StreamFlower1Hakomi Mindful Somatic Psychology is a mindfulness, somatic and experience-based  approach to change. The Hakomi Method is used both as a psychotherapeutic process as well as in educational settings to facilitate self-exploration and personal growth.

Originally developed by Ron Kurtz in the late 1970s, the Hakomi Method has developed in scope, detail and teachability over the past 40 years. During this time, many new advances have been integrated into our work by Ron, various Hakomi trainers and numerous practitioners. Today, Hakomi is taught and practiced successfully throughout the world. Here in the Bay Area, with several professional trainings and workshops per year, Hakomi has thrived for more than 30 years.

Hakomi combines venerable operating principles with mindfulness and precise methodology to create an extraordinarily effective path towards transformation. The basis of the work is threefold:

• To create a bonded relationship that allows enough safety for the client to turn inward and explore present experiences (cognitive, somatic, emotional, energetic, spiritual, etc.)
• To follow those experiences towards the core material that generates them
• To pursue ways to heal and evolve the core material

Hakomi, a leader in the use of mindfulness and the body, holds an especially strong somatic orientation. Evoking focused self-awareness, the client is supported to study the ways in which movement, gesture, voice, tensions, impulses and other indicators both reflect psychological material and provide direct access to deep transformation.


The Principles

At the heart of the Hakomi Method is a set of time-honored principles which underlie all aspects of our work. Navigating by these principles, the practitioner approaches both the client and the process with a sense of wholeness, respect, and humility. This framework then translates into concrete clinical skills and thoughtfully designed interventions. Equally important, holding the client in this perspective, the practitioner may then be able to internalize these principles as an ongoing source of inner guidance. 

The principles are:

• Unity: an inclusive awareness of the interrelatedness of things
• Organicity: the recognition and honoring of each person’s individuality
• Mind/Body/Spirit Holism: the assumption that all elements of experience are essential
• Mindfulness: the value of being genuinely aware of exactly what is happening
• Nonviolence: a commitment to respect and loving regard
• Truth: the pursuit of the actual nature of things
• Change: the trust that things can and will move and evolve


The Flow of the Method

While each session and each client are unique, Hakomi offers a clearly articulated flow of process steps:

1. Establish a relationship with the client 
2. Create safety within the relationship and within the client
3. Elicit mindfulness
4. Create experiments to evoke core material  
5. Reveal core material
6. Engage in state-specific processing  
7. Transform limiting beliefs 
8. Integrate new beliefs and behavior
9. Complete the session


1. Establish a relationship with the client

Great care is taken to establish an effective working relationship, marked by safety, curiosity, warmth and mutual engagement. Attending to the attachment and relational styles of the client, the practitioner creates an inviting atmosphere of respect and participation. Such a bond allows the client to feel confident and supported in turning inwards, to pursue the  transformational journey.


2. Create safety within the relationship and within the client

The first task, then, is to build respect and safety. These essential qualities allow for cooperation with the unconscious. In this way, both client and therapist engage a powerful and willing ally in exploring core material and how it shapes one’s experience. Safety must be evoked within the relationship with the therapist as well as evaluated and nurtured within the client.


3. Elicit mindfulness

Once a solid working relationship is created, the therapist establishes and utilizes a distinct state of consciousness we call Mindfulness. Drawn from many different Buddhist traditions and meditation practices, Hakomi employs Mindfulness as a distinct state of mind in which clients can slow down and observe carefully their internal experience. Mindfulness in psychotherapy is characterized by relaxed volition, a gentle and sustained inward focus of attention, heightened sensitivity, and the ability to notice and name the contents of consciousness. The intention is not to detach from what is noticed, but to let this witnessing function provide a platform for internal, psychological preference. The shift in perception provided by Mindfulness is crucial in many stages of the Hakomi process as we engage with a client’s innate capacities for self-discovery and healing. Because the client’s habitual responses are observed but not engaged, unconscious material that arises can be studied, and new experiences can emerge.


4. Create experiments to evoke core material

The heart of the Hakomi Method is the precise study of the client's current experiences, to discover their origins in the unconscious. These experiences may be naturally occurring, or they may be deliberately and gently evoked by having the client participate in carefully designed "experiments”. For example, the client may be invited to notice the effect of standing in a certain way, or the internal impact of a relational exchange. Both verbal and non-verbal, such experiments arise from and are tailored to the theme of the session and the client’s momentary experience. Hakomi experiments often involve the experiences of the body, such as gestures, small movements, changes in breathing, posture and tension. The experiments always include mindfulness, and thus provide a careful study of the impact and meanings of the experience. Pursued in this felt way, events and their causative core material can be spotlighted, summoned, evaluated and transformed.


5. Reveal core material

Core material is comprised of memories, images, beliefs, neural patterns and deeply held emotional dispositions. Typically formed during childhood, this material shapes the styles, habits, behaviors, perceptions and attitudes, which define us as individuals. Our responses to the major themes of life - safety, belonging, support, power, freedom, responsibility, appreciation, sexuality, spirituality, etc. - are all organized by core material.

Some of these responses are expansive, proactive and creative, while others are more habituated, reactive and fear-based. The Hakomi Method allows the client to distinguish between the two, and to change willingly the patterns that constrict his or her innate wholeness.


6. Engage in state-specific processing

Human consciousness is an ongoing river, with various specific states of consciousness providing distinct currents to the flow.  Hakomi attends deliberately to recognizing, evoking, stabilizing and emerging from such states. To do so requires the practitioner to employ specific methods for different states:

1. We work with strong emotions and bound up energy, releasing them gently and mindfully, and helping the client discover the innate vitality and wisdom within them.

2. We work with state-specific memories. That is, a session may include not just cognitively recalled memories, but a present reimmersion in the same state that was experienced while the memory was being formed. Many such moments include the presence of the child State of Consciousness. Often, clients will simultaneously experience both their present day mindful observer and the younger state of perception and feeling that was present when psychological injury took place. Hakomi assists the client in experiencing and studying these pivotal childhood moments so that the client feels safe, curious and ultimately resolved and hopeful in the experience.

3. We also work with traumatic states of consciousness. In differentiating the traumatic state and understanding the explicit neurobiological underpinnings of such activation, the client is guided into modulating their arousal levels.


7. Transform limiting beliefs

The deep, core exploration that Hakomi provides create a more spacious and energizing emotional climate in which clients can begin to experiment with and choose evolved beliefs and behaviors. At the core, the Hakomi practitioner works to establish alternative ways of being for the client, to supplant the limited, habituated and outdated beliefs and behaviors established years ago.

This is accomplished by providing the client with a new experience, one that was missing or impossible when injury happened. Such new experiences may be complex or simple, but generally reflect unmet childhood learning and relational needs: for example, being held, being listened to, being allowed to explore, feeling protected or supported, and so on.

Having such a new experience provides a template for living differently. The encounter with the missing experience creates a new, embodied perspective that can shift the perceptual and thus behavioral reference point for the client. The “old” story is updated, forgiven or transformed. This new experience is a vital point in the therapeutic process and provides motivation for further change.


8. Integrate new beliefs and behavior

This phase of the work integrates newly discovered truths and options with the client’s everyday life. The work here is to stabilize and anchor any positive, powerful new experiences, insights and discoveries.

Eventually, we help the client to practice the new modes of organizing that they adopt, and to integrate these modes into their daily lives. In this phase, Hakomi works somatically to integrate new insights and to anchor them in the body. Similarly, the client is assisted in practicing the new attitudes and behavior, so that they may continue to use them as the basis for their lives.  Living differently is the only real measure of actual change, and it is here, in fact — in the ability to transform the new possibilities discovered in the office into ongoing actualities in daily living — that real change happens.


9. Complete the session

The completion phase allows clients to emerge from the intensity of self-focused inner work, and to orient again towards the outside world. Impasses and discoveries are reviewed, goals are referenced, and future explorations are considered. Great care is taken to be sure the client feels grounded and ready to leave the nest of the process and to navigate again through their next encounters.




The Hakomi Method is an elegant, comprehensive and highly effective approach to human change and development. It was originated in the mid-1970’s by therapist and author Ron Kurtz as the Ron Kurtz Method of Body-Centered Psychotherapy. Drawing from an enormous range of influences - Buddhism and Taoism, physics, body-centered therapies such as Gestalt, Reichian work, the Feldenkrais Method, Bioenergetics, Focusing, NLP and Ericksonian Hypnosis, and General Systems Theory, it synthesized a pioneering approach to somatic psychotherapy, combining mindfulness, gentleness and experiential explorations of client behavior. 

In 1981, recognizing that the work stood on its own, Ron formally changed the name of the work to the Hakomi Method, based on a Hopi Indian word that asks “ how do you stand in relation to these many realms” or, more simply, “who are you?” That same year, Ron and several of his advanced students created the Hakomi Institute, a nonprofit educational corporation whose purpose was to promote the work. 

During the 1980’s, Hakomi expanded in two ways. First, the Method itself continued to evolve, with Ron and the Institute trainers contributing many new or refined elements, articulations and applications of the work. Secondly, the work began to spread geographically, with new staff joining the Institute and new training centers being formed throughout North America, and Europe. One of those centers was the Hakomi Institute of San Francisco, established in the late 1980’s by Dr. Richard Heckler, who had trained in Oregon with Ron, Jon Eisman and Pat Ogden [both  founding members of the Institute].

In 1992, to focus on his own development of the work, Ron separated from the Institute. Since that time, Hakomi has continued to be taught and developed separately by both the Hakomi Institute and it’s many trainers and teachers, and by Ron’s Hakomi Education Network. 

Today, the Hakomi Institute and the work continue to thrive. Exciting new developments in neurobiology, attachment theory, trauma, child development and consciousness studies have all been incorporated into the model. Hakomi remains at the cutting edge of therapeutic theory and technique, while still enjoying its status as an elder in the use of mindfulness and somatics in therapy.

In addition, Institute staff and graduates have taken Hakomi into diverse new directions, including couples work, parenting, working with trauma states, anger management , family dynamics, movement interventions, gender issues, multiculturalism, Selfhood, business consulting, sports performance, ethics, spiritual studies, and coaching.  

The Institute itself has grown into a dynamic network of Training Centers around the globe. Hakomi Professional Trainings and Workshops are now presented across the US, throughout Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. New centers are just arising in Israel and Russia. 

Here in California, this wave of evolution is also evident. In 2008, Dr. Richard Heckler retired as Director of  the Hakomi Institute of San Francisco. Taking over the reins, Hakomi trainers Scott Eaton, Manuela Mischke Reeds, Julie Murphy, Rob Fisher and Jon Eisman created a new Institute branch, the Hakomi Institute of California. Assisted by additional teaching staff, this Teaching team comprises a seasoned and international team of professionals that combine the expertise of the larger psychology field with in-depth knowledge of the Hakomi method and its applications. The the Hakomi Institute of California will continue to present both traditional and new Hakomi and Hakomi-related offerings not only in the Bay area, but throughout the state.

We look forward to having you become a part of our on-going history.