Glossary of Psychological Terms


In somatic psychotherapy, resourcing refers to actions or inner experiences that evoke ease, comfort, confidence or any positive state.

Resourcing is used to create a feeling of safety and to invite your nervous system back into balance. When working with strong feelings or states, I guide you to alternate between what may feel uncomfortable and what feels soothing and restorative. Once you have the direct experience invoking these desirable states, these experiences become more easily accessible any time you need them.

Examples of internal resources:

the rhythm of your breath

a mental image of a dear friend's face

meditation or mindfulness practice

a memory of an accomplishment

the feeling of a strong conviction

Some external resources:

contact with loved ones or pets

therapy or support groups

time in nature

physical activity such as walking, hiking, dancing, sports, etc.

physical nourishment (food, baths, warmth, sensual or sexual pleasure)

You can make your own list!

Supporting the Defense

In some therapy paradigms, "defenses" have a negative connotation. In Hakomi, we see "defenses" as protective actions that helped us survive, viewing them in the context in which they were established, often in childhood and/or in the face of trauma. We bring respect, acceptance and curiosity to what were surely necesssary adaptations to difficult circumstances. While we honor the initial intelligence behind these adaptive strategies, we also recognize how they become over generalized and outlive their usefulness for us as adults. The beliefs and behaviors limit us from the fullness of our experience and syphon off energy.

In Hakomi, the therapist can actively "take over" a physical pattern or action (e.g. helping you hold your shoulders up or helping you hide) or interruption of a movement (e.g. supporting you in holding back from kicking or pushing). We also "take over" words that express a limiting belief ("I shouldn't...") Often, when we join with and support the defense, a shift happens and energy can move again where it was stuck, making room for fresh and flexible choices.

Core Material

"Core material is composed of memories, images, beliefs, neural patterns and deeply held emotional dispositions. It shapes the styles, habits, behaviors, perceptions and attitudes that define us as individuals. Typically, it exerts its influence unconsciously, by organizing our responses to the major themes of life: safety, belonging, support, power, freedom, control, responsibility, love, appreciation, sexuality, spirituality, etc. Some of this material supports our being who we wish to be, while some of it, learned in response to acute and chronic stress, continues to limit us. Hakomi allows the client to distinguish between the two, and to willingly change material that restricts his or her wholeness." (excerpted from the Hakomi Institue website)


Experiments are opportunities to intentionally study present moment experience in order to reveal the deeper meaning or unconscious root. Experiments sometimes arise naturally in the therapy process, or we may intentionally design them in order to evoke experience for the sake of deeper understanding. For example, in couples therapy, one partner might make an evocative statement (I need you) or do a behavior (look away) so that the other partner can track their reaction in mindfulness.

Cycles of Conflict

The mutually-reinforcing pattern, or dance, of partners in a couple, as they attempt to get met their needs for closeness and security, often ineffectively. These cycles are based on the "interlock" between each individual's vulnerabilities, or raw spots.

Raw spots

"a hypersensitivity formed by moments in a person's past or current relationships when an attachment need has been repeatedly neglected, ignored or dismissed, resulting in a person's feeling...emotionally deprived or deserted." We all have "at least one exquisite sensitivity-- raw spot in our emotional skin--that is tender to the touch, easily rubbed, and deeply painful. When this raw spot gets abraded, it can bleed all over our relationship. We lose our emotional balance..." (from Hold Me Tight, by Sue Johnson, pg. 98)

Attachment Theory

An increasing respected and compelling view best articulated by John Bowlby in the 1940's onward. Based on his own observations of children, and the ideas of Charles Darwin, Bowlby concluded that "keeping precious others close is a brilliant survival technique wired in by evolution...Bowlby talked about 'effective dependency' and how being able, from the 'the cradle to the grave,' to turn to others for emotional support is a sign and source of strength." (Quote from Sue Johnson, Hold me Tight)