Calatonia can be combined with any psychotherapeutic approach as a technique that facilitates self-regulation and wellbeing. However, in order to be included in the psychotherapeutic process, it requires not only practical training, but also the acquisition of a theoretical basis in integrative psychology.
It is essential to understand how the synergy of somatosensory elements is transformed into perceptions and how these perceptions generate images, feelings, emotions, thoughts, and other cognitive processes. In addition, being able to derive psychological and/or symbolic meaning from these manifestations that emerge from somatic work enhances the psychotherapeutic process, bringing awareness of an ever-present spiritual dimension.
Along with these requirements, therapists who use Calatonia and Subtle Touch must work under the supervision of an experienced practitioner for a period of time.
Psychophysical Integration as Proposed by Pethö Sándor
In including the body in psychotherapy, we need to establish a dialogue with it, using its own language of touch, movement, somatosensory perception, noticing and sensing it. Sándor’s subtle somatic work includes unconventional ways of dealing with the body: light and stationary touches on hands or feet (Calatonia), near-touch contact (through the warmth of the hands), sounds, and a variety of resources including passive movements, rhythmic vibration of bone processes, etc. Because of its non-invasive quality and non-task based design (most techniques start with a resting-state functional connectivity), subtle somatic work presents no adverse effects.
These unconventional ways of dealing with the body foster the establishment of new connections in the central nervous system associated with regulated states, neutral or pleasant affect, non-judgmental self-observation, and interpersonal synchrony. By promoting such novel neural connectivity, these techniques also facilitate the deactivation of neural connectivity associated to dysregulated states, which are sustained by a history of stress, fear, anxiety, shame, trauma, among other issues. From a psychological point of view, these new neural pathways often represent the possibility of expanding the repertoire of positive behaviors, such as finding a way out of conflicts, solving problems, opening the mind to new possibilities, a burst of creativity, self-care, ability to attend to emotions (containment), etc.
For a comprehensive development of the somatic therapist, experiencing different techniques, such as Focusing, Feldenkrais, Eutony, Yoga, Trager, releasing exercises within a dyadic space, and learning relaxation and mindfulness, and many other modalities, are useful steps and are a part of the Subtle Touch academic programs in Brazil. Along with Subtle Touch and Calatonia, these modalities increase the therapists’ empathy, bring awareness of their own issues from a somatic perspective, improves physical coordination to apply techniques, and finally, help to develop skills to identify the most appropriate techniques to be used with each patient.