From Psychomotor to PBSP®. The Development of the Method: Change, Continuity and Core Identity

Barbara Fischer-Bartelmann, Dipl.-Psych., M.A.
Plenary lecture
Saturday, September 28, 2019; 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

What stages did the development of theory and practice of PBSP go through? What was the motivation behind the shifts? Which techniques were indeed abandoned, which modified, which embedded? What represents our Corporate Identity which will be able to maintain unity for future developments?

The fundament of PBSP in the observation of the body was a lifelong motivation for Al to continue refining and elaborating on the method that he and Diane had discovered.  His basic assumption, that we are the local agents of the constant unfolding of the cosmos, applied also to his own work.

It is impressive that the ensemble of intervention techniques underwent three major shifts – but this was sometimes to the dismay of earlier trainees. Al was a “moving target”, always eager to demonstrate and refine the newest developments. The common ground and maintained continuity through all of these steps was not equally visible. Different training group seemed to learn different therapies, sometimes trained by trainers who had their roots in different stages of intervention techniques and seemed to give diverging models. A number of our core reference articles were written at various developmental stages of the method and represent different, sometimes conflicting stages of techniques and developments.

Through all of his lifetime, the reference point for “what is PBSP” was Al himself. Now we need a new orientation point. “Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.” (Jean Jaures) What then is the “flame” that keeps the essential process of PBSP alive? What can be exchanged, what is outdated and abandoned, what needs to be maintained inevitably to remain true our core identity?

I had the privilege to have first hand access to the fundaments of Psychomotor through my training with Louisa Howe, who was member of the very first experimental group with the Pessos and major contributor to its theoretical framing. I had the exceptional opportunity to witness the developments since 1994 seamless and “in statu nascendi” through my two decades of close collaboration with Al as trainer.

I would like to offer you my perspective on the method as a self-similar system with certain recurring core concepts which form the centre of its identity and can serve as our common “north pole star” in future developments.

Barbara Fischer-Bartelmann, Dipl.-Psych., M.A. (DE)

Certified PBSP Therapist, Supervisor and Senior Trainer. Trainee of Louisa Howe, Boston (1994-1995), Al Pesso and Lowijs Perquin (Strolling Woods 1994-1995, Munich 1998-2001), ongoing translator and assistant to Al and Lowijs (1998-2015).