Emotional Release Therapy
The Emotional Release Therapy at the Preda Center in Olongapo City Philippines.
Preda Foundation was set up in 1974 as a therapeutic healing center for young people with emotional and family problems compounded by sexual exploitation or abuse . It is a great help for traumatized sexually abused girls. It is also helping youth severely abused and traumatized by being imprisoned in subhuman conditions in Philippine jails with adult criminals, murderers and rapists.
Emotional release Therapy is the core of Preda¹s Psychotherapeutic practice. It divides basic human needs into two categories. The first covers physiological or biological needs that are required on a continuous basis to sustain human life, such as food and shelter. The second category includes psychological, mental and spiritual needs. These represent the social dimension of the human being. When either of these needs is denied to a person, they undergo a Œtraumatic experience of pain¹. The manifestation of this pain is contingent on how the person is conditioned. If a child feels pain, her natural reaction is to cry. If the parents comfort the child then her response to pain, the crying, is positively reinforced. However if the child cries and does not receive any succor or is punished then she will withdraw into herself. Society continues to encourage the suppression of Œinappropriate¹ emotions. This is typified by the popular credo that Œboys don¹t cry.¹ The negative reinforcement of the child¹s crying leads her to repress her pain.
The emotional release therapy is based on Primal Theory , this argues that the repression of pain does not allow the child to come to terms with it. Inevitably, this maladaptive resolution of traumatic issues may develop into a pattern, through which the child deals with difficult situations. As the number of repressed memories grows it may develop into a ³pool of primal pain.² Such a practice causes a build up of tension and anxiety in a person. ³Tension resides within the personality and indicates a split in the level consciousness. The reality of pain is pushed onto one level, but the daily realities with the presence of tension is on another level.² This practice may result in a number of psychosomatic disorders, like migraines, ulcers and hypertension.
The various coping strategies developed by these people reflect the repression of their pain. Greater pressure may continue to build, leading to an increase in tension. On the other hand, the person may withdraw from situations, which may be potentially uncomfortable. A girl who may have been emotionally neglected as a child will typically be wary or even retreat from anyone who is openly affectionate with her. Such a relationship would cause the resurfacing of memories that the person is ill equipped to deal with. These coping strategies are not panaceas and invariably a situation will arise which the person cannot handle effectively. In these scenarios, their pain will surface and her inability to deal with it may cause acute anxiety. Traditional techniques of repression merely compound the problem further. When it fails to sustain her, she may seek an immediate form of relief. This immediate relief may in itself be a reflection of the person¹s deprivation of need. An example of this would be a young person, denied of parental affection growing up, using drugs to relieve the tension and pain. Table 1.1 illustrates the process undertaken in Emotional release Therapy. Emotional Release Therapy
The practical application of emotional release or feeling therapy, or emotional expression therapy, looks beyond the coping strategies and tackle the underlying pain. It maintains that ignoring the pain does not make it go away. In order to exorcise it primal therapists argue that it must be expressed in a supportive atmosphere. The vital preparation is through affirmation therapy whereby a client is helped to strengthen her self appreciation and esteem by being made to fell accepted, trusted,understood and a person of value within the therapeutic community . The client feels empowered and supported and is able to face the challenge of the rising emotions of pain as memories are renewed of past hardships, suffering, abuse, or neglect. These have to be allowed to percolate to the surface of consciousness and bubble out in emotional expression, such as crying, weeping, screaming in pain, pounding the floor or walls as if retaliating against her abuser. In other words the ‘fighting back’, that was impossible at the time of the abuse or trauma is now possible. The helplessness and the feelings of being overpowered is being overcome and a sense of empowerment is emerging. These are all indications that the past experience is being re-experienced or relived in a way that releases the client form the imprisonment of the past . The pain is being relived but the client is retaliating as she relives it. She is coping and venting her true feelings which is a vital healing process. This experience of descending into the past and re-experiencing the painful events of abuse or rejection can reach deeper levels and the client can become oblivious of the present and pass into the experience of the past. It is this reliving the past traumatic experience in a trusting and supportive environment with the therapists that is a healing process . The tension is released from being bottled up for years . In time, after many such sessions , each client has different needs and different number of sessions personality change occurs . The open personality and strong character emerges .
EXPERIENCING PAIN AS HEALING
Only when it is experienced released and relieved does the person become whole again. Then can the personality develop and the person is free to move on and seek to redress the imbalance in their lives. The therapeutic approach tries to relate the tension to the instigating factor. Mediums of expression, such as crying or screaming, may be used to achieve this. When ³the breach into the pool of pain is made a flood of memories and tears follow through.² In order for this unveiling of the underlying trauma to be therapeutic, it is essential that it be carried out in an atmosphere of acceptance, trust, honesty and love.
The skills of the therapist is to understand the the client ,the cultural,family and emotional background to the child. A knowledge of the case study is essential. The skills are then used to evoke the buried and hidden memories and allows them to surface without fear or additional trauma but to allow the natural flow of feelings to take place.
Some concerned people not familiar with the principles behind ‘Feeling therapy’ are at times anxious and apprehensive that the client will have some additional “emotional or mental Breakdown” .In reality the therapy is releasing the stress and tension, pain and anguish , fear and anger built up over years .It is a release and a cure of neurosis.
As part of its therapeutic intervention, Preda uses a level system to determine the level of success achieved by the client.
Level 1 is based on deprogramming and the adjustment of the girl to the community life in the Center. This involves intensive psychotherapy and a personal development program, thus leading to greater self-awareness.
Level 2 focuses specifically on the inculcation of healthy attitudes and practices. This is attained through the creation of positive personal relationships and a renewal of faith.
Level 3 seeks to provide practical application for the growth that the girl has experienced. This may involve leadership training, as well as her reintroduction into schooling or the employment market.
Finally, Level 4 is based on after care and follow up, helping to maintain and further enhance the growth experienced.
It has been estimated by Preda¹s therapists that this approach has an extremely high success rate, between 70% to 75%. However while Emotional Release Therapy is the major component in recovery and is also contingent on other interventions, such as family reconciliation, occupational therapy, moral value reorientation, character building and life skills training.
Success is also dependent on a careful preparation and vetting process before a client starts emotional release therapy. A great deal of groundwork must be undertaken to ensure that the person is capable of beginning the therapy. The trust, friendship and peer group support are very important , it give her a sense of empowerment and courage to face the realities of the bast that a re buried within here past past experience but rising to the surface. Where a client feels that she is unable to face the trauma of confronting her memories, alternative therapeutic methods are used in the meantime.