Calatonia and Subtle Touch

In the original Greek, the verb Khalaó indicates relaxation and feeding; retreating from a state of anger, fury or violence; opening a door; undoing the ties of a leather canister; letting go; pardoning one’s parents; removing all veils; etc.

Pethö Sándor

Subtle Touch is a somatic psychotherapy method developed by Pethö Sándor, which is based on a series of mostly gentle bodywork sequences and other techniques, integrated to  Jungian psychology.

Calatonia was the first Subtle Touch technique created by Sándor in 1947 in Europe, during WWII. It consists of a sequence of nine touches on the feet: toes, soles, heels, and calves, or alternatively, on the hands: fingers, palms, wrists and forearms. Usually performed in about 25 – 30 minutes, Calatonia is the most popular of the Subtle Touch techniques.

Sándor explained that Calatonia ‘cleanses’ the body and mind, and over time, it restores the organism’s innate ability to re-set itself to its best way of functioning, an ability known as ‘self-regulation’.  It also provides the therapist with an overall insight about the patient’s psychological and somatic conditions. The Subtle Touch method has been used in Brazil since 1950.

In the early 80’s, Sándor started to teach at the Instituto Sedes Sapientiae (Sedes Sapientiae Institute) in São Paulo, Brazil, in two specialization courses on Subtle Touch method, both at graduate level.

Currently, the shorter course gives a certificate in “Calatonia: Mind and Body Integration” (Calatonia: Integração Mente e Corpo) and offers about 400 hours of coursework in two years, qualifying the students, who already have a undergraduate degree in a related area (psychology, OT, PT, ST, education, medicine, nursing and social work), to practice and teach the method at undergraduate and entry levels (students should undergo at least 100 hours of body psychotherapy during the course).

The second course is offered at a diploma level with 1200 hours, ‘Jung and the Body- Specialization in Analytic Psychology and Somatic approach’ (Jung e Corpo – Especialização em Psicoterapia Analítica e Abordagem Corporal), for those who want to study the integration of Jungian psychology and Subtle Touch in greater depth, qualifying the students to practice and teach at undergraduate and graduate levels.

The Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo offers an undergraduate course as part of the clinical psychology program, ‘Body-Psyche Integration in Jungian Psychotherapy’ (“Integração Corpo-Psique: Psicoterapia de Enfoque Junguiano”), qualifying students to practice Calatonia and the Subtle Touch method, and to teach at entry level.

There are over two thousand certified practitioners in São Paulo and many more in other states of Brazil. They are health professionals from a varied background: psychotherapists, psychologists, speech, occupational and physical therapists, physicians, massage therapists, educators, social workers, nurses, etc.

In academia, there are more than fifteen thesis and dissertations at master and PhD levels on Subtle Touch and Calatonia, several books published in Portuguese, and some articles and chapters published internationally.

Both programs of the Institute Sedes Sapientiae edit an yearly journal ‘Hermes’ and ‘Jung and the Body’ (Jung e Corpo), which present case studies, clinical research, theoretical issues, etc.

In addition, Calatonia has been in magazines and the news several times in the past twenty years.

Click here to read a patient’s testimony

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