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Dr Floriana Formicola

Meditation as an Aid to Self-Diagnosis

Dr Floriana Formicola has a Ph.D. in Psychology, Oncological Psychology and Psychiatry. A psychotherapist, she is also director of a district service for psychotherapy and mental health in Italy. She is familiar with the Osho active methods of meditation, both using them herself and recommending them to certain of her clients....
Here she talks about how she brings her knowledge and experience of meditation into her work.

     My work is with private psychiatric clients and psychiatric staff, conducting groups and individual psychotherapy, in addition to supervising psychologists and the rest of the staff.
     I work in Naples, in the Unit of Mental Health, that comprises a hospital unit. The groups that I lead with patients are concerned with the area of psychological diseases, and the supervised groups are open to everybody.
     I have often worked in other Italian regions (Rome, Liguria, Tuscany, and Sicily), with supervised and confrontational groups, always using a meditation at the beginning of the group (and possibly one at the end). I have taught bodymind techniques, which are my specialization, in meditation groups in Naples and other Italian cities.

For Psychiatric Clients
     I use Dynamic and Kundalini meditations to start any group session that I am supervising. In my individual work on clients I suggest Dynamic or Kundalini.
     Kundalini works with every kind of group, and also with patients with serious diseases. I would say that there are no counter-indications to using Kundalini; it is helpful even for those who are borderliners. With appropriate care, Kundalini can be introduced to someone who is deeply disturbed.
     I wouldn't say the same for Dynamic: it is difficult for those who have serious symptomology to do. In addition, it is not effective in restoring the personal balance.
     Dynamic is not appropriate for disturbed personalities (paranoid, schizophrenic or borderline disorders). It is appropriate for affective disorders, anxiety, hysteria, and obsessive-compulsive disorders.
     The meditations in the psychotherapy groups work, through movement and emotional expression, in dissolving all the tension. This is a step people can take before they approach the cognitive part of the work.

Client feedback
     Usually I receive feedback after the meditation, which I use in continuing the psychotherapeutic work. Almost always the feedback about meditation becomes a diagnostic instrument that allows me to understand exactly at which point of his process the patient is. So, it is a good starting point.
     Also, the bodywork that follows can be adapted according to the first "self-diagnosis." Subsequent interpretations can be connected to the patient's first feedback. This idea creates a circular dimension inside a psychotherapy group – a gestalt that opens and closes with a meditation.
     I would say that this is the most important discovery I have made in my work with meditation in groups:
– Using meditation as a self-diagnosis
– Using the experience of self-diagnosis in the case of ongoing groups, it works as a focus for the next step.

For Staff
     In the case of supervised groups in the work with skilled staff (psychologists, psychiatrists, nurses, social workers etc), Dynamic has a positive influence on them, particularly in the case of transforming a static situation and in freeing pent-up energy. Kundalini is very useful when there is a need to focus on a patient or to bring attention to a specific ingrained pattern.

Burnout Prevention
     I also use Dynamic and Kundalini in groups for the prevention of burnout, in hospitals and in centers for mental illness and health. Group participants are screened before participating.
     Work on the body and knowing how to be more centered are always ways to prevent burn out. I start this staff burnout prevention group with Dynamic or Kundalini, followed by a relaxation technique. The third phase is a sharing, followed by specific work related to any issues that emerge. I use a variety of methods here – from psychoanalysis to body therapy. The initial project has become a permanent activity because it is recognized to be a very effective instrument.
     In all the groups I conduct, in which meditation is featured, I find that meditation facilitates the expression of participants' feelings and supports my empathy with them. I enjoy the meditative aspect of my work and I'm so happy to have found a way to make the empirical system of the psychotherapeutic approach more complete.

Floriana Formicola is a member of the activemeditation.com team ... To meet the rest of the team

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