When you need the very best medical or legal advice, ask a doctor or lawyer who they see when they need help personally. In recent years one man has emerged as the most sought after “therapists’ therapist.” But Al Pesso, the maverick co-founder of a leading school of body psychotherapy, doesn’t even have an advanced degree and actually began his career as a modern dancer and choreographer trained by the legendary Martha Graham. 60 years later, Pesso still delights in kicking up his heels dancing, but is acknowledged by those in the know, as a grand master of psychotherapy with some referring to him as akin to a “national living treasure.”
A virtual who’s who in psychotherapy both in America and Europe will testify to Pesso’s unique wizardry as therapist:
“The artistry of Pesso’s ‘structure’ can be a unique and profoundly life-altering experience. Over the past 40 years, Al Pesso and Diane Boyden Pesso have perfected an extraordinarily effective technique, PBSP [Pesso Boyden System Psychomotor], providing people with experiences that were missing during their growth and development. ” Bessel van der Kolk, MD past President, International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies and Professor of Psychiatry, BU Medical School
“Psychomotor [PBSP], which I describe, is a smaller group [than EMDR] and yet I have seen fabulous things happen there. There was one international financier who had been through a complete psychoanalysis — had been through every kind of therapy you could ever mention and he said, ‘this is like speed dialing to the unconscious’, and he’s a devotee of that.” Maggie Scarf, best selling author and senior fellow at the Bush Center in Child Development and Social Policy at Yale University
“Despite having been psychoanalyzed years ago and having completed family of origin work as part of my training as a family therapist, Pesso’s work reached depths not tapped earlier and reworked issues in ways that created greater integration and self understanding than ever believed possible. It is his ability to tap experience at the earliest developmental levels, along with his ever vigilant stance that is respectful of the ego’s readiness to accept and integrate new information, that makes his work so stunning and transformative. Of special significance to me also was the capacity to incorporate cultural (ethnic/racial) dynamics to the many levels of understanding gained.” Elaine B. Pinderhughes, Professor Emerita, Boston College Graduate School of Social Work.
“I did a number of other structures with Al in the next couple of years: one very angry one in which I vented much of my frustration with my father; one in which my ideal father became playful and humorous; and one tearful one in which I said goodbye to the aspects of my father that I loved. But the first structure I have always carried as a special talisman, and over the next few years it became a metaphor around which I built my struggle to be that kind of man: one who stands firm and strong, and who can bend to nurture. To this group of images I attached all the principles of this kind of maleness, this kind of being; a model toward which I tried, often with difficulty, to live. “ Augustus Napier, Ph.D., renowned family therapist and author of “The Fragile Bond”
At the American Academy of Psychotherapists’ annual conference in New Orleans, fifteen months after my therapy with my AAP family, I asked Al Pesso if I could be the first client in his day-long workshop. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision. I had heard of his work and knew that he was considered an outstanding therapist. A friend described his method as a cross between a Greek chorus and psychodrama, with special emphasis on the body, and that description was intriguing. As is often true of therapy’s effects, it wasn’t until later that I recognized how much I had accomplished. After allowing myself to be held and comforted, I stopped clinging so desperately to Bob’s memory. Mary Goulding, MSW, Co-Founder, Re-Decision Therapy