What is Functional Analysis? 

A Self Oriented Depth Body Psychotherapy


Functional analysis developed from the later stages of Wilhelm Reich’s pioneering work. The most important of his discoveries is the energetic qualities of the life force. There is a difference between being dead and being alive. That difference is the result of the pulsation of the life force. In health, the life force flows outward to the periphery and back in again to the center in an open coherent movement. Disease is understood as a pulsatory disturbance of the life force. The two parts of this coordinated energetic flow Reich called expansion and contraction. We call this movement the outstroke and the instroke of the pulsation.

Difficulties with an energetic model

We have taken Reich’s energetic concepts as the basis for our method. The energetic model in psychotherapy has had problems over the years for two reasons. The first reason is that initially, Reich’s energy concepts were unacceptable to most therapists and scientists because they were deemed unscientific. But over the last few years, there is a growing body of research in biology and physics, that while not proving a life force at work, the results are supportive of Reich’s basic energetic concepts. The second reason for problems with the energetic model is that within body psychotherapy the energetic model has been misunderstood. A view has developed that to work energetically is to over excite the organism and push for strong physical movements and emotional expressions. This is the so-called expansion phase of the pulsation, the movement outward. While a small part of energetic work will possibly include emotional expression, a more nuanced understanding of energetic process has revealed that it is possible to work energetically both physically and verbally without expression and discharge. Through a deeper understanding of energetics, in Functional Analysis we have shifted the emphasis from self-expression to self-experience, from the relationship between self and other to the relationship to one’s self.

 From moving out to moving in

This change of emphasis is one of the unique aspects of FA. Observe to the traditional understanding of energetic work as expression and discharge we have developed effective techniques to work not with the peripheral movement of the life force, but with mobilizing the coherence creating movement of the instroke. The result of this approach has lead to a number of important consequences. For example, through the mobilization of the instroke, we see the spontaneous development of borders. Borders develop where there were none before and previously weak borders are strengthened. The same is true in the area of the self. There is a natural self-organizing development that arises whereby repressed or poorly developed self-aspects are fulfilled and, especially in early disturbance where parts of the self were never allowed to grow, we see the spontaneous emergence of new aspects of the self. Self-trust and security increases which then allows for a further and easier movement outward to the world. By first moving inward it is then easier and more satisfying to move outward. These movements are a representation of the pulsatory movement in and out, as well as the representation of the movement from the potential to the actual.

 The return to the self

This leads us to another unique aspect of the FA – our emphasis on the self to self relationship. – which is the earliest and most important relationship. In FA we work on the theme of relationships by first focusing on the self to self relationship. Once the person has re-organized her relationship to her self, she can then re-organize her relationships to all others. Not surprisingly, the self to self emphasis in FA also redefines the patient/therapist relationship.

 Avoiding defenses

Another unique aspect of FA is our approach to resistances and blocks. Instead of engaging defenses, we look to avoid them. Because of the non-invasive verbal and physical techniques, we can slip below the defenses systematically to activate the potential within, with out needing to break or dissolve defenses or to work through personal history or trauma. Both our verbal and physical techniques are based on the principle of going below the defenses to the level before the creation of the problem itself.

The fole of connective tisue in resistances

We are also unique in our understanding of the role of connective tissue in terms of the somatic aspect of disturbances. The classical Reichian position and the general somatic understanding is that stress is registered in the skeletal musculature. Recent biophysical research has revealed the primacy of the role of connective tissue in processing and holding stress. Stress and soft tissue memory is not held in the neuro-muscular system, but in the connective tissue system. Research has also revealed its primary role in carrying the bio-energies and homones throughout the body. Bio-electricity, bio-magnetism, bio-lumination, bio-acoustic etc. are all transmitted throughout the body, including the brain, in the network system of connective tissue. As a result, our gentle, non-invasive, physical release technique works with the bio-energetic properties of connective tissue releasing stress and shock in a safe and integrative way. Trauma without the drama.

 The functional level

Functional Analysis is the meeting point between psyche and soma. At this point, the differences between psyche and soma disappear. They merge into a unique state of simple functioning whereby it is possible to work with both the psyche and soma simultaneously. Functional Analysis is not psychosomatic work which is interested in the relationship between psyche and soma. Functional Analysis is interested in the unified functioning of the organism and the psyche’s and soma’s relationship to this unified state. All behaviours symptoms, diseases and disorders reveal themselves in the psychosomatic realm. But the origins of these disturbances lie within the psyche’s and soma’s relationship to the deeper, disturbed functional level.

Verbally, through focusing words, we guide the cognition to a deeper consciousness to enter into a clear experience of one’s self, the endo self. We then use this clarified self to self relationship as the basis upon which to build all our relationships with others.

Somatically, we do the same. By gentle touch, we mobilize the bio-energetic properties of the connective tissue to bring the patient deep within to meet himself, his essential endo-psychic self, and then, with this secure knowledge, he can move safely out into the world again.

The body and mind always work together – in both health and in illness. In Functional Analysis, through both touch and words, we contact and explore that profound center in each of us where all our emotions, thoughts, dreams and movements flow together and from which all our life experiences spring.