The Intersubjective Field

By | January 14, 2009

The Intersubjective Field of Healing – Beyond Technique

Published in: The Journal of the Rolf Institute, September 2006
                      IASI 2007 Yearbook of Structural Integration


Recent advancements within neuroscience confirm that the therapeutic alliance (i.e., the collaborative relationship between patient and therapist) plays a major role in the outcome of therapy, even more so than technique. A primary component of the alliance is the emotional bond that is formed and the regulation of feelings between patient and therapist. With an emphasis on the therapeutic relationship, the phenomena of transference and countertransference are seen to be fundamental to the process of psychotherapy. Although, we as Rolfers attend to the physical nature of our clients, issues of transference and countertransference are present in our work with others.

Dr. Rolf’s real passion related to human potential. In addition to improving posture and relieving chronic pain, she was intent on increasing vitality and feelings of wellbeing in her clients. Her unique vision continually informs us regarding how genetics, trauma, habit, and culture shape the human form and that each person’s shape constitutes their personal history and suffering.

It is no wonder that she was invited to present her work at the Esalen
Institute in Big Sur, California along with others who were pushing the
envelope of psychology.  She did not want to teach her students to be
manipulators but rather educators. The root origin of the word
education is educare, which means to care for, nourish, cause to grow.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Esalen was the laboratory for the human
potential movement. Such greats as Fritz Perls (Gestalt Therapy), Will
Schutz (Encounter Group Therapy), Charlotte Selver (Sensory Awareness),
Alexander Lowen (Bioenergetics), were all making their contribution to
realizing human potential. There are two premises that set Structural
Integration apart from other healing systems: the body is a plastic
medium and gravity is the therapist. Dr. Rolf was the first person to
suggest that just as a body can be misshaped from habit and trauma, it
can be reshaped with the skillful use of touch. She keenly observed
that a somatization of one’s negative experience shows itself as
undifferentiated shape in human structure. Through differentiation of
the bound myofascial tissues a more efficient and authentic form can
emerge. In the formative years of RolfingĀ® it was not uncommon to hear
such remarks from her clients as, “she has freed my soul”; “I was able
to let go of my grief”; “The little things that used to stress me out
no longer do”.

Dr. Rolf wrote an introduction to Rolfing for
the Psychotherapy Handbook, which Rosemary Feitis (1978) notes, “is
succinct and cagy”:

Rolfing is not primarily a psychotherapeutic
approach to the problems of humans, but the effect it has had on the
human psyche has been so noteworthy that many people insist on so
regarding it. Rolfing is an approach to the personality through the
myofascial collagen components of the physical body. It integrates and
balances the so-called “other bodies” of man, metaphysically described
as astral and etheric, now more modernly designated as psychological,
emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects. The amazing psychological
changes that appeared in Rolfed individuals were completely unexpected.
They inevitably suggest that behavior on any level reflects directly
the physical energy level initiating physical structure. The
psychological effect is far greater than one would expect to induce in
the brief encounter of ten hours of work, which is the normal cycle for
Rolfing integration. This effect can be understood if we see it as the
emergence of a different behavior pattern resulting from the very much
greater competence of physical myofascial organization. Rolfing
postulates on the basis of observation that a human is basically an
energy field operating in the greater energy of the earth; particularly
significant is that energy known as the gravitational field. As such,
the individual’s smaller field can be enhanced or depleted in
accordance with the spatial relations of the two fields. It would seem
appropriate, at this point in time, to state that following Rolfing a
man’s greater awareness suggests to him that his energy has been
increased. In fact, Rolfing has simply freed his energy, made it
possible to utilize his energy more efficiently. (pp. 26-27)

assert that Dr. Rolf’s perspective was a “relational” one. Obviously,
she referenced gravity as the therapist, but the process of guiding the
client to a better relationship with the forces of gravity requires a
relationship of Rolf practitioner and client. The rapport of Rolfer and
client is analogous to the psychotherapeutic relationship of
transference and countertransference; where the issues of the client
(transference) and the issues of the therapist (countertransference)
play a significant role in the outcome of intervention. More recently,
contemporary psychoanalysts have reinterpreted the
transference-countertransference phenomena in therapy in terms of


The term intersubjectivity refers in the most basic sense to the
interaction between two subjects: myself and another person, or self
and other (I/Thou). The study of consciousness within Western science
and philosophy has been polarized between “either/or” investigations;
either investigations of third-person (“It”), objective, correlates
(e.g. cognitive and neuroscience), or investigations of first-person
(“I”), subjective, experience and phenomena (e.g. introspection and

The second-person perspective (“Thou”) has mostly been overlooked in
Western philosophy of mind except in the notion of intersubjectivity.
Most notably, Jewish philosopher-theologian, Martin Buber (1878-1965)
recognized that human beings have two responses available to the world:
to relate to what is present either as an object (“I-It” relationship)
or as another responsible being (“I-Thou relationship). The essence of
human being was relationship, and Buber gave ontological status to the
“between”, a mysterious force, creative milieu, or presence from which
the experience of being a self arises. “Spirit is not in the I but
between I and You” (Buber, 1970, p. 89).

Being intensely engaged in relationship with another person is one of
the greatest joys of being human. Meeting, and being met by, another
human being provides vitalizing effects. So why not have a theory of
mind that shifts our perspective – from looking at the world as a
collection of objects, or even as a collection of subjects, to a view
that sees relationship as fundamental?

Most philosophical and psychoanalytic references to intersubjectivity
have more to do with the explicit, conscious linguistic communication
of one left brain to another left brain. A more embodied perspective of
intersubjectivity has to do with an implicit, nonverbal communication
of one right brain to another right brain as first experienced with our
mother or primary caregiver (Schore, 2003; Seigel, 1999). The language
of mother and infant is nonconscious, and consists of signals produced
by the autonomic, involuntary nervous system in both parties. This
implicit view of intersubjectivity is what is most meaningful to me and
will be explored more fully.

The psychoneurobiological model of emotional development embraces the
early developing right brain perspective of intersubjectivity. “For the
rest of the lifespan the right brain, which is more connected into the
limbic than the later-developing left, is especially involved in
unconscious activities and spontaneous emotional communication. Because
this hemisphere is dominant for ‘subjective emotional experiences’
(Wittling & Roschmann, 1993), the interactive ‘transfer of affect’
between the right brains of the members of the mother-infant and
therapeutic dyads is thus best described as intersubjectivity” (Schore,
2003, p. 76; italics added).


Soon after completing my Basic Rolfing Training in early 1979, Dr. Rolf
passed away. While attending a memorial service at the Sacramento
Street Rolfing Center in San Francisco, I met Dr. Peter Levine. Within
a few weeks I was doing individual therapy with him. Unlike most
therapeutic approaches, he guided me into my body and interior realms
of sensation, feeling, and emotion. Little did I realize how “bottled
up” I was with my felt sense. My clinical practice was also being
affected. There had been no guidelines in my basic Rolfing training to
prepare me for what I was experiencing then. As my inner world
continued to blossom, I was getting more activated with each client
treatment. Sensations of hot and cold, tingling, profuse sweating,
accompanied by feelings of confusion, anxiety, frustration, and
agitation were common themes for me. I was unable to differentiate
whether I was feeling what my client was feeling; or my feelings were
being influenced by what my client was feeling; or that I was feeling
my own feelings. Almost daily I would phone Peter and ask him what I
should do with all of my feelings and activation. His response: “This
is a good thing… Notice what you are feeling right now… That’s it,
that’s it… Just settle into that…” Although Peter’s voice of support
and reassurance were soothing, my inner struggles continued.

With hopes of understanding and bringing resolve from my discomforts, I
pursued various continuing education courses and trainings including,
numerous Rolf Institute workshops and the Advanced Training;
craniosacral workshop with Dr. John Upledger; visceral manipulation
with Drs. Jean Pierre Barral and Didier Pratt; Ericksonian hypnotherapy
with Stephen Gilligan and Bill O’Hanlon; and biodynamic craniosacral
with Franklyn Sills. Each of these perspectives broadened my technical
skills but didn’t address the intersubjective field. In addition, I
explored numerous psychotherapies such as Freudian, Jungian, Gestalt
and Reichian. These were invaluable in developing my intrasubjective
realm, however none of my therapists were well suited in establishing
an intersubjective relationship with me.

Up to this time I hadn’t realized the degree to which my
countertransferential issues influenced my therapeutic relationships.
In the mid 1990s I taught a five-day Rolfing workshop on the
relationship of bodily shape and inner states. One of the students
asked me to do some work with her as a demonstration of this
interrelationship of shape and state. I requested that she keep her
clothes on and lie on the treatment table. As she lay supine, I asked
her what she was experiencing. She stated that she was feeling a
restriction of her breathing. At this time I had not made any physical
contact with her but was seated some six feet away. I had the thought
and vision to place my hands along the right side of her diaphragm.
Suddenly, she began to hyperventilate and reported feeling compressed
in the region of her body that I had visualized working with. Feelings
of panic and disorientation ensued followed by freezing sensations in
her pelvis and legs. By then, the whole classroom became cold,
especially me. My body was freezing in the very areas that she was
reporting freezing sensations. I placed a blanket over her and asked
her what she needed from me. She asked for support of her lower back.
As I placed both hands under her lumbar region her legs began to
vibrate. I encouraged her to allow the vibrations she was feeling to
move into the other regions of her body. Within a matter of seconds her
whole body was trembling. I then asked what emotion she was
experiencing. She said she felt sad and began to cry. As she continued
crying, her trembling ceased and the feelings of cold were replaced
with warm sensations. Ah! I, too, was feeling waves of warmth and a
sense of relief from my earlier immobility. As she continued to settle
into herself and the table, I asked her if she’d be willing to share
what she was thinking or feeling just now. She spoke of early sexual
abuse and how she had always been afraid to contact the feelings in her
body that were associated with her trauma. Rather than experiencing her
shame and disgust, she chronically braced her legs and pelvis to avoid
having her feelings. For the first time in her adult life, she reported
having “flowing-like-feelings” in her pelvis and legs. As she got off
the table and moved around the room she expressed a grace and ease. It
appeared as though she had received a combination of sessions Four,
Five, and Six of the Basic Rolfing series. This whole process took less
than thirty minutes.

    I did nothing with my physical touch to start this deep process for
her. But what I did do was “transmit” to her body-mind-brain from my
body-mind-brain an implicit communication or stimulus that precipitated
the session. Wow! I not only have to be present physically for my
clients, but also emotionally and mentally. I must be mindful on all

    There is so much emphasis placed on attending to our client’s needs
in the therapeutic relationship. Naturally, we have to be there for
them, they are paying us to assist them in their healing. But what do I
do with my own physical, emotional, and mental issues
(countertransference) as they arise while attending to another? Do I
contain my charge of activation within my sessions and let them out
later through exercise, drugs, alcohol, sex, kicking the dog, or
yelling at my wife? Or do I somatize it and have to receive frequent
bodywork in order to gain a sense of relief? Or do I dump my
intrapersonal issues within the clinical setting? The bigger question
for me is how do I find a style of working that affords me, as well as
the other, feelings of wholeness and wellbeing at the completion of a
session. This requires certain working models of self, personality, and
therapeutic relationship that I want to explore here.

Prior to Dr. Rolf’s passing she envisioned three different schools of
Rolfing: scientific/anatomical, emotional/psychological, and
energetic/metaphysical. Which school did I fit in? As a former Advanced
Faculty Member of the Rolf Institute, I felt well versed in the
scientific/anatomical arena. I had also explored the
energetic/metaphysical domain through psychic healing, Native American
Shamanism, and many years of Aikido practice. None of these
explorations fulfilled my need to know and understand how to be present
for and work with my countertransferential issues in the clinical
setting. Clearly, the emotional/psychological realm was calling me.

In the fall of 2003, I enrolled in a doctoral program in Somatic
Psychology at the Santa Barbara Graduate Institute. I became immersed
in prenatal and perinatal psychology, attachment theory, human
development, affect regulation, psychoneurobiology, and authentic
movement. It was in the summer of 2004 that I met Dr. Allan Schore, a
clinician and researcher, who is considered a world authority within
the field of psychoneurobiology (an integration of psychology,
neurology, and biology). His theories provide a deeper understanding of
the critical relationship between affect regulation and the
organization of the self. His writings speak to my clinical experiences
and provide a framework for negotiating issues of transference and
countertransference within the therapeutic relationship.


During the course of the Decade of the Brain (1990-2000), the fields of
cognitive, social, and affective neuroscience experienced a growth
spurt in knowledge, due in part to advances in brain-imaging
technologies. The ability to not only theorize about brain development,
but also to observe it during critical phases of infant development has
revolutionized not only the aforementioned fields of neuroscience, but
also psychobiology, psychophysiology, psychiatry, psychology, and the
social sciences. I think what best characterizes the advances of the
Decade of the Brain in the life sciences has to do with the
acceleration of interdisciplinary research that has allowed for an
integration of data from different fields of study. Each of these
fields is seeking to more deeply understand the human condition.

A common area of interest to researchers in the psychological,
biological, medical, and social sciences, as well as to clinicians in
psychiatry, psychology, and social work, has to do with affect
regulation and dysregulation. As Schore (2003) states, “Affective
processes appear to lie at the core of the self, and due to the
intrinsic psychobiological nature of these bodily-based phenomena
recent models of human development, from infancy throughout the
lifespan, are moving towards brain-mind-body conceptualizations. These
models are redefining the essential characteristics of what makes us
uniquely human” (p. xiv). I recall that in the 1970s, when I entered
into self- exploration and personal growth, “waking up” and becoming
conscious was the movement and focus of the times. Not so today – “The
self and personality, rather than consciousness, is the outstanding
issue in neuroscience. So much of our behavior emerges from processes
to which we have little conscious access” (Davidson, 2002, p. 268). The
interest is more attentive to the nonconscious processes, beneath
conscious awareness, where brain-mind-body operations occur

These nonconscious processes take place within the lower and central
brain structures. These are referred to as the brain stem and limbic
system respectively. The brain stem mediates basic elements of energy
flow, arousal and alertness, and the body’s physiological state –
temperature, respiration, and heart rate. “The limbic regions are
thought to mediate emotion, motivation, and goal-directed behavior.
Limbic structures permit the integration of a wide range of basic
mental processes, such as the appraisal of meaning, the processing of
social experience (called ‘social cognition’), and the regulation of
emotion…Although each element contributes to the functioning of the
whole, regions such as the limbic system, with extensive input and
output pathways linking widely distributed areas in the brain, may be
primarily responsible for integrating brain activity” (Siegel, 1999,

During the first two years of life, the infant’s right hemisphere
develops at an accelerated rate, especially in the right orbito-frontal
regions. It is here that there is a convergence of hypothalamic,
limbic, amygdala, and temporal lobe structures. These regions process
the implicit and affective information coming into the infant from both
its inner and outer environments. At this stage of early life, the
infant is relatively unable to self-regulate and naturally seeks
external regulation from its primary caregiver. The mother, or primary
caregiver, must serve as an external affect regulator for the infant’s
arousal states. The role of the “good enough” mother is to provide
affective attunement and resonance to her infant’s highly aroused
affective states of pleasure and joy; and conversely, the mother
facilitates a down regulation of negative affective states. These
hyper-aroused and hypo-aroused affective states of experience help
shape the activity of the brain and the strength of neuronal
connections throughout life. “The brain’s development is an
‘experience-dependent’ process, in which experience activates certain
pathways in the brain, strengthening existing connections and creating
new ones. Lack of experience can lead to cell death in a process called
‘pruning.’ This is sometimes called a ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ principle of
brain development” (Siegel, 1999, p. 14).

Drs. Schore, Siegel, and others concur that the regulation of emotion
is the essence of self-organization. As Siegel says, “Lack of mental
well-being may often be a result of emotion dysregulation” (Siegel,
1999, p. 274). It is very clear to me that the dyadic relationship
between mother and infant establishes the behaviors of autoregulation
and socioemotional relationships for the developing infant. This right
hemispheric implicit communication remains plastic throughout one’s
life span and “is dominant for the implicit cognitive processing of
facial, prosodic, and bodily information embedded in emotional
communications, for attention, for empathy, and for the human stress
response” (Schore, 2003, p. xv). Just as the infant requires the mother
to be its external regulator when distressed, we as adults need
relationships that afford regulation (interactive repair) from our
dysregulated states. It is within the therapeutic relationship that our
need for interactive repair can be made possible. “The intuitive
empathic therapist psychobiologically attunes to and resonates with the
patient’s shifting affective state, thereby co-creating with the
patient a context in which the clinician can act as a regulator of the
patient’s physiology” (Schore, 2003, p. 48). These theoretical
perspectives speak to my clinical experiences. It is through body-brain
attunement with the client that I gather the most relevant information
about what a client needs in order to find balance, connectedness, and
a sense of wholeness. My success has everything to do with contacting
the feeling, sensory, and emotional aspects of my client.

Over the past thirteen years, basic knowledge of brain structure and
function has vastly expanded, and its incorporation into the
developmental sciences is now allowing for more complex and heuristic
models for human infancy. As such, the field of psychoneurobiology has
emerged as a way of understanding the mechanisms that underlie infant
mental health. Schore (2003) has detailed the neurobiology of a secure
attachment, an exemplar of adaptive infant mental health, and has
focused on the primary caregiver’s psychobiological regulation of the
infant’s maturing limbic system, the brain areas specialized for
adapting to a rapidly changing environment. Because the infant’s early
developing right hemisphere has deep connections into the limbic and
autonomic nervous systems and is dominant for the human stress
response, the infant-mother (attachment) relationship facilitates the
expansion of the child’s coping capacities. The attachment model
suggests that adaptive mental health can be fundamentally defined as
the earliest expression of flexible strategies for coping with the
novelty and stress that is part of human interactions. This efficient
right brain function is a resilience factor for optimal development
over the later stages of the life cycle.

Optimal development has mostly been addressed by the psychological
sciences, but with the advances in brain research, developmental
neuroscience is now in a position to offer more detailed and integrated
psychoneurobiological models of normal and abnormal development.

Perhaps the most important scientist of the late twentieth century to
apply an interdisciplinary perspective to the understanding of how
early developmental processes influence adult mental health was John
Bowlby (1969). Almost three decades ago he claimed that attachment
theory can frame specific hypotheses that relate early family
experiences to different forms of psychiatric disorders, including the
neurophysiological changes that accompany these disturbances of mental
health. Attachment theory has become the dominant theoretical model of
development in contemporary psychology, psychoanalysis, and psychiatry;
it is the most powerful current source of hypotheses about infant
mental health. Bowlby inspired deeper explorations into how an immature
organism can be shaped by its primary caregiver, usually the mother,
through its attachment bond with her. In his view, developmental
processes are the product of the interaction of genetic endowment with
a particular “environment of adaptiveness, and especially of his
interaction with the principal figure in that environment, namely his
mother” (p. 180).

He concluded that the infant’s emerging social, psychological, and
biological capacities cannot be understood apart from its relationship
with the mother. He observed that the mother-infant attachment is
“accompanied by the strongest of feelings and emotions, happy or the
reverse”, (Bowlby, 1969, p. 242), that this interaction occurs within a
context of “facial expression, posture, tone of voice, physiological
changes, tempo of movement, and incipient action,” (p. 120), “that
attachment interactions allow for the emergence of a biological control
system which functions in the organism’s ‘state of arousal'” (pp.
152-157), “that the instinctive behavior which constitutes attachment
emerges from the co-constructed environment of evolutionary
adaptiveness has consequences that are ‘vital to the survival of the
species'” (p.137), and “that the infant’s ‘capacity to cope with
stress’ is correlated with certain maternal behaviors” (p. 344).

These last two factors, adaptiveness and coping capacity, are obviously
central components of infant mental health. In essence, Bowlby, Schore,
and others have contended that attachment theory is a regulatory
theory. Because regulation theory integrates both the biological and
psychological realms, it can also be used to further models of normal
and abnormal structure-function development, and therefore adaptive and
maladaptive infant mental health. In attachment transactions the secure
mother, at a non-conscious, intuitive level, is constantly regulating
her baby’s shifting arousal levels and therefore emotional states.
“Emotions, and the experience of emotion, are the highest-order direct
expression of bioregulation in complex organisms. Leave out emotion and
you leave out the prospect of understanding bioregulation
comprehensively, especially as it regards the relation between an
organism and the most complex aspects of an environment: society and
culture” (Damasio, 1998, p. 84).

This psychobiological interaction between mother and infant is where
the interface of nature and nurture occur. It is now known that our
genetic potential (nature) can be realized through our environmental
experience (nurture). During the “shared moment” with mother and infant
“when mutual eye contact is established, both participants know that
the loop between them has been closed…and this is the most potent of
all social situations” (Schore, 1994, p, 61). Face-to-face
interactions, occurring at two months of age, are highly arousing,
affect-laden, short interpersonal events that expose infants to high
levels of cognitive and social information. In order to regulate these
high positive arousals, mothers and infants synchronize the intensity
of their affective behavior within lags of split seconds.

In physics, a property of resonance is sympathetic vibration, which is
the tendency of one resonance system to enlarge and augment through
matching the resonance frequency pattern of another resonance system.
In essence, when the mother-infant dyad is in resonance, the attuned
mother’s role is to amplify, contain, and modulate her infant’s
affective displays through differentiation and self-reflection of her
own affective states. But the primary caregiver is not always attuned,
and during these moments of misattunement, disruption of the attachment
bond usually happens. According to Schore (1994), it is at these times
that the re-attuned, comforting mother and infant thus dyadically
negotiate a stressful state transition of affect, cognition, and
behavior. This recovery mechanism underlies the phenomenon of
“interactive repair”, in which participation of the mother is
responsible for repair of stressful misattunements.

Emotions and their regulation are thus essential to the adaptive function of the brain, which is described by Damasio (1994):

The overall function of the brain is to be well informed about what
goes on in the rest of the body, the body proper; about what goes on in
itself; and about the environment surrounding the organism, so that
suitable survivable accommodations can be achieved between the organism
and the environment.
(p. 90)  

Bowlby hypothesized that the maturation of the attachment control
system is open to influence by the particular environment (nurture) in
which development occurs. “Current neurobiological studies show that
the mature orbitofrontal cortex acts in ‘the highest level of control
of behavior, especially in relation to emotion’ (Price, Carmichael,
& Drevets, 1996, p. 523) and plays a ‘particularly prominent role
in the emotional modulation of experience'” (Mesulam, 1998, p. 1035 in
Schore, 2003, p. 41). In particular, the orbital prefrontal areas are
especially involved with attachment functions. This region acts as a
convergence zone, where cortex and subcortex meet. It is also closely
associated with the limbic system, which is responsible for the
rewarding-excitatory and aversive-inhibitory aspects of emotion; and to
the hypothalamus, which is responsible for the autonomic nervous system
(ANS), sympathetic, and parasympathetic responses. Because of its
unique connections, processed information concerning the external
environment (e.g., visual and auditory stimuli emanating from the
emotional face of the object) is integrated with subcortically
processed information regarding the visceral environment (e.g., changes
in the emotional or bodily sensing state). In particular, the early
maturing right cortex is dominant for selectively attending to facial
expressions, for the processing, expression, and regulation of
emotional information.

One of Schore’s (2003) major conclusions in his ongoing work on the
regulation of feelings or “affect regulation” is that primitive mental
states are more than early appearing mental or cognitive states of mind
that mediate physiological processes. They are more characterized as
psychobiological states, and therefore the therapist with a
developmental framework is not exploring primitive states of mind, but
primitive states of “mind-body”. The right brain is centrally involved
in unconscious activities, and just as the left brain communicates its
states to other left brains via conscious linguistic behaviors, the
right brain nonverbally communicates its unconscious states to other
right brains that are tuned to receive these communications. Freud
asserted that, “it is a very remarkable thing that the unconscious of
one human being can react upon that of another, without passing through
the conscious” (p. 49). He also proposed that the therapist should
“turn his own unconscious like a receptive organ towards the
transmitting unconscious of the patient…so the doctor’s unconscious is
able…to reconstruct [the patient’s] unconscious” (p. 49). He called
this state of receptive readiness “evenly suspended attention.” Schore
goes on to say,

    Studies of empathic processes between the “intuitive” attuned mother and her
    infant demonstrate that this affective synchrony is entirely nonverbal and that
    resonance is not so much with his mental (cognitive) states as with his
    psychobiological (affective-bodily) states. Similarly, the intuitive empathic
    therapist psychobiologically attunes to and resonates with the patient’s shifting
    affective state, thereby co-creating with the patient a context in which the
    clinician can act as a regulator of the patient’s physiology.  (p. 48)  

 “In other words, the energy expending sympathetic and energy
conserving parasympathetic components of the ANS regulate somatic
aspects of not only stress responses but emotional states” (p. 9). This
adaptive function is stressed by Porges (1997):

    Emotion depends on the communication between the autonomic nervous system
    and the brain; visceral afferents convey information on physiological state to the
    brain and are critical to the sensory or psychological experience of emotion, and
    cranial nerves and the sympathetic nervous system are outputs from the brain that
    provide somatomotor and visceromotor control of the expression of emotion.
(p. 65)


The theoretical perspectives I have presented are not a substitute for
developing skillful and precise Rolfing abilities. My intent has been
to provide a language to better understand the interactive processes we
experience with our clients. It has been my experience that the
unresolved or disrupted states associated with the mother-infant
relationship can be accessed and amplified through skillful and precise
Rolfing. The practitioner must provide support, safety, containment,
and titrate his intervention. When the client’s issues are accessed,
there is an opportunity for renegotiation of the dysregulated states
within the therapeutic dyad whereby the practitioner resonates,
attunes, and synchronizes with the client.

What else must a practitioner do to successfully negotiate these deep processes? I find Schore (2003) most succinct:

Our own ability to “enter into the other’s feeling state” depends upon
our capacity to tolerate varying intensities and durations of
countertransferential states marked by discrete positive affects, such
as joy and excitement, and negative affects, such as shame, disgust,
and terror. This range of our affect tolerance is very much a product
of our own unique history of early indelibly imprinted
emotionally-charged attachment dialogues, since it is these primordial
interactive experiences that profoundly influence the origin of the
self. For this reason, I believe personal psychotherapy is a
prerequisite for anyone entering the field. (p. 56)

How does a somatic therapist integrate the psychologist aspects of self? I think John Conger (2005) quotes Jung beautifully:
The part of the unconscious which is designated as the subtle body
becomes more and more identical with the functioning of the body, and
therefore it grows darker and darker and ends in the utter darkness of
matter; that aspect of the unconscious is exceedingly
incomprehensible…one must include not only the shadow–the psychological
unconscious–but also the physiological unconscious, the so-called
somatic unconscious which is the subtle body. You see, somewhere our
unconscious becomes material, because the body is the living unit, and
our conscious and our unconscious are embedded in it; they contact the
body. Somewhere there is a place where the two ends meet…and that is
the place where one cannot say whether it is matter or what one calls
“psyche”. (p. xxiii)

Bowlby, J. (1969). Attachment and loss. Vol. 1: Attachment. New York: Basic Books.
Buber, M. (1970). I and thou. New York: Touchstone.
Conger, J. P. (2005). Jung & Reich – The Body as Shadow. North Atlantic Books,
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Damasio, A. R. (1998). Emotion in the perspective of an integrated nervous system.
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