“Through focusing words, we guide the cognition to a deeper consciousness to enter into a clear experience of one’s self. We then use this self to self relationship as the basis upon which to build all our other relationships. Functional Analysis is the meeting place between psyche and soma. The body and mind always work together – in both health and in illness.” Will Davis
What is Functional Analysis?
In recent years my clinical research and therapeutic practice has been based in particular on a Reichian approach developed by Will Davis, called Functional Analysis.
A body-psychotherapy approach with a gentle touch, that does not push and doesn’t force.
It starts from the principle of physics that the response of a living organism is proportional to the stimulus. The minimum stimulus below the stress and pain threshold, below the limits in which the body becomes alert, has a great effect, sometimes greater than a strong stimulus. Increasing intensity of pressure can cause an inversely proportional effect. The stronger the pressure, the more it can be perceived as intrusive, excessive, with the possibility that the alert and the tension mechanisms of the body reactivate. With a rhythmic, light pressure, which remains below the threshold of tolerance and alarm, the stimulus is perceived as an interaction, an invitation to the expansion of a movement from within. It may arise as a slow and deep release that works together with the contractions and defences from the inside. This facilitates the abandonment and the surrender of the organism to its internal rhythm of self-organisation. Once, many of the physical and body-psychotherapies worked on the muscles and tried to release tension by mechanical force. The most common method to release muscle contraction was to physically force the muscle to open and relax, by stretching it or with an initial application of strong pressure on the contracted area.
In the Functional Analysis approach we don’t work against contracted muscles, but we support the contraction, recognising its usefulness in the system of structuring the body’s defences. The energy of contraction is sustained, the action of contraction is replicated, according to the homeopathic principle of treating like with like. This creates a neuromuscular response that releases contraction spontaneously. In this way it is possible to work below the muscular system, to dialogue with the nervous system and to reach the body at the plasmatic and connective level; the deeper and primary level.
Recent biophysical research has revealed that primacy of the role of the connective tissue in transmitting information through the whole body and in holding and reprocessing stress.
Functional Analysis uses the principle that the connective tissue changes shape in response to physical stimuli. Every physical movement, every contact, every pressure transfers energy and changes the connective tissue status. When the tissue is touched, the mechanical vibrations produce electric waves and if the movement or touch is repeated over time, it will generate an increasingly stronger electrical emission. A therapeutic touch, calm, slow, rhythmic, attentive, in resonance with the person touched, creates new experiences e.g. it releases pain, tension and sends this information to cells and brain, restructuring and developing a restorative healing process.
Furthermore, with the touch warmth is passed, physical and human, which favours a thawing at all levels, particularly in contracted and cold character structures. The touch of the therapist stimulates this process of melting and sometimes with the release of restrained movements, emerge feelings and memories that were trapped there. It is also possible, because of the property of the connective tissue to transmit energy throughout the whole body. That tension or relaxation manifests itself in different places from where the person is touched
The treatment is called Points and Positions and it is not a massage nor a manipulation, it happens through the pressure on specific areas and points of the body. The points touched and stimulated are often found at the insertion of the muscles and occasionally in the connective tissue formed in the muscle itself. The other technique is that of positioning. With this technique, selected parts of the body are positioned and painless compressions are applied to increase the already existing contraction. From an energetic point of view, the muscle is now artificially kept in its “safe” contracted state by the therapist’s hands. A message is transmitted to the nervous system: “now the contraction is no longer necessary”.
I have emphasised the physical aspects of Functional Analysis, but the approach is much broader. Both the verbal and physical technique shifted the attention to the inward movement of the pulsations (INSTROKE) more than the outward movements (expression and discharge) to bring the client, below the defences, to his centre, to meet his essential Self.
If you would like to know more about the work, visit the Functional Analysis website