Log in


A Message of Hope

by Jim Amundsen

I keep searching my memories to compare the crisis we are facing today with previous ones that I’ve experienced.  I remember as a 9-year-old feeling terror over the possibility of a nuclear holocaust.  This possibility was made stark to me when the scout troop I belonged to participated in a volunteer effort to stock all public governmental buildings with boxes and boxes of supplies – food, water and so on – to be used in the event of a nuclear attack and people would have to remain sheltered inside.  During those days we would have nuclear attack drills in addition to fire drills and tornado drills at school.  Throughout all of this I remember thinking that as far as I knew if a bomb were to hit my home town of East Lansing, MI, that all of these preparations would be stupid since everything within a 5 mile radius would be turned to ash.  The fact that all the preparations seemed to be masking an inevitable annihilation made things even scarier in that the adults around me seemed to be blind, or at least minimizing, the danger.

Racial injustice was about as painful for me as boy as it is now.  I was made aware of such issues because my church was involved in controversy over the fact that it had violated “red line” arrangements and rented out a house to a black family, which became a matter of controversy.  During the summer of the “Freedom riders,” my minister’s son responded by joining up; going south to help register black voters.  There were weekly reports on Sunday mornings from him.  Everyone was aware of the possibility of murder and other forms of violence that he might be subjected to.

Then, as a teenager, there was the Viet Nam war.  I had done some reading about the conflict as a 12-year-old, before Johnson escalated our involvement there, and had decided that we were the bad guys there.  Between the struggles for racial equality and the sense that my government wanted to kill me, plus, the ongoing fear of nuclear annihilation, I remember the sixties as being a very scary time. 

From my point of view, I can affirm Al Pesso’s often stated perspective that “life is hard” and frequently unjust.  Every generation seems to have its’ hard times.  Such hard times are the omnipresent condition that humans seem to universally find themselves in.  And yet, as PBSP affirms, it is still possible to lead lives of pleasure, satisfaction, meaning and connectedness.  Even if just through Zoom, the world needs practitioners of PBSP to help with the battles to curb injustice and other forms of destructiveness.

Movie & Discussion

Because COVID has made it challenging to engage as a community, so we thought we'd take it online!  

Please click HERE to watch a brief introduction video from Jim Amundsen, President of USPBSPA followed by the full-length feature film titled “State of Mind” that was filmed in 2009 when Al Pesso was invited to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to work with trauma victims.

After the film, we hope you will share your impressions and thoughts with the community by posting to our Discussion Forum HERE.

Perspectives from a Returning Student

by Andre Stern

Jim Amundsen asked if I would write a few words about my second go round in the three year training program. 1989 was the beginning of my first training.

Here’s my take: 

Rip Van Winkle awakens to a new world. 

I was there for the development of the pilot concept. And I was there for holes in roles development. But, I came back to hear something about “placeholders” in my first structure, I tried to look for a line forming where I could find such a person. Bookmarks? Reversals? A new language has taken over! No more negative accommodators? Where’s the fun in dysfunction without them. Coming back to PBSP is like coming home for the first time. The culture has shifted from drama to mindfulness. Talk about maturation into being more settled and clear. 

Many of the faces are old friends. Many new faces are becoming new friends. The community feels like it has solidified and become more connected. And to have Al’s daughter deeply engaged in the community is great. 

But Al’s not here. His constant unyielding inspired drive is constantly referenced. As depicted In the Disney movie Coco and culture of Mexico, he clearly lives. 

But I miss him. He brought improvisation to theory and practice every time. I remember realizing that whenever he spoke, he spoke off the top of his head, never rehearsed. 

Last year in Prague Barbara Fischer-Bartelmann expressed the concern in posing the question: where will new evolutionary ideas come from? 

Al exemplified my understanding of dopamine, the fun spirit of adventure into the unknown, especially the unknown of my own self. And it’s great too see that neuroscience has caught up with Al. Memory reconsolidation...Synthetic memory...You say potato...Thank you Jiri Horace.

In my return, highly prompted by Gus Kaufman and Robin Mcinturff, everyone has been graciously wonderful. There’s a coherence to the training that has developed. At the same time, the essence of hope and goodness of soul, the spirit of the ‘60s “human potential movement” stays intact and is flourishing. Thank you all for working hard to keep it alive. It’s very good to be back. The trainees all have shown up with the kind of spirit and sensitivity Al and Diane would be beaming at in pride. 


Updating Your Knowledge and Skills in PBSP Psychotherapy: An Experiential and Didactic Training (via Zoom)

December 5 - 6, 2020

Hosted by PBSP Trainers:

Gus Kaufman, PhD, Matt Fried, PhD, and Robbin McInturff, MA, LPC, LMFT

PBSP is a powerful, transformative theory and set of therapeutic practices.  Throughout his life Al Pesso continued to evolve the work that he and Diane Boyden Pesso created.  Al was increasingly clear that we must attend to what is happening in 'the mind's eye and the mind's body," a guiding principle as PBSP trainers have collaborated to adapt PBSP to online work.

In this workshop we will address later developments of PBSP theory and practice: Key innovations such as reversals (not lingering in the problem), holes in roles (identifying clients who moved consciously or unconsciously to take care of their parents/people, shut down their own ability to take in, and become hyper-responsible, yet empty), making "movies" to heal holes-in-roles, placeholders (neutral objects used rather than negative figures), and how to create powerful antidotal experiences for clients in one-on-one online therapy and in online group therapy.  Pesso recognized people often project the principle of ideal or negative parent onto a spouse or boss.  We will teach his technique of moving principles from where they are projected to where they need to be.  We will demonstrate exercises that adapt well to online work and using video connection to enhance microtracking (witnessing affects and externalizing 'voices' - injunctions that create 'old maps.')  We will offer guidance and discussion on how to address, theoretically and practically, issues of racism, sexism, gender identity and sexual orientation from a PBSP perspective.

Trainers will lead exercises and mini=structures.  We will demonstrate going from relaxed-reflex-stance information about body signals to body-based reparative structures.

This workshop is designed for therapists who have had exposure to or training in PBSP and wish to learn later developments and brush up their skills.  If participants desire, we will provide follow-up skills training and supervision, and offer a master class supervising therapists' work = live and videotaped.  

PS  If you have not used Zoom & have a laptop, we can teach this in advance.  It's not difficult.

Please note: The dates of been changed to:

December 5 & 6, 9 am to 1 pm, Eastern Time (10 am to 2 pm, Central time). 

Cost: $400.  Six CE's for psychologists, social workers, marriage and family therapists, professional counselors applied for through R. Cassidy (extra charge).

To register, you can register online here, or send $150 deposit to Matt Fried, PhD., PO Box 63, NY, NY 12455 or VENMO or Chase QuickPay/Zelle to 917-701-6054

For more information, contact Gus Kaufman, PhD.,, 404-483-7457

Please refer to our Events page for full details on all our upcoming events and training programs.


**To unsubscribe from our quarterly newsletters, please email 'UNSUBSCRIBE' to**


4300 W. River Pkwy

Apt. 412

Minneapolis, MN 55406

Questions? Email us at


USPBSPA is a non-profit 501 (C) 3 organization.

©2021 All Rights Reserved 

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software