Holistic Research Center Gains Momentum with Research Retreat

On Friday, March 31, 2017 the Holistic Research Center hosted a Research Planning Retreat: Pushing the Limits of Knowing in Psychotherapy which was held on the Berkeley Campus. Zvi Bellin, PhD., Director of the Holistic Research Center, welcomed over a dozen participants in what soon would be a think tank for the role of Holistic paradigms in mental health research.

The morning began with an invocation lead by Sonia Cristina Suarez, a doctoral student in Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley. Drawing from her cultural origins, Sonia called upon her ancestors to bless and protect our space and journey together. Her invitation to welcome our creative process set a tone of warmth and collaboration immediately. The feeling of excitement and curiosity was growing, as we began introductions and intentions- coffee in hand!

The unfolding of personal and professional experience in this group was inspiring. Was anyone else feeling a surge of energy to contribute to this exploration of research in psychotherapy? The answer was palpable and it was “yes!,” given our willingness to share our intimate stories with one another. As we went around the circle, our narratives, both unique and familiar, began to assume a momentum. We witnessed an unfolding of different paths and origins that brought us to this day, in this think tank together.

Our facilitator, Zvi, asked us to participate in a joint mural creation. He invited our attention to tables filled with sequins, oil pastels, clippings, crayons, and fuzzy applications where we could express our questions, feelings, and answers – and we sure did! This led us to express our questions and ideas about the future of Holistic mental health research.

The most exciting portion of this mini-retreat was the energy of our creative process. The bustle and hum of the group, the sensations of the blank paper being filled with color and texture, and the synergy of sharing came together as a matter of course. We concluded this exercise with a reflection on what we had witnessed through this process of a collaborative effort.

The momentum of this think tank has only begun. Through this energizing retreat, the Holistic Research Center plans to continue the inertia of inviting research questions and ideas into the field of psychotherapy.

Written by Claudia Villierme, M.Ed., MA Student in Holistic Counseling Psychology at JFKU

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