
  2. Fatigue or loss of energy almost every day
  3. Feelings of worthlessness or guilt almost every day
  4. Impaired concentration, indecisiveness
  5. Insomnia (inability to sleep) or hypersomnia (excessive sleeping) almost every day
  6. Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in almost all activities nearly every day
  7. Recurring thoughts of death or suicide (not just fearing death)
  8. A sense of restlessness or being slowed down
  9. Significant weight loss or weight gain

Independent Scientific Research shows that The Hoffman Process is the most effective treatment for Depression

The HP not only produces significant lasting reductions in negative affect i.e. depression, anxiety, hostility, interpersonal over-sensitivity and obsessive-compulsive symptoms – but also engenders significant, lasting, increases in positive affect i.e. emotional intelligence, spirituality, mindfulness, forgiveness and empathy, along with increases in physical energy and vitality.

These changes were demonstrated in a University of California’s Study (Levenson et al., 2006). This rigorous study, with a one-year follow-up, showed that most of the gains that participants made during the Process were sustained over the next year, in comparison with the control group. Depression practically disappeared a week after the HP and remained low after a year, with only a 17% relapse rate, while, for example, CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy) has shown a relapse rate of 30.8% and antidepressant medication alone 76.2% after one year (Hollon et al., 2005). These outstanding effects on depression were mediated by increases in forgiveness and spirituality.”

The following is a summary of a conversation on depression between Dr. Bill McCleod, BA,MDBS,DPM, FAPA.*,FRANZCP,*FRCPsych,*FRACP(*retd)Dip App.Chem and Volker Krohn, director of the Hoffman Centre Australia.

Like many terms in the Psychiatric lexicon, depression is a term drawn from another discipline, in this case morphology, where the word literally means “a small hollow in the ground”. Current dictionary definitions of depression include ‘pressed or forced down’, ‘brought low, oppressed’ and ‘lowered in position’. Confusion arises when the word depression is used interchangeably with emotions such as shame, fear, anger, anxiety, sadness or rage. It is important to distinguish sadness at the death of a loved one, which needs to be experienced and depression.

Anti-depressives prescribed to suppress grief may even result in a later depression. Carl Jung, the famous Psychiatrist and author, made the comment ʻthat all mental illness which occurs after the age of 35, has as itʼs basis, unresolved spiritual or existential questionsʼ, ie: “who am I?” and issues such as meaninglessness, freedom and death.

Most theorists now believe that a clear demarcation, can and needs to be made between the many different types and forms of depression. If we don’t deal with what is present in our lives – spiritual; existential; parental; emotional; interpersonal or organisational issues – there may be a slide into a non self-correcting biochemical depression which requires chemical assistance to lift us out of it.

Depression is not a feeling but occurs as a consequence of the denial and continued repression of feelings. In some instances there is a genetic predisposition to depression, but even with such a genetic ʻbentʼ depression is not inevitable.

Such carriers are more prone to depressive illness when life is particularly difficult. Failure to resolve ʻdenied feelingsʼ, contributes to an increasing inability to form intimate relationships. This further contributes to a spiral of alienation and leads to problems in the ability to interact or connect with other groups in the larger community. At the same time despair, apathy and resignation intensify and the individual feels totally useless, unworthy and unlovable.

Failure to deal with these forms of depression will lead to an increase in the biochemical components of the disorder and severe depressive illnesses which can no longer be treated by ʻtalking-throughʼ modalities. In addition, there are many viral and other illnesses, which produce and contribute to, depressive states and a physical disability can be another significant contributing factor.

Long periods of grief, anxiety, stress, illness etc. can affect the immune system leading to a greater susceptibility to viral infections or other illnesses, which may then contribute to that person becoming actually ʻclinically depressedʼ.

Most of these different forms of depression are best treated with verbal forms of therapy to address the underlying causes of the depression. However, if the existential or interpersonal issues are not addressed or healed, then verbal therapies cease to be affective. Indeed, there are many forms of severe depression in which pharmacological intervention is essential. Medication can contain the severity of depression, but it will continue the repression of the feeling function and not afford any understanding or insight into the underlying causes.

Medication needs to coincide with a therapeutic conversation. It has been predicted that within 10 to 15 years, depression in one form or another, will reach major epidemic proportions on our planet. The forms of depression which are already being seen, occurs regardless of religion, lifestyle, standard of living or race. No comprehensive explanation has been so far discovered. Needless to say, most of these depressive forms, from the so called mild to moderate, respond best to either verbal psychotherapy or cognitive behavioural psychotherapy.

In my experience, the Hoffman Quadrinity Process has produced the most outstanding results in those who have been suffering breakdowns in interpersonal relationships or who face crisis in their spiritual or existential life. The Process supplies a comprehensive, broad based structure for these personal dilemmas to be worked through and understood experientially. Because the Hoffman Process allows participants to re-experience and fully express, in a very safe framework, their denied and defended “negative feelings”, they are able to establish a new level of vitality and awareness within the more integrated Self.

At the same time many people who are on medication for depression have improved dramatically after the Hoffman Process. The results of an extensive university research program that was undertaken at the University of California at Irvine, has shown statistically, the dramatic changes in the health and wellbeing of Hoffman Process participants. Not only does research show that depressive states will be diminished and resolved by the Hoffman Process but also that the positive, human feelings of joy, love and compassion are greatly enhanced.

Dr Bill McLeod is a Psychiatrist in private practice. He was formerly the Chairman of Psychiatry at the University of Auckland and then Superintendent of Royal Park Psychiatric Hospital. He was also Chairman of the Federal Board of Examiners of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists. He has written extensively on his work with clinical Depression and Schizophrenia.

Billʼs interests have been in both the traditional and humanistic aspects of human nature. He has made a profound personal enquiry in his own life and has been instrumental, along with his wife Maggie in influencing all the members of his immediate family, to participate in the HQP. He was a personal friend of Bob Hoffman and is a friend of Volker Krohn. Bill assisted both these men in establishing the Quadrinity Process here in Australia. Currently, Bill is a member of the Advisory Board of the Hoffman Institute International.

What’s Next?

There a few things you can do to find out if the Process is for you:
• Take our “Is the Process for me?” self-assessment test to learn if the Process if right for you
• Read our Frequently Asked Questions for more information
• Read what our Graduates have to say about their experience before and after doing the Process
• Take advantage of this great offer and book a free 1 hour consultation with one of our professional therapists

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Dr. J.W. Wilson, Executive Director of the Advanced Learning Institute, Canada discusses how the Hoffman Process creates positive long-lasting changes in brain structure