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Dear members, welcome to our winter edition of the US PBSP Association newsletter, and our first for the new year.  I do hope 2019 has been off to a good start for you all.  There are a lot of exciting events planned this year and plenty to look forward to, including our 3rd Annual USPBSPA Conference and the 7th International PBSP Conference in Prague. There are also plenty of training opportunities around the country with programs continuing in Minneapolis, Asheville and San Diego.   

Slowly but surely our organization continues to take shape!  In Jim's words, like a little tree seedling that looks like it's growing out of solid rock, one wonders how it survives but there it is growing steadily against the odds.  This of course is thanks to all of you, practitioners and supporters alike. We very much hope you enjoy this latest edition and as always, we welcome your feedback and engagement.  Please let me know if you have any comments, suggestions, upcoming events or article submissions.  I'd love to hear from you:

Warmest good wishes

Hazel Latoza
USPBSPA Newsletter Editor

Holding for Limits Exercise

Gus Kaufman, Ph.D., Senior PBSP Trainer

After a brief refresher on basic needs including limits, with the example of a parent not letting a child run into a street with car traffic, I had the group split into pairs and do two exercises. In the first, one person holds out two fingers—index and middle—which are then gripped firmly by the accommodator. The first person then tries to open the two fingers with the accommodator holding them closed.  After experiencing this briefly, the ‘client’ talks about what the experience of being limited brings up for them. Then the two switch roles. After all have completed, we have a group sharing.

For the second exercise, the same pair gets in arm wrestle position, but the person providing the limits uses two hands vs. the client’s one. The accommodator simply keeps the experiencer’s arm from pushing the accommodator’s arm over; they don’t push the experiencer’s arm down. Again the person whose turn it was shares what it was like to experience this limit. Then they switch, and after the second person experiences being limited and there is sharing in the pair group, we have group sharing.

From this group sharing and feedback received later when I saw one of the group individually, I learned that for persons who have been abusively restrained and violated, it is difficult to not have this experience be a repetition/re-evocation of trauma. Two women shared that they had to deal with a body reaction of panic by reminding themselves this was not that history, and that the person holding them was not an abuser. I thought of, and shared with this client Michael Lerner’s concept of ‘surplus powerlessness.’  It’s not good for people to be too far on the helpless end of the power-vulnerability polarity and to be mal-used. I reminded my client that her partner in the exercise was a benevolent person. She replied that his laugh and his smile had helped her not regress. In subsequent individual sessions she reflected further on the panic that had come up for her, and told of some of the history that had been summoned. Since this reflection was done in an atmosphere of acceptance and support, she was able to continue to metabolize the negative history and replace it.

My conclusion is that when I use this exercise again, before we commence the action I will suggest that those who have been restrained and abused in their histories feel free to either 1) not participate, 2) say ‘stop’ and ‘let go’ at any time and 3) remind themselves that the accommodator is not their abuser, and indeed feel free to ask the accommodator to state ‘I am not your abuser, I am (accommodator’s name) role-playing a positive accommodator for you. An ideal figure would never have restrained you abusively. Additionally, you can end the exercise at any time.”

I am also considering adapting some of the old negative accommodation exercises to help those who have been silenced and oppressed find their voice and power. More to come!

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).  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:

What is the process to becoming a Certified PBSP Therapist?

Answer from Jim Amundsen:

Within the PBSP community world-wide, the status of being “Certified” as a PBSP psychotherapist has referred to someone who has submitted a video of themselves leading a client in a structure.  There is then a committee of three people who review the video and evaluate it using a list of crucial points (click here for the points used to evaluate).  The candidate needs to also submit a written self-evaluation of his or her video.  A perfect structure is not a requirement.  What the evaluating committee will be looking for is the candidate’s capacity to evaluate his or her own work.  For example, someone might say, “I can see at this point in the video I missed a voice.”

Currently, we have retained the requirement that was in place while Al and Diane Boyden Pesso were alive, that candidates must first complete 27 days of training with a certified PBSP Trainer before they can apply to present a video.  Experience has shown that frequently people don’t feel ready to submit a video even after 27 days of training (I myself had completed more like 40 days of training before I submitted a video for certification).

In recognition of the fact that there may be people who are interested in PBSP but who are not interested in the degree of commitment involved in becoming a certified PBSP psychotherapist, the Board of the USPBSPA decided to create a Practitioner level of recognition which would require 15 days of training with a Certified PBSP Trainer.  Our experience (those of us who are Trainers and Supervisors) is that with 15 days training people can get a fairly complete understanding of theories of PBSP along with a general understanding of the techniques, perhaps being able to incorporate some of the methods into their practices but we wouldn’t expect them to able to lead structures.  I know people who aren’t psychotherapists, teachers for example, who wanted to learn enough about the principles of the theories and methods of PBSP to incorporate them into their teaching.  Or, there may be psychotherapists who have already trained extensively in other forms of psychotherapy who are interested in incorporating elements of PBSP into their practices but who aren’t interested in leading structure groups.

Click here to be directed to our Membership tab for details on the various levels of membership available within the USPBSPA.

To track our reader question, head to our Forum page, where you will have the opportunity to ask additional follow up questions.

Please refer to our Events page for full details on this year's training programs outlined below.  There maybe more events added in the 2019 calendar year so do check the Events page for updates. 

3rd Annual USPBSPA Conference (Ashville, NC)

 "Endless becoming:  An experiential workshop for psychotherapists"

April 27 & 28

Save the dates!  The 3rd Annual USPBSPA Conference will be held in Asheville, NC on April 27 & 28, 2019.  The conference will run over 1.5 days (Saturday and Sunday morning).  Additional details will be posted on the USPBSPA website events page shortly, so stay tuned!

Five Day PBSP Training (Lutsen, MN)

"Embodied Memory Reconsolidation"

June 10 – 14

PBSP Trainer, Jim Amundsen, PhD, LP, will once again offer a 5 day PBSP training retreat on the shores of Lake Superior in northern MN.  Last year's attendees were unanimous in their praise for both the training and the location for this training retreat.  All therapist of all disciplines are welcomed, from expert PBSP practitioners to those brand new and perhaps curious about PBSP psychotherapy. 

Continuing education credits will be available from the Minnesota Boards of Psychology and Social Work (25 hours).  

To register, contact Jim Amundsen directly at: or, 651-649-0984 (voice only).  Register early as group size will be limited.  Cost $550. 

Lutsen Resort will offer rooms at 3 nights for the price of 2.  There are also condominium type units for rental.  Contact the resort separately to reserve a room. (

7th International PBSP Conference 

On the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the birth of Albert Pesso and Diane Boyden Pesso, the 7th International PBSP Conference entitled "Science and Good Practice" will be held in Prague.  This event is being organized by the Czech Association of Pesso Boyden Psychomotor Psychotherapy. 

Click here to download the full conference invitation & information in PDF. 

Visit or contact for more details.

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