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