My Connection with Reichian Therapy and Wilhelm Reich

By Judyth O. Weaver

I came to working in this field of somatics and somatic psychology by searching for answers for my own physical and psychological questions.

I was an aspiring modern dancer in the 1950’s and 60’s, and upon my return from Asia in 1968, I no longer wanted to participate in that world. I wanted to find a way I could integrate my experience of movement with the deep, expansive world I had discovered in stillness and silence, and I wanted to share it with others. While maintaining my meditation practice here in the United States I began studying t’ai chi ch’uan (ancient chinese movement meditation) and sensory awareness (what I would call everyday meditations).

As life got complicated and various problems brought me to look for help, I was lucky to find a therapist who said he “worked with the body.” This made sense to me and this was my introduction to Wilhelm Reich.

I consider myself very fortunate to have come across this “body oriented psychotherapy.” Earlier in my life I had worked with several therapists and studied psychology, and although I may have come to more of an intellectual understanding of my problems, nothing in me really changed. It took working with my body and my mind – the whole of me – for something to happen and bring me to feel better about myself, deal better with my life.

I was so intrigued about this kind of work that I wanted to understand it more. I had no idea or intention of doing anything professional; I just wanted to understand what was happening and why. After studying briefly with Dr. Gerald Frank and extensively with Dr. Philip Curcuruto, and receiving certification in Reichian Therapy, I was encouraged by Dr. C. to begin to work with people. I was impressed and thrilled at this natural and organic way of working. People I worked with were feeling better, feeling freer, and able to create fuller, more satisfying lives for themselves. Since 1976 I have consistently given private sessions and also workshops.

As I continued to study and investigate the various and different paths of Reich’s work I came into contact with the Orgonomists, some “old Reichians” (clients and colleagues of Reich) and eventually his daughter, Eva Reich.

Eva and I have had a continuing connection since approximately 1985 when I began studying with her. Over the years we have spent hours face to face and many more on the phone in discussion – stimulating conversations -about all aspects of her father’s and her own and my work. It has been a wonderful collaboration!

In the beginning, with my certification in Reichian Therapy, I called my work “Reichian-based Awareness Therapy.” Over the years it became clear how my approach integrates various like kinds of work (just as Reich was influenced by learning about the “sensory awareness” work of Elsa Gindler). Knowing that Reich never wanted his work to be labeled with his name, and with the new and clear usage of the term “somatics” meaning “experiencing the body from within,” I wanted to support this term and the move away from the body/mind split. I feel very strongly that our original resources are full and naturally sound; that through education, training, trauma, etc. we loose connection with them and that my focus of working with people is to help them rediscover and reclaim their birthrights. Therefore the name SOMATIC RECLAIMING.

I feel that I, and everyone of us who enters the field of psycho/somatic integration, owes a great debt to Wilhelm Reich and his work.

Learn more about about Reich and the Pardon Project.