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Can you sort out your head in a week?

There’s a growing interest in intensive psychotherapy courses, but can you really clear out the baggage of the past in one short, sharp burst? Jane Alexander put the six-day Penninghame process to the test

After a difficult childhood, I’d tried therapy, and I deemed it successful. But as I hit my 50s, I realised I wasn’t sorted, not by a long way. On the surface, my life was fine. Inside, however, I felt numb and plagued by bouts of deep depression.

Then I went to Penninghame. I go on a lot of retreats, and I figured this one would be no different. I’d emerge feeling uplifted and bright for a short time, before lapsing back to my usual state. Instead, Penninghame ripped through my Pentagon-grade defences. ‘Original wounding happens early,’ said Ray Butler, founder of the programme, which has been running for 15 years. ‘In many families, core needs weren’t met or feelings weren’t allowed.’ In his view, the psyche is built up of several layers. At the core is the heart, where we experience love and connection. This is surrounded by an emotional layer; a churning mass of turbulent feelings (fear, anger, rage, pain). On top of this is a muscular layer, the body’s armour, which keeps potentially dangerous feelings locked in. Surrounding this is the ego layer, which blames other people and outside circumstances – it’s the home of distrust, over-intellectualism, projections and denial.

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Psychologies July 2016- Healthy Happy Body