What Happens in Hakomi Sessions?
Overall, Hakomi typically follows a sequence: contact, accessing, processing and integration.
Contact begins in the initial stage of the work and involves the development and maintenance of a safe and accepting environment in which the individual feels comfortable undertaking the process of self-exploration. Without a sense of safety and trust, individuals may be disinclined to relax their defenses and open themselves up to the vulnerable state of mindfulness.
Accessing refers to the process by which mindfulness is used to study current experiences and uncover unconscious core material in order to process it and assimilate it into the existing concept of self. According to Hakomi theory, those who become aware of the limitations core material creates in their lives are more likely to experience a conscious desire for change. Hakomi practitioners can then help them experientially explore new options.
The practitioner might initiate this process by asking a person to close their eyes, turn attention inward and focus on what is happening in the body from moment to moment. Throughout the process, the practitioner mindfully observes and supports the unfolding of the individual’s therapeutic process, encouraging the individual to focus on any thoughts, sensations, images, feelings or memories emerging into awareness.
If individuals are willing, their somatic experiences are explored by means of "little experiments," which aim to discover the beliefs they hold about themselves and the world. These experiments often make use of probes, or positive statements conveying an idea exactly opposite to what the person appears to believe. When working with a person who lacks a strong sense of self-worth, a practitioner might say, “Just notice what happens when I say ‘You are a valuable person.’” These experiments often trigger memories, sensations, and emotions as direct expressions of core beliefs. These evoked reactions can then be studied in a safe environment.
Processing involves studying the individual’s experiences and responses to the experiments as well as the exploration of any beliefs and ideas potentially impacting well-being. The practitioner typically works with the individual to create new experiences to counteract these beliefs, encouraging the person to discover what feels personally right and true rather than analyzing these beliefs and ideas. Processing often leads to significant insight, transformation, and change. The internal wisdom of the person is emphasized.
Integration occurs toward the end of a session as the practitioner helps the individual to make sense of what was experienced during the session. The practitioner also helps the individual make connections between experiences during the session and life outside of the session.