Pesso Boyden - What is it?

Deborah Clarke photograph Copyright Create Coaching  

I have had the pleasure of working with Deborah recently and as a Pesso Boyden Facilitator I wanted to pick her brains about what it is and how it could be used in organisations and for personal development.

Here is our conversation!


T: I have never heard of Pesso Boyden, what is it?

D: Pesso Boyden System Psychomotor (BBSP) is a  powerful mind/body personal development tool for making lasting personal change.


This system was created by Al Pesso and Diane Boyden, in their work as choreographers they devised physical movements that would help their dancers to release blocked emotions, so the dancers could express those particular emotions more fluently.   From this work Al Pesso and Diane Boyden then went onto to research and refine a very exact therapeutic system of personal growth and development, which has for the last 30 years been widely used throughout Europe and the USA

The goal of this work is to help people become truly who they are'

Which means in Albert Pesso’s words  we can enjoy ‘pleasure, satisfaction, meaning and connectedness, rather than suffer from pain, frustration, despair and alienation.’

The structure

 PBSP is a hugely respectful system which sees the client as being the equal of ‘therapist/facilitator’.  The process, which lasts approximately 60 – 90 minutes and is called a structure, starts with a client simply sharing a concern or problem (or just talking about their thoughts and feelings). Then through an eloquent and keen process of scanning, observing and dialogue the facilitator helps the client first identify, then address the current issue and locate the possible source in the past.  Then the work focuses on creating an antidote,  (often the reversal of what did happen or what should have been.)   The outcome of the structure  is a ‘new memory’.  It can take place on a one to one basis or in a group, where group members can take on the role of accommodators and are asked to do, and say the very thing that should have happened in the past. So whilst the past can never be changed, life in the present can be transformed


T: Why does this work?

D: There is much  current research into how the brain works, how memories are stored and provide information for our thinking and our personality / behavior , but having witnessed many people participating in this system it seems abundantly clear that why we can be ready to accept, in fact truly welcome and embrace the antidote, this  invented  memory,( if the experience can be satisfactory made real enough for us) is because on some level we know this is what should of happened in the first place.  There is a satisfying 'ah hah' moment, the click of closure ...on something which has persisted and persisted.  I have seen this moment on many people’s faces and which is why I feel so passionately committed to this work.


T: You mention Psychomotor - is it a movement based idea?

D: Yes!   This system is about the interaction of the mind (psych) with the body (motor).  As this method was created by dancers (Al Pesso and Diane Boyden) you can see how naturally they would regard the body as the way of conveying information.  Thoughts generate energy and energy generates action which shows up in the client's body, and in this system accurate monitoring of this by the facilitator helps uncover what is going on in the client's mind.

Also PBSP originated in theUS, and psychomotor is a term used in theUSmore often than here inUK!

Finally Al Pesso is still actively involved in delivering this work and in the last 10 years most of the new developments in this method have come from Al Pesso, which is why the method is sometimes described as "the Pesso method" in this country


T: Why is it different to other coaching I may have done?

D: It is different from coaching because it is like robust form of personal development.   When I have experienced the work I feel like I metaphorically buckle myself into the chair beforehand as I know the ride could get be bumpy!  (Not all people will experience it this way, but still it can be a surprisingly emotional journey.)

I have heard it described by one client as like ‘speed dialing the unconscious’.  And that is a good depiction, as the system provides a way for your conscious mind (pilot) to work with what the unconscious mind (or body) presents to you.  You are suddenly presenting yourself with, and then completely blitzing stuff that you may  have had no idea how much it was troubling you or weighing you down.   Of course some structures can be more powerful than others but still each time I do this work I feel my unconscious mind has a chance to find the right thing to look at and move on from, leaving me that little bit  freer, lighter and clearer.


T: How will it help my professional development?

D: What does professional development truly mean?   (In PBSP we are taught that we are born with a genetic expectation to want to make a significant and lasting contribution to the world.)  If PBSP can help you on our journey to be the person you are capable of being then that is going to have an impact on every aspect of your life.  I recently turned up to a 'business coaching’ session for a client with the expectation we were going to focus on her business plan.  However when I got there she shared she had being having terrible migraines.  From work uncovered in  previous coaching sessions she decided she wanted to explore how she might be holding herself back from making real business progress.  This was quite a reversal, whereas she had viewed personal coaching as a bit of a luxury, nice but maybe a bit of a self indulgence, now she was viewing as a necessary precursor to success. – ‘If I work on my  ‘true potential' then my business can really start of take off! It is hardly revolutionary to say - that person most likely to be holding you back will always be you!  But it is a sweet sweet moment when you make that discovery tangible and experience a real redoubling of your personal impact in the world.

Here is the real value of employing a coach is to have someone who can dance between the outer business landscape and the client's inner world seeking out the gold.

The details of the session

Through doing a PBSP structure she realized how she had built solid mechanism to protect for herself as a child (which had been necessary for her at that age) however now it was clear that this belief, this unconscious need to protect herself has been impairing her ability to take the necessary steps and calculated risks to significantly grow her business.  Now she is freed up  to  enjoy a different approach.


T: What results can I expect?

D: Someone recently made the comment  that people do not like change you know?

Whilst I recognize the truth of this statement I think what is so attractive about PBSP is the fundamental principle is that not about changing you are but allowing you to become who you truly are.  And who is not interested in being the best they can be.

That said PBSP I know will not be suitable for everyone. My best advice is to try and see.  Then if you feel it is for you, you could join one of my groups of have one to one sessions. Try it out and see your potential!


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