Procedures of transformation in the process of relaxation and symboltherapy

Autor/autores: Magda Szőnyi , Éva Szombathelyi
Fecha Publicación: 25/03/2017
Área temática: Psicología general , Tratamientos .
Tipo de trabajo:  Comunicación


I World Congress 
International Society of Autogenic Training & Psychotherapy

September 20, 2015, Ilustre Colegio Oficial de Medicos
Madrid, Spain

Based on the analysis of basic and advanced level Autogenic Training (Relaxation and Symboltherapy) diaries and reports of AT groups of Magda Szőnyi.

Autogenic Training (Relaxation and Symboltherapy) – regarding their methodological structure- are less free flowing and can seem limited in their form compared to other psychotherapeutic methods. The starting point of psychotherapeutical work is most often a personally experienced problem that is verbally described using the following phrases: „I can’t take it”, „I don’t know”, „I dare not”, „I don’t understand”, „I am helpless”, „I can not...”. So the client presents feeling limited, narrow minded, and carrying a lifeless emptiness when he/she meets the psychotherapist.

According to Schultz, based on his principles of life focus and future-oriented therapeutic goal setting, the explorative and constructive work should be done while releasing our inner potential, that is while transcending our personal borders. Therapeutic work with inner imagery makes us capable in several ways to lead a healthy, productive and harmonic life.
Both standard and advanced Autogenic Training (Relaxation and Symboltherapy), the therapeutic experience of working with symbols and imagery, results in the broadening of the mind and this altered state of consciousness strengthens our awareness and passive/receptive attention.

At the beginning of the psychotherapeutic process, releasing our ingrained fears from childhood (success-failure, good-bad, important -unimportant) and extending receptive attention to accept every feeling, thought, etc... helps to overcome the barriers of self-expression.
The meaning of imagery is expanded through the attribution of personal meaning, the explorative associations, the altering of appellations and by posing new questions.
Throughout the therapeutic process the imperative nature of each standard exercise and imagery expands the receptive attention from the initial problem to highlight another – often obscured- area of life and leads to its interpretation and integration.
The sensations and images that appear in the process are complex and so they bring out forgotten, repressed or unconscious aspects of the given area of life that can be used to gain new insight and to re-evaluate.

The symbolic meaning of the exercises and imagery expands the experience of time and space and makes it possible to explore our inner world and to time-travel to a past or future moment in our lives. These experiences fill and complete our personalities, resulting in an „expanding” sense of the world. The more the person finds him-/herself, the more he/she experiences becoming a part of the whole universe.
Some operations of the required psychological work necessitate the transcending of borders, such as asking for specification in case of a general opinion, the finding of parallels (elsewhere, at other times) to the present manifestations, the verbalizing of imagery experience, the writing down or drawing of expressions, the collecting of linguistic or artistic metaphors, the altering of the aspects of interpretation, etc...

The result of psychotherapy is the experiencing of the already realized, essential and timeless changes that have a lasting value. The conscious use of the principle and operations of transformation helps emphasize the need for change. The definition of ‘to transform’ is to change in form, appearance, or structure; to metamorphose. In relaxation and symboltherapies transformation is always a leading principle and important tool, as the structure of the method leaves a variety of possibilities for it.

Participation in the therapeutic work outlined above enables the client to live his/her life healthily to its fullest potential both for him-/herself and his/her environment.

In relaxation and symboltherapies transformation is always a leading principle and important tool, as the structure of the method leaves a variety of possibilities for this.

A/ The force of the instructions and trigger words (images) and the expected psychological work is a continuous transformation: wording > bodily sensations > inner imagery > verbal expression > written recording or other, e.g. drawing > associations, attribution of personal meaning, and comparison to memories > referencing these later on.

B/ Transformation generated by continuous practice: through continuous individual practice of the same instructions the contents of the above operations change and the meaning and process of this change should be examined.

C/ The instruction itself is often about transformation (e.g. becoming bigger-smaller, more solid-more flexible, paste, pass through, enter, etc..)

D/ The thematic structure, the imperative nature and order of instructions should be organized based on the therapeutic goal.

E/ The change in perspective, the organization of values, the exploration of inner possibilities, the need for establishing both inner and outer harmony and the acceptance of personal responsibility in this process must be enforced throughout the therapeutic process and in the mode of the interpretation/elaboration of experiences.

Transformation (Latin):

Alter the form or appearance of something or someone – to change/to make a change.
Mathematics (Geometry): Functions which map points of a pre-image onto its image is called transformation.
Transz: through- , over-, accross-
Form: shape; to form: to shape, to change, to create; formation: corps
Transformer: an apparatus for reducing or increasing the voltage of an alternating current
Metamorphosis (Greek):
The shapeshifting of the Greek gods or the process through which insects and some plants transform from an immature form to an adult form and into a completely new shape.
The complete and total change of someone’s looks or personality.
Alternations: day and night
high and low tide
Moon phases
planetary orbits
Good rythm
It is time to…..
It’s time!

Changes in the physical states of matter: depends on the environmental temperature and pressure. Thawing
Frost resistance
Home creation
Course/procession: leaving and arriving
birth and death
Follow through
Swim (against the current)
Crises: air element: storm
water element: flood, tide
fire element: conflagration
earth element: földrengés
Presence of mind /sangfroid
Value salvation

The main point of psychotherapy is the experiencing of the essential, timeless and already implemented changes that have a lasting value. The conscious use of the principles and procedures of transformation helps to emphasize the requirement of change (to change- to make a change). The definition of ‘to transform’ is to change in form, appearance, or structure; to metamorphose.

Tools to help bring about transformation in relaxation and symboltherapies:
Instructions and trigger words (images) themselves initiate transformations:
The experiences and the resulting psychological work make transformations in progress continuous.
Principles for the formulation of instructions:
should not be limiting/constrictive
welcome all experiences
pay attention to bring every experience to conscious awareness

Instructions induce some form of inner experience (even if it is „nothing”)
Bodily sensations can be transformed into images (e.g. focusing, current state imagery)
Experiences can be transformed into words
Verbal expressions can be recorded in writing
Experiences can also be visualized and recorded as drawings, etc...
Sensations, experiences and imagery can be paired with associations, be given personal meaning and be compared to memories
Referencing can be used to find parallels with other stages of the therapeutic process

The power of practice in the generation of transformations:
As the method is based on the principle of autogeny, the individual practice between therapeutic sessions, writing a journal and finding associations are integral parts of the therapeutic process.

The imperative nature of instructions is often about transformation:
e.g. exercises of bodily awareness (becoming bigger-smaller, more solid-more flexible), the procedures of imagery, such as insert, get through, change/transform, etc...

Compilation of the thematic structure (collecting and organizing the trigger images/words to meet the therapeutic goals)
e.g..: opening up
loosening up
prevailing over /overcoming sg
bringing sg into conscious awareness
self-control etc...

Throughout the therapeutic process, the following objectives should be enforced to help bring about the necessary transformations:
changing one’s point of view
arranging of values
bringing out inner possibilities
creating inner-outer harmony
acceptance of personal responsibility for oneself etc...


Translation from Hungarian to English: Zsófia Budai

Palabras clave: relaxation, symboltherapy


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