The Hakomi Principles

The Hakomi Principles

Ron Kurtz considered the Hakomi principles “the true theoretical underpinnings” informing every aspect of the method. Each Hakomi principle translates into specific practices and ways of being that evoke clients’ innate impulse toward healing.

Although no one can embody these principles in every moment, the intention to do so is the core of Hakomi’s work. A key aspect of Hakomi training is learning to embody the principles below as a deep and consistent part of who you are and how you work. Our goal is to foster high quality, caring therapists as dedicated to their own self-awareness as they are to understanding others. This requires a heartfelt, long-term commitment to your own personal and professional growth.

MINDFULNESS

In the words of Ron Kurtz, “The principle of mindfulness refers to the understanding that real change comes about through awareness, not efforting.” Instead of guessing or interpretation, Hakomi uses mindfulness—a state of relaxed, nonjudgmental awareness–to study, activate, and directly experience the root causes underlying our habitual feelings, thoughts and behavior. As both practitioner and client embody this deep state of nonjudgmental attention, unconscious material gently surfaces that’s not typically accessible through conversation alone.

NONVIOLENCE

Most people see therapists as “experts” with superior knowledge whose directives they need to accept. Many therapists also hold this view. Hakomi practitioners practice nonviolence by gently guiding the therapeutic process, but never superimposing their perceptions over what feels right to the client. Another use of nonviolence in Hakomi is befriending and supporting “resistance” and psychological defenses instead of trying to confront or overpower them. This allows the defenses to

naturally soften, revealing their inherent wisdom and supporting deeper inner exploration.

MIND-BODY INTEGRATION

This principle affirms that mind and body jointly manifest and reflect the beliefs we hold about ourselves and the world, which in turn influence how we experience and express ourselves in life. Hakomi offers many practices for working with somatic material (e.g., habitual movements, gestures, posture and the body’s structure) to reveal the core experiences beliefs that they unconsciously express.

UNITY

The unity principle views people as living, organic systems–integral wholes composed of parts. Hakomi sees healing as a process that supports disconnected parts of the system to communicate so they can function as a harmonious whole. Hakomi practitioners recognize and work with the interdependency of all levels of the human system, including the physical/metabolic, intrapsychic, interpersonal, family, cultural and spiritual.

ORGANICITY assumes that when all the parts are communicating within the whole, we are naturally self-directing, self-correcting, and self-actualizing, with our own innate inner wisdom. In Hakomi, rather than imposing our own agenda, we support our clients’ organic unfolding toward wholeness, and trust that this is the direction that their system will naturally seek.

LOVING PRESENCE

Over a decade after Ron Kurtz established Hakomi’s core principles, he began to focus on loving presence as a core element of the therapeutic process. Although Ron never officially added it to his five original principles, we include it here to honor the centrality of loving presence in Hakomi.

Loving presence is the core practice that holds Hakomi’s five principles. One inspiration for including loving presence as a central element of Hakomi was research indicating that the personhood or inner state of the therapist is at least 8 times more predictive of therapeutic success than the methods used (Mahoney, 1991). Loving presence invites us to enter into a state of appreciation for the beauty, humanity and inspiring qualities within each human being. This practice supports people to move towards greater self-acceptance and self-love and brings nourishment and ease to both client and practitioner.