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The Controlled Approach and the Levang Inventory of Family Experiences® (LIFE)

  • 26 May 2019 8:17 AM
    Message # 7430988

    From: Curt Levang, Ph.D., PBSP Trainer

    PBSP in Practice (May 2019 USPBSPA Newsletter)


    I am pleased to say that "Endlessly Becoming" proved to be a wonderful experience: a time of learning, sharing, gathering and continuing in our journey of becoming. Thank you to all for your contributions.

    The two training experiences I led at the conference were a "controlled approach" exercise and a presentation on the origins and use of the LIFE instrument. Following is a synopsis of these sessions:

    Controlled Approach

    Our mind has an intimate relationship with space. This can be seen in our vocabulary and the many feelings words relating to space. We feel close, distant, withdrawn, on top of the world, connected, etc. There are three dimensions of feeling space: expansion and contraction, surface and depth, and the dynamic-frozen dimension.

    Expansion and contraction:

    When we are feeling good, we are generally more expansive in our thinking, more inclined to move outward rather than inward, and able to take on more of the world without hesitation. However, when we are on the opposite end we feel compressed, small, and even that someone is breathing down our neck.

    Surface and depth:

    Depth and surface are not two-dimensional. Instead the feeling space can be described as shallow or flat, versus feeling vivid, filled, or substantive.


    Dynamic spaces represent feelings about moving, getting somewhere, or advancing. A frozen space is about getting stuck, mired, or getting nowhere.

    Controlled approach is a spacial experiential exercise that helps us recognize our physical boundary with others. This exercise is done in pairs, with one person taking the role of “controller” and the other individual the “controllee.” Throughout the exercise there is no dialogue, rather the controller orchestrates all movement of the controllee with hand signals. Also, the pair does not make eye contact so as to ensure that the controller can direct their energy towards the goal, i.e., finding the right boundary or space between self and others.

    To start, the pair stands 10 to 15 feet apart from each other. The controller focuses on the controllee and slowly motions for them to come forward, stop, or move backward. The controller continues in this approach and retreat manner until they become aware of what distance feels right and comfortable. Meanwhile the controllee has paid close attention to the hand signals and moved as directed. The controllee does not look directly at the controller, but rather looks above their shoulder.

    The controlled approach is just that, a slow, focused effort at determining the physical distance at which we feel comfortable with others. Finding that right boundary or space in the here and now allows the controller to become viscerally aware of their comfort level when relating to others.

    The "controlled approach" is one of the many experiential exercises used to teach PBSP theory.

    The Levang Inventory of Family Experiences® (LIFE)

    I developed the LIFE out of my recognition that there needed to be a mechanism for measuring one's attainment of the 5 basic needs. The process for developing, beta testing, and statistically analyzing several iterations of the instrument took many years. To provide a glimpse of the LIFE, I rely on a video of shape/counter-shape/contra-shape to show how PBSP works, how individuals develop a healthy ego or a fragile ego, and how antidotes provide healing for wounding memories. You can view this at:

    The LIFE operationalizes the 5 childhood basic needs so that it can be determined if a need has been met or unmet. From this data, specific words or actions can be employed to help address unmet needs or build on those that have been met. I have constructed a Parent Resource Guide and an Educator Resource Guide to provide examples of words or actions that promote need attainment. The guides can also be used preventatively to promote the values of fulfilling childhood basic needs and, thus, build a family, educational system, organization, etc. culture that embraces the needs of all.

    PBSP is such a robust theory I believe it has great value with non-clinical populations. To that end, I have developed a Christian version of the LIFE and am developing a resource guide to be used with drug addiction. I continue to engage in further research to promote PBSP as a scientific based theory and would welcome your comments and feedback.

    Last modified: 27 Oct 2019 5:00 PM | Anonymous


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