Glossary of PBSP Terms


Accommodation – The act of a role player responding  in a way that matches and satisfies the impulses and actions requests of the client in a structure/

Negative Accommodation – the act of responding accurately, congruently and appropriately, with sounds of pain and movements indicating the landed impact of a blow, kick or other angry expression directed by a client in a structure (without literal physical contact) toward a remembered hated, aspect of a negative historical figure.

Positive Accommodation – the act of responding accurately, congruently and appropriately with words, movement and touch to satisfy the expressed needs of a client in a structure.

Antidote – The healing (antidotal) interaction provided by the ideal figures to counter the toxic effects of the negative history experienced with the original historic figures.  The antidote usually provides directly opposite or contrasting elements found in the negative event.  For instance, if the original parents were alcoholic, then the ideal parents would be sober; if the originals were abusive, the ideals would be respectful and loving, etc.

Basic Needs – People have five basic emotional needs: place,  nurturance (oral/tactile), support, protection, and limits. Basic needs  must be satisfied by parents during childhood in order for a child’s ego to develop and for the child to be and become his or her true self.

Place – The provision to a child of a literal and then psychological/metaphoric place in the body of the mother, then lives, hearts and minds of both parents. This is first provided by the uterus, then after birth by the arms of the parents and rooms available in the homes of the parents.  In later years this translates into Psychological spaces such as the heart and minds of the parents. The provision of place recognizes the value of the child in having a right to live in the world as the child actually is.  It implies the child being “seen” and valued for what it is and not over-run as if it were not present.

Nurturance – The act of caring for those infant needs that literally sustain life – such as nursing, feeding, grooming, washing, petting, caressing, etc.  In later years this translates or transposes into symbolic feeding and grooming in a way that Psychologically sustains life – such as giving “strokes”, valuing, appreciating, admiring, etc.

Support – The act of supporting and carrying about an infant too young to hold itself upright and move about.  The arms and laps of the parents provide this support.  In later years this translates into Psychological support, as in “backing” up, or standing behind”, etc.

Protection – The act of defending the soft vulnerability of an infant against physical injury by parents providing the hard shield of their own bodies between the infant and possible contact or impact with hard or dangerous surfaces.  In later years this translates into Psychological defense or protection, as in blocking verbal or Psychological injury.

Limits – The act of physically restraining or constraining the infant or older child from doing damage to itself, others or valuable objects.  In later years this translates into verbal or Psychological limits.

Center of Truth – The position from which the client is in touch with all the internal information about their personal existence that is available for consciousness and experience.  The polar elements found there include emotional information regarding moment to moment affective states (inherited personal aspects – the soul) and information regarding values, attitudes and injunctions resulting from experience during significant, life shaping events (individual learned aspects – the ego).

Contact Figure – A symbolic role played fragment figure who is called upon when the client has more feelings showing on the body level than appear to be comfortably experienced and contained.  The contact figure places hands or body parts against those distressed surfaces.

Cycle of Becoming – Energy->Action->Interaction->Meaning – The four major steps which constitute the way we ideally process the emotional experiences that happen to us.  In the first step (Energy), we have an emotional feeling and body response to the experience.  Second (Action), we express our feelings.  Third  (Interaction), we interact with the type of people toward whom the emotion seeks to be expressed.  Fourth (Meaning), we create a conscious and/or unconscious prediction model regarding how to anticipate and handle similar situations in the future.

Ego – The Psychological boundaries of a person (skin of the self) created through interactions with significant others.  It “decides” what to let in and what to put out in terms of historical learning and patterns.  It attempts to define and assess reality.  It “chooses” what is manifested as the “I.”  It is conditioned by cultural and historic events.  It works with symbols and abstractions.  Source of consciousness.  It is the Psychological organ which makes differentiatiations such as: self and other, reality and fantasy, dream and awake, etc.

Ego-Wrapping – The act of applying consciousness, names, acceptance, and place on a portion of the soul/self when it makes an appearance in a structure by a witness figure, an ideal figure, or a permission giving figure, etc.

Enactor – The person who is having the structure, also referred to as the “client” or the “Protagonist”

Energy – The source of emotional behavior showing up in structures as shifts in physical sensations such as tension, pain, heat, etc.

Fragment Figure – A figure that is just a fragment of what was originally a highly complex figure.  For instance, a containing figure would be a fragment of what would be a quality in an ideal figure such as an ideal mother or ideal father.  Or a reproaching figure would be a fragment of what might have been included in a negative father.  The fragments are easier and more precisely used rather than applying the entire complexity of those rather monolithic total figures.  Includes: contact, limiting, and resistance figures.

Ideal Figure – Figures role played by group members that would be so constructed as to match the needs of a client in a structure so that those needs can be symbolically experienced and satisfied.

Ideal Father – The wished for, missing father with attributes that were longed for in ones’ childhood, role played by a group member.

Ideal Mother – The wished for, missing mother with attributes that were longed for in one’s childhood, role played by a group member.

Law of Opposites – This takes notice of the frequent reversals found in life and showing up in structures, such as: shape/countershape – the countershape is opposite the shape; antidoting – where the healing is done by reversing the factors of abuse and neglect; revenge – where the person wishes to reverse the attack and make it become what the attacker experiences at the hands of the victim, etc.

Limiting Figure – A symbolic figure role played by a group member applied to helping the client with non ego-wrapped energies.  When a client is feeling out of control with anger or sexuality, the limiting figure holds the client in such a way as to allow the impulses to be felt in the body and then those movements and efforts can be pushed against or towards the limiting figures who keep that potential action from reaching the wished for or taboo figures.  They allow the experience and feeling of the energy but not the negative or destructive consequences to occur.

Map – The combination of memory and emotions that result in specific patterns of perception and response to present events associated with historical events which shaped the personality.

Omnipotence – The feeling of unlimited and unstoppable power or openness resulting from a history of absence of parenting or ego-constructing figures during important developmental stages.

Remapping – The creation of antidotal symbolic events during structures which may offset the life negating, negative patterns of perception and response created by traumatic events.

Place – A basic need of having a place with a right to live in the universe.  The first experienced place is the mother’s womb.  The experience of place always includes being within an accepting, respecting, protecting receptacle, such as the womb, followed by being in the heart, mind and life of another.

Polar Qualities – The two basic modes of human means for interacting with the world: action and receptivity.  Everyone, male and female, has the capacity for feeling and expressing both types of polar qualities.

Possibility Sphere – A Psychological space within which the client is invited to work.  It is an empty space that invites the client to bring out the portions of the self that have been in hiding and never before consciously known, named, validated, and internalized into the ego.

Power – One of the polarities of the soul.  Represents the active, massive qualities of the client which can make an impact on the outer world both for beneficial and harmful ends.

Resistance Figure – A symbolic figure used to make contact with a client’s motions when the motion is just at the verge of further expression, but withheld from action due to fear or doubt about the extent or consequences of the action which would follow from the interior state experienced.  The resistance figure does not stop the action but gives some resistance to the action, at the very least “ego-wrapping” that action to some extent – giving it a kind of preparatory countershape of consciousness and control.

Self – What a person has become.  What is perceived as a person’s identity and personality.  The “I” may or may not be congruent with the true self.  (Also, referred to as “What I Call Me”)

Self/Self Interaction – The kinds of self contact during structures which suggests a history which taught that gratification of basic needs from others would not be available during those developmental stages when it should have been forthcoming from caretaking figures.

Self/Other Interaction – The antidote experience for deprivation of needs which is the aimed for in structures.

Shape/countershape – If the shape is the emotion/action of a client, then the countershape is the wished-for, satisfying response the that emotion/action.

Sharing Time – The period immediately following the structure when the group members are invited to share their own experience and emotions which were stimulated by watching the structure.  It is not a time for feedback, analysis, or confrontation. with the or toward the client who just worked.

Soul – The innate, central qualities of the personality arising from the genes, including the polarities of power and vulnerability.

Structure Leader – The therapist or person who is overseeing and facilitating the structure, providing the possibility sphere, the information about the body that will be used by the witness figure, the frames within which the work will be done, the review of the accommodation process, etc.  Some therapists refer to this role as the “Guide”.

Structures – The primary therapeutic vehicle in PBSP Psychotherapy.  In an interactional structure an individual client under the supervision of a PBSP therapist uses group members to play role figures to create interactional settings.  Negative figures are used to create the opportunity to re-experience painful events from the past and to discharge feelings of pain and anger.  Ideal  figures are used to provide (on a symbolic level) the positive experiences that were deficient in a person’s history.

True Self – A person’s human potential.  What a person would become under ideal physical, emotional, and societal circumstances.  The true self constantly reacts to the events in a person’s life, although the person may not be consciously aware of this reaction.

Unmet Needs -A state of emotional deprivation which occurs  when a person does not have one or more of  the four basic emotional needs met adequately during their childhood.

Validation – The act of sanctioning, approving, and accepting as good an emotional quality that is being manifested.  One of the two major functions of parents is to validate the positive, healthy, emotional qualities that their children display.

Violation – An event or person which overcomes the function of ego to control what comes inside a person and what goes out.  It may be emotional, such as humiliation, or physical, such as beatings.

Voice of Dissociation – Symbolic figure role played by group member who is called upon when clients speak about feeling out of their body, without feeling, etc.  This voice then speaks as if giving that injunction to do so, converting what is a reflexive situation to stress to a command, as if from the outside.

Voice of Negative Prediction – The symbolic role played figure that announces and speaks aloud (no longer just representing the client’s own thoughts, but as if from the outside, representing the events or figures who condition the client to feel that way) the client’s negative expectations about their future and near future.

Voice of Truth – Role played figure who represents and repeats back basic truths or values that the client seems affected by, controlled by or leading their lives by, such as, “There is no way to be a man and also to cry.”  The voice of truth, although lived by, is usually counter to felt levels of affect.

Vulnerability – One of the polarities of the soul.  Represents the receptive, non-moving qualities of the client which can react and by affected by the outside world, both for beneficial and harmful ends.

Witness Figure – A symbolic, caring, compassionate figure role played by a group member who sees and responds to the affective states in a client and gives them names, dimensions, license, and blessing.