Orgonomic Psychotherapy / Reichian Therapy is the full field of therapeutic work developed by Dr. Wilhelm Reich.
Reich was the father of somatic psychotherapy, and developed a systematic and powerful therapy to work biophysically (through the body) to complement verbal therapy. As we develop through life and its circumstances and woundings, we will contract, limit ourselves, and take on distorted attitudes in order to cope.
Reich understood, in part through his deep contact with the natural world, that we become frozen, numb or habitually unable to access our healthy and natural flow of energy, emotions, consciousness and inspiration. Additionally, our ability to make satisfying human contact becomes impaired. This occurs as a result of the adaptations we have had to make through our lives. Reich created the term “armoring” to define these defensive coping strategies.
Armoring defines defenses seen in both the personality and the body. In Reichian Therapy we work towards softening the physical armoring in the somatic work at the same time as we work in verbal therapy. This verbal work is referred to as Character Analysis; character is Reich’s term for one’s particular personality.
Character armoring develops to cope with or ward off anxiety and disappointment. The outgrowth is habitual relational, emotional, and attitudinal orientations that actually maintain our armored state. These are our recurring “problem areas”, where we get stuck and cannot find our way through. We may also have a rather sudden onset of a problem that upsets and challenges our habitual coping abilities. In character analysis, we intend to soften and make conscious these character patterns, work through the defenses, and heal the original wounds. This can result in a deep understanding of oneself and a liberation of energy, thought, and capacity to make healthy and desired changes.
Body armoring is manifested in chronic physical tensions, including overstimulated or compromised nervous systems. This armoring is the expression in the body of our character armoring; it is how we express our character energetically. Sometimes the stress over time of maintaining these organic patterns can create low energy, depression, heightened anxiety, and even illness. Our armoring inhibits us from leading fuller, more satisfying and expansive lives.
Since Reich’s time, there has been breakthrough psychological work that complements Reich’s research and practice. I have studied and been accredited by Dr. Patricia Frisch, the head of the Orgonomic Institute of Northern California in her method. She has integrated into Reich’s work the Masterson group’s work on Disorders of the Self, and also Attachment theory (John Bowlby, Mary Ainsworth, etc). She updates Reich’s therapy with current psychodynamic practice and understanding that Reich intuited. Reich knew, for example, that early attachment and development were crucial in the formation of self and relationship, and now these areas of research and practice bear him out.