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Do you have a question for our staff about the Primal Institute or Primal Therapy in general? If so — and it has not already been answered below — please don't hesitate to ask us. If we think others may benefit from the answer to your question, we'll post it here as well. However, to make sure that you receive an answer privately, you must provide your e-mail address.

Q & A:
Peter Bender asks:
Does a patient have to participate in group therapy?

First of all each persons case is discussed thoroughly prior to beginning treatment to determine what is the best course of treatment for that person. This would include individual sessions, group therapy retreats etc. That being said, group therapy is an extremely important part of treatment for most of us because so many of our problems in relating mimic our previous childhood relationships. It is clear to us that group therapy can be a very effective trigger for Primal feelings.

Nancy Myers asks:
You mention a training program for therapists. Do you not have a list of trained therapists for persons unable to come to California?

We have found over a period of many years, that the therapy is best done in a clinic setting - obviously it is critical that anyone claiming to be a Primal Therapist be certified by Arthur and Vivian Janov . In addition to that, we feel that the feedback and supervision our therapists give each other is critical in maintaining the highest level of care for our patients. Primal Therapy takes years of training and we do not feel it would be in your best interest to go elsewhere. That being said, we would ask that you call our office to discuss the many ways in which we can make it possible for you to have your initial therapy here in Los Angeles and continue with follow-up from your hometown. It might be helpful to know that very few of our patients are actually from Los Angeles, but come from other parts of the country as well as from all over the world.

Noah H. asks:

Until I read The Primal Scream, I considered myself a very healthy person physically and mentally. I don't smoke, drink, use any drugs (not even over-the-counter cold or headache medication), or overeat. In short I don't feel like I have any addictive or pain killing behaviors. I generally enjoy life, my friends and family. I never fight or argue with anyone. It occured to me though, that I haven't cried a single tear other than for physical injury for as long as I can remember and I don't seem to remember much of my childhood. Reading the book made me suspect of the occasional allergies and muscle aches that I have (I rarely get headaches). Also I've realised that some of my emotional responses to social situations are stronger than the situation would logically merit. Finally I seem to procrastinate quite a lot and often feel indicisive about major decisions in life. I'm wondering If I would benifit from Primal Therapy. My guess is that I would but I imagine you have many people who need the therapy more urgently than I do. What do you suggest?

Thank you for your interesting question. Initially it sounds as if your life is pretty darn good. You get along with everyone, don't smoke or drink or have any vices. I believe you when you state your life is good - enjoy everything there is to enjoy. There are some "red flags" that you mention that are legitimate concerns. Having never shed a tear since childhood, overreacting to social situations and procrastination can all be signs of emotional repression. Perhaps the strongest indicator that you have significant pain and that you could benefit from therapy is the complete lack of childhood memories. The relationship between pain and memory is simple - repressed pain equals less memory - liberate pain and memory is restored.

During the past 30 years, many patients from all walks of life have been through the therapy. We all bear the scars of our childhood and some people suffer more than others, and some people have had extremely painful lives. Regardless of where you fit on this continuum, don't let it keep you from seeking the help and the fuller life you desire.

Martin asks:

I've just read the Newsletter article "Facing Truths and Coming Out". I am bisexual myself and the report moved me because I read the "Primal Scream" in 1978, with its explanation of homosexuality as a kind of quest for love, with healthy sexuality being heterosexual. That explanation really convinced me at the time and ever since, really, I have looked at my sexuality as something possibly immature, unreal, an act out. When did you change your views on homosexuality as compared to those expressed in the Primal Scream, Imprints and other books, and why? I feel confused and betrayed by the fact that in the Newsletter article the exact opposite view of the nature of homo- or bisexuality is expressed to that which was voiced with such vigour and conviction in the Primal Scream and subsequent literature.

The following brief answer is based on 30 years of clinical experience. I hope it helps.

We all want answers in life, preferably simple, black and white answers. However, life doesn't always cooperate. One quick point to remember, articles in our Newsletter by our patients, ex-patients and interested subscribers do not necessarily reflect the theoretical position of The Primal Institute. We simply provide a forum for many points of view. The following is our "official" position at this time, based on the information that we now have.

Over the past 30 years, there have been homosexual patients who have changed their sexual orientation and believe that their homosexuality was a function of repressed primal pain.

Also, during the past 30 years, there have been many patients who considered themselves homosexual, who did not seek treatment, nor did they consider their sexuality a problem. In most cases, this group of patients did not feel their homosexuality to be a result of repressed pain. This group does not claim to have all the answers - only that they always felt that they were born that way, and that primal pain was not a causative factor in their sexuality.

Perhaps there is more than one type of homosexuality, after all, Darwin's natural selection favors a large variety of genotypes. The hallmark of Primal Theory has always been that each persons experience is unique and as we open ourselves to feel the truth of our childhood experience, all the answers we need will be right there, waiting for us.

I hope this helps a bit - good luck on your journey and look only to yourself for the truth.

Ron asks:
How effective do you consider Primal Therapy to be with the so-called "personality disorders" ? Are any special conditions required beyond those required for "ordinary" neurotics ? And what are Primal Therapy's limitations with these conditions ?

Primal Therapy is extremely effective with so called personality disorders. Primal Theory has never put much stock in conventional diagnostic classifications. Granted, "personality disorder" does indicate chronic deep seated personality traits, but there is no special conditions or limitations for these people in Primal Therapy. In my experience, individuals who "stay the course" with therapy and understand that significant deep seated change takes time, have done exceptionally well in therapy. Primal Therapy has for thirty years challenged traditional diagnostic types, succeeding where others have failed.

Hope this answers your question, and thank you for your interest.

Anaheed asks:
What is the process for a former patient to re-enter current therapy? Former treatment was in 1980's, some buddy follow-up, but not in recent years. Thank you for your time and attention.

If you are interested in returning to the Institute for individual or group therapy, and have completed an intensive program at our clinic in the past, you would simply contact our office for a re-entry form. The form is a short questionnaire to bring us up to date since we last saw you. Depending on how long it has been since you were here, we generally arrange for a 1 week intensive to get you back into the program. After the short intensive, you are then able to attend sessions or groups on an "as needed" basis. There is no additional charge for re-entry other than the usual per hour fee.

Tom McAleer asks:
Do you still offer a two week intensive or have you gone back to a threee week only intensive?
I live about a 3 hour drive from LA. Could I be near the institute for the intensive and then have follow up while living in my area?

We offer two programs at our clinic. Our primary program is the 3 week intensive which includes 15 days of individual, open ended sessions and in addition, 60 hours of group therapy. The second program we offer is limited. This includes 5 days of individual, open ended sessions, 10 hours of group therapy, and a one week residential retreat program. This program is offered only twice yearly and you would need to contact our office for upcoming, available dates.
Regarding follow-up. Yes, you are able to complete your intensive in Los Angeles and then return home with a follow-up program in place.

Reyes Gir?n asks:
Necesito saber si existen centros de terapia primal en Espa?a(Madrid) y en Francia (Paris).

Muchas gracias, un saludo cordial

Our only clinic is located in Los Angeles, California. We have patients who come from all over the world to do their intensive program with us, and then return home with a follow-up program in place. We have worked hard to ensure that location not be an obstacle for our patients by providing excellent telephone follow-up, e-mail correspondence and our "buddy system".

Chris Sargeant asks:
How long does it take for Primal Therapy to work? I mean can you explain if a person is in therapy a few months or a few years?

The length of treatment time is related to the extent of pain and damage an individual is suffering with. Everyone's childhood varies with regard to how much pain and repression was present. The process of "feeling pain" may go on for quite some time, but formal treatment with a therapist decreases significantly during the first 6 months to 1 year. Many patients that we see here are limited to the amount of time they are able to spend with us in Los Angeles, due to work and family obligations. Because of this, we have developed several very successful follow-up programs for these people in order to keep the process moving forward once they have returned home. Primal Therapy/Theory, sees its purpose as restoring one's ability to "feel" and once major repression is lifted, symptoms gradually fall by the wayside.

Sonja Bell asks:
Are the therapists at The Primal Institute licensed? Do you need a special license to be a Primal Therapist?

Yes, all of our therapists are licensed by the State of California. Every member of our staff is either a licensed Psychologist and/or an MFT (Marriage & Family Therapist). You should always be certain that any therapist you work with is licensed as it is illegal in the state of California to practice therapy without one. Regarding a license to practice Primal Therapy. There is no Primal Therapy license, but there is certification to become a Primal Therapist. All of our staff members have been certified by either Arthur Janov and/or Vivian Janov.

R.L. Spark asks:
Are your Retreats open to anyone?

The Retreats are available to those people who have completed an intensive program at the Institute regardless of how long ago (though some degree of follow-up may be required prior to the start of a Retreat if more than 5 years has passed since your program). Twice a year, we do offer on a very limited basis, a one week intensive & Retreat program. You would need to contact the Institute's office for details.

Beverly Gilles asks:
Where do people stay when they come to L.A. for your program? Do you know of hotels that offer discounted rates? I am from Boston and don't have a lot of extra money for living expenses.

Though we are an out-patient clinic, we certainly try to help our incoming patients with affordable accomodations. We are able to offer to you a couple of hotels within walking distance of our clinic that have extended to our clients, discounted rates. We also have several patients who live and work in L.A. and are kind enough to offer when available, a room to rent in their homes or apartments at very reasonable rates. Most of these accomodations are available on a week to week basis and require no cleaning or security deposits. This is generally the best scenario, as it enables our new patients to have the comforts of home at an affordable price.