Author: Larry Chu

Monthly PBSP Skills Consultation Group

Following our workshop on the theme of Updating PBSP Skills, Gus Kaufman, Ph.D. and Matt Fried, Ph.D., PBSP Trainers, are offering a monthly group for therapists who have had some experience of PBSP. We’ll meet on the first Friday of each month at 9:30 AM EST to 11:30 AM EST (if six or more therapists are present; an hour and a half if 3-5). We plan to begin April 2, 2021.

 We will offer experiential consultation, supervision and teaching. Therapists will have the options to share client dilemmas, request teaching on theory and skills, show videos of their work, practice skills on each other with supervision, and do personal work. Cost will be $125 and scholarship help will be available if needed. Limited to ten therapists. To sign up or for more information, contact Gus Kaufman, Ph.D. at or 404-483-7457.

Updating Your Knowledge and Skills in Pesso Boyden System Psychotherapy: An Experiential and Didactic Training

(via Zoom)

With Gus Kaufman, Ph.D., Matt Fried, Ph.D, Robbin McInturff, M.A., LPC, LMFT, Certified PBSP Trainers

PBSP is a powerful, transformative theory and set of therapeutic practices. Throughout his life Al Pesso continued to evolve the work that he and Diane Boyden Pesso created. Al was increasingly clear that we must attend to what is happening in ‘the mind’s eye and the mind’s body,’ a guiding principle as PBSP trainers have collaborated to adapt PBSP to online work.

In this workshop we will address later developments of PBSP theory and practice:  Key innovations such as reversals (not lingering in the problem), holes in roles (identifying clients who moved consciously or unconsciously to take care of their parents/people, shut down their own ability to take in, and became hyper-responsible, yet empty), making ‘movies’ to heal holes-in-roles, placeholders (neutral objects used rather than negative figures), and how to create powerful antidotal experiences for clients in one-on-one online therapy and in online group therapy.  Pesso recognized people often project the principle of ideal or negative parent onto a spouse or boss. We will teach his technique of moving principles from where they are projected to where they need to be. We will demonstrate exercises that adapt well to online work and using video connection to enhance micro-tracking (witnessing affects and externalizing ‘voices’—injunctions that create ‘old maps.’) We will offer guidance and discussion on how to address, theoretically and practically, issues of racism, sexism, gender identity and sexual orientation from a PBSP perspective.

Trainers will lead exercises and mini-structures. We will demonstrate going from relaxed-reflex-stance information about body signals to body-based reparative structures.

This workshop is designed for therapists who have had exposure to or training in PBSP and wish to learn later developments and brush up their skills. If participants desire, we will provide follow-up skills training and supervision, and offer a master class supervising therapists’ work—live and videotaped. PS If you have not used Zoom & have a laptop, we can teach this in advance. It’s not difficult.

Date(s): 9 AM-12EST, December 5, 2020 (Saturday) and 9 AM-12EST December 6, 2020 (Sunday)

Cost: $400. Six CE’s for psychologists, social workers, marriage and family therapists, professional counselors applied for through R. Cassidy (extra charge).

To register send $150 deposit to Matt Fried, Ph.D., PO Box 63, NY, NY 12455 or Venmo or Chase QuickPay/Zelle  to 917.701.6054                  

For more information, contact Gus Kaufman, Ph.D., 404.483.7457

7th PBSP® International Conference

In September 2019, on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the birth of Albert Pesso and Diane Boyden-Pesso, the 7th PBSP® International Conference “Science and Good Practice” took place in Prague. Seven of the plenary lectures were videotaped and shared on YouTube. The links to those lectures can be found below. Additionally, there were fourteen workshops offered at the conference. Videos of those workshops are unavailable at this time.

Emotions, Brain Development, and the Role of Early Experiences

Nim Tottenham, PhD.
Keynote Speech – plenary lecture
Saturday, September 28, 2019

The foundation of mature emotion regulation is comprised of connections between the amygdala and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). We have shown that this circuitry is slow to develop in humans, and age-related changes in this neurobiology underlie the maturation of affective behaviors. The current talk will present a series of behavioral and functional neuroimaging studies that characterize the development of this circuitry and begin to elucidate the mechanisms by which social environments modulate its development. The talk is dedicated to neural and behavioral findings in typical development and also to development following early caregiving adversity. Discussion will focus on possible sensitive periods of brain development and the role of the social environment in establishing the neural architecture that supports emotional behaviors in maturity.

Nim Tottenham, PhD. (USA)

Nim Tottenham is a Professor of Psychology at Columbia University in New York and Director of the Developmental Affective Neuroscience Laboratory. She is interested in the developing brain and the powerful role of early experiences, such as sensitive caregiving and early childhood adversity and stress on brain development and functioning.

The research of the Developmental Affective Neuroscience lab focuses on the development of neural circuits that underlie affective behaviors across childhood and adolescence, with a particular emphasis on limbic-cortical connections (e.g., amygdala-medial prefrontal cortex).

The Lab’s major focus is to characterize normative human brain development. Professor Tottenham and her colleagues at her Lab use behavioral, physiological, and functional MRI methods with the aim of identifying sensitive periods during which the environment has the largest influence on neural phenotypes.

Nim Tottenham has authored over 80 journal articles and book chapters. She is a frequent lecturer both nationally and internationally on human brain and emotional development. She is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science and is a recipient of the National Institute of Mental Health Biobehavioral Research Awards for Innovative New Scientists (BRAINS) Award, the American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology, and the Developmental Science Early Career Researcher Prize.

Using PBSP to Work with Adults with Unresolved Childhood Trauma: What We Can Learn from the Neuroscience of Memory and Attachment Theory

Petra Winnette, PhD.
Plenary lecture
Saturday September 28, 2019; 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

PBSP is a psychotherapy used with adults who suffer from adverse childhood experiences. The method is based on the concept of “creating new memories in the past”. We will compare current findings about memory systems in neuroscience and attachment theory which resonate with concepts used in PBSP.

Learning objectives:

  • Review relevant neuroscience research on memory
  • Review how attachment memories influence social development
  • Explore how these findings can inform and enrich PBSP theory and practice

Attachment theory and neuroscience research both emphasize the importance of early experiences for decision making, behavior and relationships later in life. Both positive and adverse childhood experiences are encoded in the brain but have different effects in shaping social functioning throughout childhood, adolescence and adulthood.

We will summarize current neuroscience findings on memory systems and the impact of memories of early care giving on development and show how the research relates to PBSP therapy.

Videotapes of clinical work will illustrate how early attachment memories influence behavior in childhood and adulthood and how the principle of creation of new positive memories is used therapy.

Petra Winnette, PhD. (CZ)

Petra Winnette has a Master’s degree from the Faculty of Pedagogy at Charles University in Prague. She studied developmental psychology at University College Cork in Ireland and graduated from Charles University with a Doctorate in Comparative Science. She was a Fulbright Scholar at the Affective Developmental Neuroscience Lab in the Psychology Department of Columbia University in New York (2017-2018). Petra was a lecturer and a member of the scientific committee for the ICAPAP conference (International Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Affiliated Professions) in 2018. As a clinician and scientist, she is interested in how early childhood experiences influence brain development and behavior throughout the life span and how neuroscience relates to psychotherapy. Petra is an author of several books in this area. She is a certified PBSP therapist.


Structure of the Brain and Architecture of the Mind

Prof. MUDr. Jiri Horacek, PhD., FCMA
Keynote Speech – Plenary lecture
Friday, September 27, 2019, 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Linking physical reality, brain activity and consciousness still stands as one of the most interesting and elusive problems of neuroscience, psychology, psychiatry and philosophy. Finding their mutual relationships represents the first step toward explanation how the brain process external information and how the picture of reality in our mind relates the world. It would also enable to elucidate the mechanisms responsible for psychopathological symptoms.

In this lecture, I will start with basic morphological and functional constituents of brain activity such as the neuronal doctrine, neuroplasticity and the origin of mental representation of external world. The next part will aim to propose and support a concept of a triple brain network model of the functional switching between default mode and central executive neural network related to the orchestrating activity of the salience network. The last part will be dedicated to the theory of predictive coding which explains how the activity of neuronal networks is coordinated in physiological conditions and dyscoordinated (sic) in mental disorders. The proposed models could represent a unitary mechanism of a wide array of symptom domains present in mental disorders and address the essential therapeutic targets for psychotherapy.

Prof. MUDr. Jiri Horacek, PhD., FCMA (CZ)

Jiri Horacek is a Professor of Psychiatry at the Third Faculty of Medicine, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic. He holds a degree in psychiatry and psychotherapy. He is currently the Deputy Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, Czech Republic.

Professor Horacek has been actively involved in 50 scientific research projects. His research activities involve the use of brain imaging (PET, fMRI and qEEG) in the fields of schizophrenia, depression and OCD, psychiatric genetics and the animal modeling of metal disorders. He is both the editor of several books and the author of more than 100 scientific articles.

Jiri Horacek has received several national and international psychiatric awards from the International Pharmaco-EEG Society (Werner Hermann Memorial Award), the Czech Neuropsychopharmacological Society and ECNS-ISNIP. In his productive career he has been awarded the Senior Research Fellow of the Bedfordshire CMHR in association with the University of Cambridge. He was also the President of the Czech Neuropsychopharmacological Society.



The Effectiveness of Scenic-Symbolic Interventions Used in PBSP for Inducing a Corrective Emotional Experience

Jan Sirinek, PhD.
Plenary lecture
Friday, September 27, 2019; 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

In traditional approaches, the corrective emotional experience is produced in an interpersonal setting either in the client – therapist relationship or amongst the members of a therapeutic group. The vital contribution of PBPS is in its shifting a corrective emotional experience from an interpersonal to a symbolic reality. For this purpose, PBSP includes a unique system of interventions using precisely targeted and controlled instruments of body – and drama-oriented therapies. Research recently conducted by the author at Charles University in Prague explored the potential for verifying the efficiency of these instruments in a randomized, controlled trial.

Learning objectives:

  • Introduce the key terms of “Scenic-symbolic principle/intervention”, invented exclusively for the purposes of this research.
  • Review relevant psychotherapeutic schools which use the scenic-symbolic principle.
  • Review the introduction, methods, and results of the original research.
  • Outline the possible contribution of PBSP to research in psychotherapy in the future.

We will use a case study for defining and demonstrating the relevance of the term “Scenic-Symbolic principle”. The term was introduced and intended to (1) ascribe symbolic significance to people, objects, or areas of the therapy room, (2) enable these as roles for dramatization, and (3) employ the symbolic significance of physical contact and body motion. Therapeutic schools the use the scenic-symbolic principle will be discussed briefly.

In the original research, 40 volunteers were divided into two groups, experimental and control. Both groups were exposed to a supporting intervention under strict experimental conditions: The control group received supporting/non-scenic, and the experimental supporting/scenic intervention.

The design and results of the research will be described in detail. In the following discussion, we will consider some perspectives on the possibility of the undiscovered potential of PBSP for conducting randomized controlled trials.

Jan Sirinek, PhD. (CZ)

Jan Sirinek is a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist with private practice in Prague, Czech Republic. He attended the first PBSP training in Prague from 1998 to 2002, and has led PBSP groups once a week for 16 years since. He co-founded the Czech PBSP association in 2010, and elected head of the association in 2013, charged with co-developing experiential and training PBSP programs in the Czech Republic in close collaboration with Al Pesso. Jan coordinated two national PBSP conferences, in 2011 and 2014. He published several articles on PBSP in local professional journals.

Parallels of PBSP with Key concepts in Developmental Psychology

Sandy Cotter, M.A., M.S.
Plenary lecture
Friday September 27, 2019; 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Three fundamental formulations in developmental psychology articulate well established psychodynamic crossroads. These are ‘Attachment Theory’, ‘Mentalization’ and the ‘Oedipal Triangle’. This paper will explore how PBSP techniques and devices can partner with these high profile concepts, providing a practical and singular contribution healing.

Detailed description of the contribution:

John Bowlby believed that an individual’s ‘attachment style’ is in place by 11 months. Neuroscientists maintain that this ‘wiring’ is laid down in the arena of implicit memory within the depths of the limbic system. Issues of babyhood are pre-verbal and so are well addressed by PBSP interventions concerning place, nurture and support. In a PBPS structure the ‘rewiring’ of alternative and ideal memories about being welcome, safe, and a focus of delight is palpable.  Attachment Theory’s ‘earned secure’ category provides a definition of what good PBSP structures based in babyhood achieve.

Fonagy’s notion of ‘mentalization’ (the ability to imagine what is in the mind of another) is facilitated by PBSP’s classical ‘limits’ intervention where the omnipotent ‘toddler’ is faced with the reality of others who are subjects (with minds of their own) rather than objects (a resource or an obstacle in reference to the child’s ‘me’). Again, the right brain focus and robust body work in PBSP stimulates changes in the body-brain in places where talking techniques cannot reach.

Arguably, Freud’s Oedipal triangle was the start of the basis of psychoanalysis. Although less central these days, it is still relevant in the psychological development of many individuals. The Oedipal conflict – unlike the previous two issues – occurs once the left brain is in place and possibly in control. Nevertheless, change is augmented by the physical interactions and symbolic encounters central to PBSP’s unique limiting interventions geared to resolve the desire to (1) displace the primacy of the same sex parent, and (2) become inappropriately linked to the parent of the opposite sex.

All of us in Prague at the Conference know that PBSP is a remarkably creative and effective system. We also know it warrants a wider profile. One purpose behind the paper is the demonstration of PBSP’s theoretical coherence with other highly regarded perspectives along with its confluent body-based focus. It is hoped that this may serve to broaden the appreciation for our work among therapists schooled in other traditions.

Sandy Cotter, M.A., M.S. (UK)

Sandy Cotter is one of the three PBSP trainers and supervisors in the UK accredited by Al Pesso and Lowijs Perquin. She brings a career in body-based approaches to mental wellbeing and organisational interaction, having studied under Alexander Lowen and Stanley Keleman, founders of bio-energetic psychotherapeutic practice. Sandy has extended bio-energetic principles of character structure and relational effectiveness into her own system of professional development, the Centaur model. Beyond her work with psychotherapeutic clients and PBSP trainees, Sandy has consulted and led workshops for many years with major corporate clients in different sectors. She was a Founding Director of the Praxis Centre at Cranfield University’s School of Management.


Holes in roles from the Perspective of Affect Regulation Theory

James Amundsen, PhD.
Plenary lecture
Friday, September 27, 2019; 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

I’ll be using the work of neurologist Alan Shore, whose work is often summarized as affect regulation theory.

Albert Peso’s summary of holes in roles, “too much going out too soon”, refers to a developmental sequence that results in an organized adaptation to the dysregulated self state of another person. The dysregulated state of an other is experienced as one’s own. This self state involves an attempt to solve the others’ pain through an omnipotent fantasy where the person feels as if he or she is the “only one” who can handle the dysregulated state, or, a state of in-completion , of the other. The pain/need of the other is experienced as the responsibility of the self and one’s self is the only one that can fix the other. Both the felt sense that the self is responsible for the other and the felt sense that the self can fix the other is a grandiose fantasy that means the self is taking responsibility for something it in fact can do nothing, or very little, about which creates an ongoing, impossible, perfectionist demand on the self. The ongoing attempt to meet the impossible demand mask (of defends)  (sic) the self against an intolerable dysregulated state.

James Amundsen, PhD. (USA)

Jim Amundsen is a certified PBSP therapist, supervisor and trainer. President of the North Central Psychomotor Society. PhD. Licensed Psychologist, M. Ministry, Earlham School of Religion. PhD, counseling Psychology, The Fielding Institute.


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).