Primal Therapy

Primal therapy is a branch of psychotherapy in which repressed psychic pain is alleviated by re-experiencing a painful experience, thus bringing the pain to conscious awareness where it can be dealt with. Created in 1968 by Arthur Janov and his wife, Vivian, primal therapy guides clients in reliving childhood pain in terms of the emotions associated with a traumatic event as opposed to simply describing the event with words. According to the theory, early traumatic experiences are first imprinted in the brainstem at a time before intellectual abilities, taking place in the neo-cortex, has had a chance to develop. Therapy seeks to integrate the emotions stored in lower-level brain structures with the higher order brain structures, which are responsible for cognition and intellect. According to the theorists, “After a connection is made between feeling sensations and the thinking mind, perceptions are more accurate and a sense of calm and relaxation never before known is finally experienced”.


Janov, A. (2007). Primal healing: access to the incredible power of feelings to improve your health. Franklin Lakes, NJ: New Page Books.