Functional Analysis was developed from the later stages of Wilhelm Reich’s pioneering work. Reich’s most important discovery is the energetic qualities of the life force.
In health, the life force pulsates outward to the periphery and back in again to the centre in an open coherent movement. Disease is understood as a pulsatory disturbance of the life force. Reich called the two parts of this coordinated energetic flow: expansion and contraction.
We call this movement the “outstroke” and the “instroke” of the pulsation.
We have taken Reich’s energetic concepts as the basis for our method. Reich’s 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. Over the last few years, there is a growing body of research in biology and physics, that are supportive of Reich’s basic energetic concepts. The other 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 overexcite the organism and push for strong physical movements and emotional expressions.
The instroke: from moving out to moving in
Through a deeper understanding of energetics, in Functional Analysis we have shifted the emphasis from self-expression to self-experience and from the relationship between self and other to the relationship to one’s self. We have developed effective techniques to work not with the peripheral movement of the life force, but with mobilising the coherence creating movement of the instroke. The result of this approach has led to a number of important consequences. For example, through the mobilisation 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-organising development that arises, whereby repressed or poorly developed self-aspects are fulfilled. Especially in early disturbances, 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.
The return to the self
Another aspect of the FA is the emphasis on the self to self-relationship, which is the earliest and most important relationship. Once the person has re-organised her relationship to herself, she can then re-organise her relationships to all others. Not surprisingly, the self to self-relationship in FA also redefines the client/therapist relationship.
Another unique aspect of FA is our approach to resistances and blocks. Instead of engaging defences, we look to avoid them. Because of the non-invasive verbal and physical techniques, we can slip below the defences systematically to activate the potential within, without needing to break or dissolve defences or to work through personal history or trauma. Both our verbal and physical techniques are based on the principle of going below the defences, to the level before the creation of the problem itself.