AN INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR AND COUNSELOR, ANDY ROMAN
While gathering informative articles exploring the topic of forgiveness, we were rightfully reminded of the valuable role forgiveness plays in our healing and wellness. In the following conversation with Andy Roman, where we explore the psychology of healing, the undeniable connection between forgiveness and healing surfaces again.
Andy has served as a mind/body psychotherapist at Hippocrates since 1990, practicing and teaching radical feeling-centered, body-focused awareness tools to help our guests and health educators. He conducts private sessions with individuals, couples and families and also facilitates our ongoing, successful Healing Circle Therapy and Support Group.
While we’re all aware of the obvious benefits of physical healing, the integral value of psychological healing can easily be overlooked. Let’s begin our conversation with your thoughts on the importance of the psychological aspect of healing.
I believe the psychological/emotional component is paramount in the healing process. Neither disease nor wellness happen in a vacuum; they happen in the context of our humanity. Therefore, unwinding the human dramas of pain as the person holds them in his body is central to unlocking the healing response.
In your practice of helping individuals on the path towards psychological healing, where do you begin when counseling someone in the difficult position of battling disease?
I begin counseling, always, with what I refer to as a deep feeling approach. I’ve written a book, Deep Feeling, Deep Healing: the Heart Mind, and Soul of Getting Well, in which I describe my deep feeling approach in theory and technique very specifically. In a nutshell, I believe disease portrays a pantomimed version of something unconscious—either repressed (once known and now hidden), or still unknown (never known and still hidden) Consciousness is the cure.
I base my work on a holistic triune brain model, which has strong implications for how the body/mind system processes, and often stores, pain and trauma in what I call “Pockets of Unconsciousness” within the body. These dark areas, often located in disease-related areas of the body, carry muscular contractive, self-protective states that inhibit proper oxygen flow, cellular nitrification and waste removal. My job is to help remove those internalized hindrances by helping the person connect to feelings and bring in the light of love and reality. When a person has deep integrative experiences, those pockets disappear and the system normalizes hormonally, neuromuscularly and mentally.
I look specifically for the body response, the emotional response and the meaning response in how my client portrays his or her experience of the world. These elements clue me in to the nature of what carries the most importance and the most emotional charge and, therefore, the most likelihood of ushering in new awareness. My focus is to help a person become unrepressed and fully feeling. At that point, all the energy that went into staying unconscious can be liberated and the mind/body’s natural move towards health can proceed unhindered.
Please share your thoughts on the following familiar topics surrounding the process of healing:
1. HEALING THE PAST
These are the main psychological hurdles that plague the psyche until they are resolved. Most present pain has its roots in past pain, from a time when we, as kids, didn’t have that many resources to deal with both difficult and not-so-difficult life events. Often, an adult person utilizes the same coping strategies based on the same conclusions they came to when they were little. Those childhood strategies must be replaced because the body needs to be updated. The person can then awaken to the present moment— not just intellectually, but viscerally and emotionally. That’s what updates the body and alters the body’s response. That’s what makes a body no longer a suitable host for disease.
2. I DON’T “DO” DISEASE TYPE THOUGHTS
I’ve seen denial or refusal to be sick work favorably, sometimes. I’ve also seen those same decisions as symptoms of self-delusion which wasn’t in the best interest of the patient when considering the big picture. In my opinion, there’s no single formula here.
A roll-over-and-die attitude never helps. A healthy state of surrender is the best– that’s a balanced combination of “fight-like-hell” and “accept what I cannot change.” Again, there’s never a single formula, but rather guidelines with which one navigates the changing waters of dealing with an illness.
I’m convinced that inner visualization helps—especially when the visions come from within, as in dreams, for instance. To listen to soothing sounds and have someone else suggest images of waterfalls or something soothing, in my opinion, has limited benefits. But hey, if it helps, I’m for it. For those who have never let themselves relax and enjoy, it may be just be the thing. When I use inner imagery, I try to make it open-ended so the person comes up with their own soothing imagery.
5. THE POWER OF A HEALING ENVIRONMENT
The subtle influences of the environment, especially the social and emotional environment, often play a huge role in triggering stress responses, and therefore, they’re powerful. These same invisible factors of the environment can be rallied for the good. At Hippocrates, we demonstrate them in a positive way through the Healing Circle (support group) and the general pervading sense of unity and community at every stage of a guest’s stay. An optimal healing environment makes room for a person to face and feel any unresolved issues of life, relationship and self-worth in a loving, accepting milieu in additional to direct human encounter in the here and now.
Self-esteem is like the keel of a boat. With a good one, even storms can be well-navigated. With a poor one, or none, a person can capsize even in the shallowest of waters. Good self-esteem can serve as a great tool in getting well, and let’s face it, especially when you’re sick, it pays to be your own best friend.
Laughter is pain unmasked—a great healer. Laughter does a body good.
8. PRAYER AND MEDITATION
Prayer speaks the quiet language of connection. With heart, prayer can unlock the body’s errors.
What are your thoughts on a few of the currently popular healing and wellness theories?
“Your biography determines your biology.” (Carolyn Myss, PhD) The first principle of psychoneuroimmunology states that “Whatever is out there, goes in; and whatever is in there, comes out,” which is to say that our experiences when we’re young preset the wiring of our nervous system and, basically, lay down the foundation of how we experience everything. I strongly believe that the body follows what is in the heart and mind. How we each hold it is how
it is, for us.
“What you think about and internalize is what manifests.” (Wayne Dyer) I do believe that the conscious mind can influence outcomes and what manifests, but I believe it’s more those areas about which we are unconscious that determine what comes to us in life. Therefore, it behooves one to be conscious!
“Your mind is in every cell of your body.” (Candice Pert, PhD) Based on Ms.Pert’s discovery of
the network of neuropeptides which carry emotionally tagged information throughout the body, moment to moment, like a vast virtual library of biologically encoded memory, it is clear that our unconscious mind is the body. We can no longer talk about the mind as some sort of disembodied entity—it’s literally
INTERVIEWED BY BY RENEE DELEON | HOW: FORGIVENESS