Welcome to The Center for Human Re-emergence
Jeffrey Von Glahn, Ph. D., Director.
This website serves as a source of information for my view of psychotherapy, which I think of as the proces of "re-emerging" from the effects of hurtful/traumatic events. This process of re-emergence allows you to regain contact with those parts of yourself that made you feel the full extent of your humanness and that you were forced to struggle to hang on to becaue of the emotional pain they caused. Despite your best efforts, you had no choice; you had to stop trying to make peace with them and let go of these feelings, behaviors, and thoughts that seemed to have a "life" of their own and disrupted your life when you least expected it.
Based on 40+ years of experience, I am convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that there is in the human nervous system a healing process for these kinds of psychological "injuries," just as there is
one for physical injuries/illnesses. I call this process therapeutic catharsis, and I have been developing it ever since I first wrote about it in my doctoral disssertation from The Union Insititute many years ago. The
therapist's role in this natural proces is simply that of a mid-wife; i.e., someone who creates the conditions for such a process: to operate. In this view of the therapist's role, that person has one task that is more important than any other to fully support whatever the client is talking about and seems to be experiencing - even if she doesn't understand why the client is talking about what he is talking about! This cathartic healing process takes place in the client. The information about how the client needs to heal is inside that person. The client needs all of the support the therapist can provide for him to be able to eventually dig it out. I always follow the client's lead and his sense of what he needs to talk about. I treat each person as a unique individual and I DO NOT follow a pre-set plan for what a therapist is supposed to do or a client is supposed to experience.
This view of catharsis is a fundamental re-conceptualization of how it has been
historically understood. What separates it from all other formulations
of catharsis is the unforced
activation of the client's emotional experiencing. That is, a client's emotional experiencing spontaneously (without conscious intent) emerges coincident with him receiving sufficient support for his experiencing. Here's a typical example. A client voluntarily starts to talk about a recent event. His initial focus is on the factual details and who said and did what. If he receives sufficient support from the therapist for what he is experiencing, he starts to focus on how he has been affected emotionally. And with continuing support, his experiencing reaches an emotional peak and spontaneously transitions to a healing phase. With clients who have a functioning core to their personality and have not experienced a great number of deeply hurtful events, a profound and lasting change can occur in a minute or two.
Here's a more technical description of therapeutic catharsis. It has two parts. The first is the
pre-therapeutic phase and the second is the therapeutic part. It's a sympathetic (S) autonomic nervous system, or flight or fight, response followed by a parasympathetic
(P) ANS response. The first phase is caused by the activated residual
hurt from traumatic events that exists in a "frozen" state as an imprint
in the brain. When the imprint is activated, the result is heightened
emotional experiencing, which represents how the person
was affected at the time of the original event. With sufficient support
for the client's experiencing, the S phase reaches a peak of intensity
and spontaneously transitions to the P (healing) phase. At that point,
there are two immediate and simultaneous changes. One is that all
heightened physiological reactions almost instantly drop to normal
levels and the S phase manifestations of how the person has been hurt
are replaced by healing reactions. The primary healing reactions are
indignation (usually thought of as "anger) over objectively unfair
treatment and crying over more more hurtful events. It is possible to experience a dramatic and lasting change in just a minute or two through either one of these experiences. This is most likely to happen in this short of a time with someone who has not experienced ongoing severe emotional neglect and/or a number of traumatic events.
There is a widspread
apprehension in the field of psychotherapy over "re-traumatization." I am unable to find a definition of this term. It seems to mean that if a person becomes too
emotionally upset that he is being "re-hurt." If this is true, it is based on a profound misunderstanding of catharsis and it is preventing thousands of clients a day from a dramatic healing experience. With the unforced
activation of emotional experiencing, the client is not being "re-hurt," despite what an observer might conclude. The forced activation of emotional experiencing, which is not therapeutic, usually occurs outside of therapy when an unexpected event triggers to much unresolved hurt.
Individual Sessions: I highly recommend two hour sessions. With most clients, the most therapeutic part is between the 30 and 90 minute marks.
Consultation; I offer consultation on individual cases and on instruction in the use of therapeutic catharsis.
See About Us for a list of my publications.