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Hello and welcome to the autumn edition of the US PBSP Association newsletter!  Often a colorful reminder of the power of nature, autumn is a time that can evoke differing symbolic meaning for each of us -- perhaps of nurture, conservation, preservation, comfort or letting go. For me it certainly evokes change and I'm very pleased to be publishing our newsletter at the start of this season particularly because we've made some changes to this month's newsletter, aimed at promoting continued dialogue and understanding around the theory and practice of PBSP.  We’ve tried to bear in mind that readers likely come from varying levels of experience (from students to licensed practitioners) so we hope the expanded content and topics are interesting for all of you.  We especially hope that the open dialogue, through the use of direct links to our website forum, will help foster an open interchange of learning and sharing within our community.

As before, you'll find news of upcoming PBSP events and workshops being held nationally, as well as information on international happenings worth noting.  We very much hope you enjoy this latest edition and as always, we welcome your feedback and engagement.  Any comments, suggestions, issues or submissions can be directed to me at the following address:

Warmest good wishes

Hazel Latoza
USPBSPA Newsletter Editor

A Note from the President:

This issue of the USPBSPA newsletter represents the terrific volunteer efforts of our newsletter editor, Hazel Latoza.  She had the vision of making the newsletter something really interesting and important to read and a vehicle for promoting dialogue within the larger PBSP community.  When you read this edition of our newsletter I think you will all agree with me that Hazel has developed a great format for our newsletter to be much more than just announcements for future events!  Enjoy, and our thanks go out to Hazel for her very valuable contribution to the future of PBSP in the United Sates. 

In addition to the below links to the Forum pages of our website, our Resources section is also being continuously updated.  I recently added a wonderful statement by Harvard Professor, Martha Stark, giving tribute to Albert Pesso's legacy and a transcript of her great talk in Minneapolis at the 2005 International PBSP Conference.  Click here to go to our Resources page (after you've read our Newsletter of course!)

Jim Amundsen
USPBSPA President

A Holding for Basic Needs Exercise around Support

Gus Kaufman, Ph.D.

In the group I co-lead on Tuesday nights, I open with a PBSP exercise every other week (my co-therapist leads a guided meditation on her week). Twice a year we do daylongs to deepen the work—each client gets a structure spot on those days.

This past daylong I opened with holding for support. First I had group members in pairs do the arm lift, noting when they tended to “help,” i.e. automatically lift their own arm vs. give their weight to the lifter. They repeated this, practicing letting go (trust).

The new part was I then had each take a turn sitting on the lap of another. This was earth-shaking! With some of my most deeply holes-in-roles folks I had to really challenge them. I explained that if you have had to hold yourself from an early age, you are likely convinced you are too heavy and no one could bear your weight.

At least one client burst into tears with this exercise. It confirmed for me that while the verbal memory is constantly updated, so that we are usually in an adult ego state, the body memory is often frozen in the deep past. And this affects our life possibilities. Some clients could not remember ever being held and supported.

With experimentation we discovered that sitting sideways allowed deeper relaxation—the client could drop her head onto the accommodator’s shoulder.

A caution—it requires a good bit of group trust to do this without rebellion or dissociation.

I welcome others to try this and report what your experiences are.

Please click here to share your experiences and comments with Gus on our Newsletter Forum page.  

While there, do also take a look at our General Discussion Forum (link here) where you'll find a recent post from Dee Wagner titled Chi for Two (PBSP, Polyvagal theory and developmental dances).  All member levels are free to create and initiate posts on the General Dicussion Forum.  Don't forget to subscribe!

Your questions answered by experienced PBSP practitioners. 

(All Q&A topics appear in our website Forum where you will have access to the full response and opportunity to join the dialogue.  Please send your questions, ideas and topic suggestions for our next publication to:

Reader Question:

As a beginner student of PBSP (and currently non practitioner) there seems to be a lot of moving parts to the PBSP structure. I understand there's the tracking component which observes and reflects what is happening for the client in the here and now (use of place holders, witnessing, voices amongst others). I have trouble moving from there; linking what's happening in the present with the past. I understand the concept of movies but I think I'm referring to before you even get to making movies. I'm referring to where you're witnessing and reflecting and bringing the present to light... and then what? Are you always looking out for ideals? Keeping in the back of the mind how the ideal would have been if basic needs had been met?  As experienced practitioners, what generally tends to happen or how do you approach linking the present to the past? And finally… is this a stupid question?!

Answer from Jim Amundsen:

First, let me assure you that there is no such thing as a “dumb” question in learning PBSP psychotherapy.  Even for me, after over 30 years of learning and practicing this method, something often will strike me as “new” about what I’ve already learned.

One of my first training workshops was with Diane Boyden Pesso and I remember her saying, “Forget all the fancy stuff Al does.  A structure is basically an ideal parent exercise.”  To me this means that in your attempts to organize your thoughts and observations while leading a structure, never forget that your ultimate goal is to lead the client to a point of readiness to take in ideal parents.  This is generally referred to as, “making a reversal.”  A reversal is a reversal of a developmental history where a basic need was chronically left in an unsatisfactory state of satisfaction.  These frustrating, unsatisfying and sometimes terrifying experiences in our developmental histories are often revealed most clearly in the “voices.”  People are not conscious, generally speaking, of their voices.  Voices are like the person’s internal traffic laws, e.g., come to stop at a red light.  In our first 5 years of development, we learn 10’s of thousands of such rules without knowing that we are learning them.  

Thus, as you are microtracking a client (witnessing) 99% of the time voices will come up.  For example, a new client of mine was fearful to speak in her first session.  She kept asking me, “What should I talk about.”  To which I would respond, “whatever is most on your mind.”  She left the first session in an extreme state of frustration and anger towards me.  In the second session I suggested it would be important to find her words around what made her so upset.  She revealed that she had been adopted and always felt like it was her job to be a “fixer.”  This meant to her, to solve other people problems.  This was a voice, “It’s your job to fix other people’s troubles.”  I was able to interpret to her, “No wonder you were so upset when I didn’t have an agenda for you because than you couldn’t figure out how to fix me by giving me what I want.”  This led to another voice, “don’t have needs.” 

The PBSP therapist takes statements like these and compares them to the ideal, where all basic needs are ok and where kids should grow up with a sense of confidence that if she were to need something like love, support, protection, and so on, that she can make those needs known and that they will be met.  The reversal for the voice, "it's your job to fix other people's problems," would be to have ideal parents who made it clear that it wasn't her job to fix other people's problems.  In this client's case things were more complicated. 

Click  here to read Jim’s complete response to our reader question in our Forum page.

Please refer to the Events page of the USPBSPA website: for more information about our training events.  There maybe more events added in the 2018-19 calendar year so do check the Events page for updates. 


A new training program led by Pam Dickson White, MA Counseling, LCSW, LPC will begin in Ashevile next month. The program will be offered over three weekends from October 2018 to March 2019, and is open to all levels of PBSP practitioners from beginners to advanced.

To enroll or for further information please contact Pam White:

Phone: 828 274-5757   e-mail:

Participants will develop and enhance their skill and knowledge as PBSP therapists. This hands-on, experiential program will consist of theory, exercises, demos and supervision.  Interested therapists will be assisted in developing a personal plan of training and development leading to certification as a PBSP therapist.

Each weekend will be three days beginning Friday 9:00 am and ending Sunday 4:00 pm

DATES                                    TOPICS

October 26-28, 2018               Development of True Scene, Historical scene, Need Deficits

January 25-27, 2019               Recognizing and working with Holes-in –Roles

March 29-31, 2019                  Identifying and treating Trauma patterns using PBSP principles

FEE:   $450/weekend (or $400/weekend if attending all three weekends)

LOCATION: Asheville Center for Group and Family Therapy
1270 Hendersonville Road, Suite #8
Asheville, N.C.  28803

Pam White is a certified Pesso Boyden Psychomotor Therapist, Supervisor and Trainer in Training.  She trained with Al Pesso from 1990 to 2015.  Pam is a Certified Transactional Analyst and has conducted monthly training and supervision programs in Transactional Analysis and Redecision Therapy since 1985.

Guest Faculty: PBSP Trainers: Robbin McInturff (Oct), Gus Kaufman (Jan), Debbie Willbur (Mar)

17Clock hours available:  Asheville Center for Group and Family Therapy is an approved continuing education provider (ACEPtm) and may offer NBCC clock hours for events that meet NBCC requirements.  The ACEP is responsible for all aspects of this program.



Pesso Boyden System Psychomotor Therapy is a powerful, gentle method of emotional re-education and healing (see

            16 November 2018 9:30am to 5pm and 17 November 2018 9:00am to 4:30pm


1151 Sheridan Rd. NE
Atlanta, GA 30324

By popular demand, PBSP Trainers Gus Kaufman, PhD and Deborah Ann Willbur, LCSW will be offering this 2-day PBSP Structure/Training Workshop.  While we will lecture and teach some of the core elements of PBSP, the workshop will mostly be experiential.  This format offers the opportunity to both develop skills to assist clients toward deeper therapeutic healing and the opportunity to do personal work.  There is no maximum number of attendees, however we are offering a limit of six 45-minute learning/structure slots.  These can be used for personal structures or supervision leading structures or practicing experiential components of PBSP (i.e., learning to witness). 

 Therapists of all disciplines are welcomed, from advanced PBSP practitioners to those brand new who maybe curious about PBSP psychotherapy.

Cost for the workshop is $250.00. Learning/structure slots are an additional $75.00.

Continuing education credits will be applied for.

To register, please complete the registration form (linked here) and mail to Gus Kaufman, Ph.D. at 317 W. Hill St. Decatur, GA 30030 along with a $100.00 deposit (refundable up until October 15, 2018). Final payment due by November 4, 2018.

For questions, please contact Gus Kaufman, PhD:  404.371.9171, extension 2 or Deborah Willbur, LCSW:

Five Day PBSP Training 2019 (Lutsen, MN)

USA Trainer, and USPBSPA President, Jim Amundsen led a 5 day training retreat on the north shore of Lake Superior in June of this year.  All  participants were universal in their praise for the venue and location, with it’s “away from it all” retreat setting.  The Lutsen Resort was a wonderful host for the event, and was the perfect setting for learning and honing PBSP psychotherapeutic methods and theory.  Some of the attendees were accompanied by family members who enjoyed the resort and surrounds while loved ones attended training.  Everyone expressed a desire to return next year so do save these dates!

Lutsen, MN: June 10 – 14, 2019. Led by Jim Amundsen.  Cost $550. 

If you want to get on this new tradition, sign-up early for additional information as group size is limited.  Please contact Jim Amundsen directly at 651-649-0984 or

New Training group forming in San Diego, CA

We're pleased to announce the formation of a new training group in San Diego, led by Dr Aimee Pearson, PsyD, and her colleagues.  The first training dates with Jim Amundsen as trainer will be held in October 19-21, 2018.  Maximum capacity has been reached for this training group, however enquiries for future training or events in San Diego can be directed to Dr. Pearson or Maya Heffernan at

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