Introduction to SHIP® (Spontaneous Healing Intrasystemic
Process): Understanding & facilitating trauma activation &
Dr JO Steenkamp
(BA, BA Hons – Psych, MA – Clin Psych, DLitt et Phil – Clin Psych),
Dr M. Jaco van der Walt
(BA, BA Hons – Psych, MA – Clin Psych, PhD – Clin Psych) &
Dr Elna M. Schoeman-Steenkamp
(BA Log, BA Hons – Psych, MA – Clin Psych, DLitt et Phil – Clin Psych)
The authors are full time private practitioners and registered SHIP® Trainers & Facilitators (THE SHIP®
FOUNDATION, Pretoria, South Africa, www.ship.org.za)
Please address correspondence to Dr JO Steenkamp, P.O. Box 35077, MENLO PARK, 0102, Pretoria, South
Africa. E-mail: email@example.com
Paper presented by Dr JO Steenkamp at The Milton H. Erikson Institute of South Africa’s International
Changing Faces of Psychotherapy Congress, February 2010.
SHIP® theory is introduced as a psychobiodynamic psychotherapeutic modality for
chronic dis-ease manifestations. Internal trauma-activated energy and the process of
disconnection as a pre-cursor for chronic dis-ease are discussed. “Pathology” is
reframed as spontaneous healing messages from the system indicating imbalances in
need of correction. SHIP® is presented as a platform for identifying such messages
and the SHIP® Healing Space is introduced wherein clients’ self-healing processes are
activated, validated and facilitated to run their natural cycle. The shift in focus is not
for the psychotherapist to correct the dis-ease, but to create the medium wherein self-
correction may manifest. The results of SHIP®, freedom of chronic dis-ease
manifestations, clarity of perception and growth, are discussed.
Introduction: Framing the point of reference to spontaneous healing
That which the person believes, is.
The latter part of the 20th century may be identified with a more pronounced focus in the
helping professions on the inherent and instinctive selfnormaliszing mechanisms within the
person to restore balance (Kaplan & Sadock, 1981; Bamforth, 1989; Steenkamp, 1991). This
movement to allocate more emphasis to what Steenkamp later framed as “spontaneous
healing patterns” could possibly be seen as an awakening universal consciousness towards
accepting responsibility for individual emotional and physical health (JOS, 2008). In
addition to this, intensive clinical research by McTaggart and others also highlight that
energy follows intention, emphasizing the responsibility of clinicians when delivering a
diagnosis, in that the implication is that clinicians get what they project onto their clients and
should they change the direction or point of reference of belief concerning the dis-ease, they
change the potential treatment possibilities and the outcome (McTaggart, 2003; McTaggart,
2007; Emoto, 2009). Pinker (2007) is of the opinion that, “Many disagreements in human
affairs turn not on differences in data or logic but on how a problem is framed” (p 243).
According to Fourie (2002) reframing is the deliberate attempt to influence clients’ ideas by
providing them with a convincing explanation of the problem, followed by a coherent
treatment ritual which brings about change. In other words a client can either be seen as a
patient with pathology that needs to be treated symptomatically, or a person with spontaneous
healing manifestations that need to be facilitated so that the inherent spontaneous healing
process can move through its enfolding cycle towards balance. The reframing by a SHIP®
facilitator might therefore “...refute, conform, extend or in some way modify the client‟s
initial view of the situation ...” (Schoeman 2003; p 109) and this meaning attributed to the
client’s problem, and if accepted by the client (Fourie, 1998), will influence the outcome of
Principles underlying SHIP®
SHIP® theory advocates that a point of reference can either create or close possibilities of
inherent potentialities and the less the SHIP® facilitator projects pathology into the chronic
dis-ease patterns of the client, the purer the form in which the client’s healing will manifest.
Instead of a point of reference of “psychopathology and what is wrong with the person” all
presenting chronic symptoms are seen as energy movements towards balance and reframed as
spontaneous healing in action.
In his work in private clinical practice with clients presenting with chronic physical and
emotional dis-ease Steenkamp (1985) originally was drawn to and experimented with
Autogenic Training as a psychophysiological method developed by Shultz & Luthe (1969)
that incorporated the idea of internal selfregulating and selfnormalizing processes. This
paved the way for the discovery of spontaneous healing when Steenkamp (1991) decided not
to prompt clients to self-learn the Autogenic relaxation in preparation for unfolding internal
phenomena, but to rather accept the client’s current uncomfortable internal awareness as a
sign of in need of expression. Steenkamp (1991) then experimented with the use of selective
individual specific activators to open potential disconnected, uncompleted painful memories
that seemed to be at the root of chronic dis-ease. Techniques from other modalities were
incorporated such as free association (Psychoanalysis), the here-and-now experience
(Phenomenology), unconditional regard (Client Centred Psychotherapy), flooding (Behaviour
Therapy), imagery (Gestalt) and the process of abreacting (Autogenic Training) to create the
most suitable psychotherapeutic setting wherein previously inhibited expression of these
memories’ information could run its natural course. What resulted was a gradual unfolding
of a psychotherapeutic procedure for facilitating metaphoric chronic symptom language
(spontaneous healing patterns) that indicated the need for expression of mostly childhood
unexpressed trauma. Once the trauma was expressed fully the chronic dis-ease would lose
their relevance and disappear.
Steenkamp (1991) bases the philosophy of SHIP® on the concept that chronic physical and
emotional dis-ease are spontaneous healing messages from the individual’s system indicating
internal imbalance (Sevenster, 2009). The definition of spontaneous healing in the SHIP®
approach is the process whereby the internal wisdom of the client sets the tone for the
achievement of a balance between the physical, emotional, cognitive / mental and spiritual
aspects of the person (JOS, 2008). The practical application of SHIP® thus implies creating a
facilitating climate wherein these chronic dis-ease manifestations are used as activating
mediums to follow the system’s innate spontaneous rebalancing process. The inherent
natural self-organizing principle means that the person’s system will utilize its internal
resources to express painful memories thereby re-aligning whatever is not in sync. This is
similar in concept to the Internal Family Systems model based in mindfulness techniques that
proposes that even though a person has stored trauma, there is an internal part that remains
untouched by the trauma and that can be utilized in the process towards internal balance
(Schwartz, 1995). As in SHIP® spontaneous healing occurs when activated feelings are
experienced and expressed for the sake of themselves and the person spontaneously moves
towards internal balance.
According to the authors op this article the SHIP® model works well with addressing the
physical and emotional symptoms found in Complex PTSD and that it concurs with the
findings by Fisher (2006), Van der Kolk (2006) and Van der Kolk, McFarlane & Weisaeth
(2007) on the therapeutic management of long term trauma. Schoeman-Steenkamp (2009)
states that SHIP® facilitates the,
“...connection, integration and healing of traumatic pain, fear, helplessness and
traumatic memory” (p xi).
Sevenster (2009) concludes, on having evaluated clients with a history of suffering with
gastrointestinal dis-ease and that have gone for SHIP®:
SHIP® validates and facilitates the owning of GI symptoms and emotions not
previously allowed. This process allows new neurological pathways to form, which
permits the integration of mind and body responses to previously traumatic
experiences (p 150).
The word trauma has been used in the field of psychology for a long time referring to a
variety of aspects (Kirmayer, Lemelson, Barad, 2007). According to Garland (2009; p 2),
Freud saw trauma as the result of any event that lead to emotional distress, i.e. fright, shame,
anxiety, or physical pain. In 1980, when posttraumatic stress disorder was first included in
the diagnostic manual, the American Psychiatric Association described traumatic events as
“outside the range of usual human experience” (Herman, 1997; p 33). Herman says that
psychological trauma is an affliction of the powerless. At the moment of trauma the victim is
rendered helpless by overwhelming force. Although a traumatic event is outside the range of
usual human experience or extraordinary it does not mean that it occurs rarely. It is actually
such a common occurrence in people’s lives that it can hardly be described as outside the
range of ordinary experience (Herman, 199).
Levine (1997; p 10) distinguishes between shock trauma and developmental trauma. Shock
trauma manifests when a potentially life threatening and dangerous experience occurs.
Developmental trauma takes place when people are traumatised by ongoing cruelty, neglect
and abuse as children and they experience problems with identity and deterioration of
relatedness. This also includes what Ford (2002; p 26) calls traumatic victimisation (e.g.
physical abuse, domestic violence, community violence, molestation, sexual abuse and
assault). Ford (2002) reiterates that traumatic victimisation is highly prevalent.
Trauma does not only lie in the definition of the external event but in the individual
psychological reaction to the overwhelming event. Herman (2001) defines the experience of
When neither resistance nor escape is possible, the human system of self-defence
becomes overwhelmed and disorganised. Each component of the ordinary response
to danger, having lost its utility, tends to persist in an altered and exaggerated state
long after the actual danger is over (p 122).
Dissociation is the term commonly used to refer to this disconnection to an altered state of
some of the intense activated feelings relating to the trauma-activating event (Putnam, 1997).
Fischer (2001; p 2) quotes the words of Van der Hart, Van der Kolk & Boon (1998):
Dissociation refers to a compartmentalization of experience: elements of an
experience are not integrated into a unitary whole but are stored in isolated
fragments. . . . Dissociation is a way of organizing information (p 2).
It is interesting to note from this definition, the assumption is that the human system in the
face of adversity is a system in continuous reparation towards internal balance.
Childhood trauma-activating events causing dissociative physical and emotional dis-ease in
later life are mainly because of the experience of helplessness in relation to the trauma-
activating events (Levine & Frederick, 1997; Herman, 2001; Scaer, 2001; Van der Kolk,
2006; JOS, 2008). When the physiologically activated response, in reaction to the trauma-
activating event, cannot move through its normal neurological firing, this sequence is by-
passed and the activated response short-circuited to exclude normal integration (Fisher, 2006;
Van der Kolk, McFarlane & Weisaeth, 2007).
Dis-ease of traumatized individuals are somatically driven, and this is explained through
neuroscience findings that indicate that the trauma-activated feelings need to discharge the
fight-flight activated energy (Scaer, 2001; Van der Kolk, 2006). Ogden, Pain, Minton &
Fisher (2006), note that clients suffering from unresolved trauma nearly always report
unregulated body experience. This often results in uncontrollable cascades of unmanageable
strong emotions and physical experiences that replay in the body. Ogden et al (2006) state
that it is often this chronic physiological arousal that is at the root of recurring post-traumatic
symptoms for which the client seeks therapy. Ablack (2000) speaks of somatic trauma when
people who are traumatized manifests with dis-ease at a mind, body, heart and spirit level.
Sevenster (2007 & 2009), through qualitative research on 17 clients that have undergone
SHIP®, found some links between memory of traumatic stress memories, emotional material
and chronic gastrointestinal symptoms and chronic pain. According to Cozolino (2002),
Fisher (2006), LeDoux, (2002), Siegel (2007) and Zillmer & Spiers (2001) neuroscience
findings point to the fact that traumatic experiences alter neurological pathways. Dis-ease
such as body-image changes, eating disorders, emotional problems, addictive behaviours,
alexithymia and chronic physical dis-ease also indicate a dysregulated nervous system after
trauma-activating events (Herman, 2001; Fisher, 2006; LeDoux, 2002; Van der Kolk, 2006).
SHIP® theory divides the initial threat experience (internal trauma activation) of the external
trauma-activating event that causes severe imbalance and eventual chronic dis-ease in the
human system into the following three possibilities:
psychological threat – where emotional powerlessness is experienced in the light of
an intentional or unintentional threat to meaningfulness, e.g. the experience of
being victimised by a peer group, where there is severe energy activation in
the absence of physical hurt;
biological threat – when the physical experience is unexpected and unintentional, e.g.
being in a car crash, where there is severe energy activation due to physical
psychobiological threat – where intentional physical hurt is indicated and anticipated
and the person experiences powerlessness concerning the perceived physical
and emotional life-threatening situation, e.g. domestic violence and abuse, or
where it is unintentional, e.g. experiencing the unfolding of an inevitable
disaster (e.g. an advancing cyclone).
Once the above trauma-activating events activated the human system, it becomes a whole
SHIP® theory defines trauma as activated overwhelming internal involuntary physical and
emotional experiences resulting from a perceived external threat to the integrity of the person,
or others – it comprises uncompleted ominous feelings that make the person feel powerless,
fearful and distressed. The external event is thus not seen as the trauma, and the focus on
uncompleted experiences (disconnected trauma-activated energy) implies that the
(dissociated) person needs to complete the internal activated involuntary feelings, or else be
continuously reactivated by daily associative trauma activators. The authors of this article,
from their work in clinical practice, is of the opinion that the experience of, and reaction to,
trauma-activating circumstances is unique to each individual and to each particular trauma-
activating event. Complementary factors such as personal tolerance levels coloured by
genetic susceptibility and previous uncompleted traumatic experience(s) influence the
person’s relation to a current trauma-activating event.
Herman (2001) is of the opinion that childhood abuse and trauma is one of the main factors
that leads a person to seek psychological and psychiatric treatment as adults. She quotes data
that found 40 – 70 % of people seeking help, had abuse histories. The findings of the
American Psychiatric Association (APA) report by the task force on the biopsychosocial
consequences of childhood violence (2005) chaired by Paul J. Fink and Richard J.
Loewenstein support this. They state that:
Traumatic stress is the single most important contributor to later psychiatric morbidity
Traumatic stress is also a major etiological factor in medical morbidity and mortality,
as well as for high risk behaviors such as smoking, obesity, substance abuse, risky
sexual behaviors, STDs, and some of the most important public health problems.
According to Ford (2002) the development or childhood trauma, specifically caused by
biological alterations and severe psychosocial impairment, can persist into adulthood.
Herman (2002) defines the diagnostic criteria of Complex PTSD (victims of pro-longed
trauma since childhood) for these manifestations that would include features of somatisation,
affect lability, dissociation, impulsivity, interpersonal difficulties, and pathological changes
in personal identity (Friedman, 2006).
In their SHIP® psychotherapy with different clients (covering in excess of 80 000 SHIP®
sessions) the authors of this article found that clients manifesting with chronic dis-ease
(Complex PTSD), ultimately experienced surfacing trauma mostly dissociated from and
imprinted at ages below ten years. By creating a space during SHIP® wherein the chronic
dis-eases (spontaneous healing manifestations) were allowed a voice and followed to their
origin, it pointed to the fact that reactivated uncompleted childhood trauma is more
widespread and frequent than may be commonly realized and acknowledged. The
manifestation in later life as potential debilitating chronic dis-ease is the continuous effort on
the part of the system to gain attention and recognition of internal imbalance physically and
emotionally. Because childhood trauma happened such a long time ago, the link between the
adult’s current dis-tress is overlooked and the client gets labelled with various other
diagnoses (Herman, 2001).
Chronic internal trauma memory activation, usually in adult life, is referred to in SHIP® as
spontaneous healing reactions.
Spontaneous healing reactions (SHRs)
“As we know from the work of Bessel van der Kolk, Onno van der Hart, and Bruce
Perry, childhood trauma dramatically interferes with the body‟s ability to self-regulate
both psychologically and somatically.” (Fisher, 2000; p 1)
According to Hopper & Van der Kolk (2001) Pierre Janet during the late 1900’s was the first
clinician to clearly articulate that traumatic memory consisted of non-integrated sensory
experiences, emotional states, intrusive recollections, and behavioural re-enactments. Van
der Kolk & Fisler (1995) found in their research study on 46 subjects with PTSD that their
traumatic memories presented,
“... in the form of dissociated mental imprints of sensory and affective elements of the
traumatic experience: as visual, olfactory, affective, auditory and kinaesthetic
experiences” (p 505).
SHIP® defines SHRs as the interactive physical, emotional, cognitive / mental and spiritual
interconnected energy patterns that form part of our daily internal experiences to external
demands. It is also the natural holistic involuntary release process of activated trauma
memory. The activation of SHRs is similar to when a ruler is clamped in a vice and the loose
top section is pulled back and released - the finger pulling the ruler is the trauma activator
and the letting go resulting in the back and forth vibration is the internal trauma-activated
energy. Steenkamp (JOS, 2008) over a period of 25 years in clinical practice identified 1860
different variations and combinations of these SHRs in clients during SHIP® - the
manifestations may be perceived in any part of the body and include experiences such as
bodily distortions, spinning, palpitations, headaches, nausea, pain sensations, sadness, anger,
scary images, smells, sounds, etc. Although further research in SHRs is indicated, the type of
SHR seems to be predisposed by the experience value of the trauma.
Owing to misunderstanding of the importance of the experience value of SHRs during youth,
clients are denied expression, and the energy becomes disconnected – the person needs to
save face and cope and therefore the clamped ruler in the vice (mentioned above) is not
allowed to move into and through its vibratory release. From a SHIP® perspective trauma is
thus the stopping of SHRs. The subsequent experience by the person of the internal
activation within the system to release the SHRs (related to relatively recent trauma-
activating events) is commonly referred to in certain literature as “traumatisation”, and as
“PTSD” in others; if continually denied expression since childhood, the experiences later
becomes the Complex PTSD manifestations (all the feelings that are held down that are
breaking through), where the original external trauma-activating event(s) got lost in historical
translation (Herman, 2001).
The internal unfolding and releasing of these SHRs is a psychobiodynamic process.
Psychobiodynamic encompasses the following complementary areas of integration during
SHIP® with the rest of the system towards balance:
psycho - refers to the current psychological experiences (e.g. emotional pain, such as
anger, sadness, anxiety, in relation to all encounters);
bio - refers to the involuntary sensory experiences and / or physical reactions (e.g.
particular smells, dizziness, physical pain such as spasms in the body); and
dynamic – refers to the suppressed, unresolved / uncompleted past experiences
projected onto and contaminating the present (e.g. childhood sexual
The above mentioned unresolved / uncompleted past experiences are lodged in the person’s
system through the process of disconnection.
Disconnected is a term that implies that the actual energy activation of experiences that are
too painful or unacceptable to release and express through the normal channel of SHRs, is
encoded and concealed in human existence (Herman, 2001; JOS, 2008). According to Van
Zyl (2006) “restriction is part and parcel of excessive invasion” (p 7), similar to the iris of
the eye that contracts when too much light enters the pupil. LeDoux (2002) concludes that
defensive action to trauma bypasses the thinking, conscious part of the brain. SHIP® theory
agrees and advocates that initially when the too intense trauma-activated energy information
becomes suppressed, the suppression process takes place involuntarily as a self-preservation
mechanism (Steenkamp, 1991). The memory of the trauma that may be locked in the system,
is due to the internal free-flowing, too-intense energy activated by the trauma-activating
event that is transformed into on-hold energy. It is a frame in time that has become
immobile, resonating at a much lower than par vibration. Sevenster (2007), from her study
on chronic pain, postulates that the neurological system and the connective tissue surrounding
all bodily tissues (including muscle fibres) can capture psychological trauma. Barker (2001)
maintains that what has been rejected and suppressed lives on in the molecular structure of
our psyche. Pert (1997) refers to the trauma information messengers within the body as
molecules of emotion and says that these neuropeptides and their receptors link the major
systems (neural, immune and endocrine) into a multidirectional body-mind network of
communication. The molecules of emotion are cellular signals that are involved in the
process of translating information into physical reality, literally transforming mind into
matter. Memories are specifically stored in the ubiquitous receptors between nerves and
bundles of cell bodies called ganglia, which extend all the way along the chemical pathways
to internal organs and the surface of the skin. Each emotion is thus experienced throughout
the person (Pert, 1997). This ties in with SHRs during SHIP®; that they appear and release
through any part of the body. According to Pert the neuropeptide receptors also decide and
mediate whether a trauma memory should be stored at the neuropeptide receptors (some
occurring deep in the interior of the cell at the very root of the receptor) or should rise to
awareness. The unconscious and disconnection thus depend on cell-receptor functioning.
Pert sees the body as the unconscious and that disconnection of emotional and physical
trauma information can, through the blocking of receptors, be stored indefinitely at cellular
level (Pert, 1997). Upledger (2001), founder of CranioSacral Therapy (specific manipulation
and manual facilitation of the body to promote healing), notes that:
Soon we understood that these energy cysts (suppressed compacted SHRs – authors’
insert) and tissue memories were not limited to physical phenomena. Quite often we
saw that the release of an energy cyst from a patient‟s body was accompanied by the
re-experiencing of an emotion that was related to the injury (p 39).
Fisher and Ogden (2009), in their treating model of complex traumatic stress disorders, come
to the conclusion that when individuals experience overwhelming emotional and physical
threat, the prefrontal cortical activity in the brain is inhibited as the mind and body prepare
for the defensive operations of flight fright, freeze or submission. These automatic survival
responses can persist in the form of symptoms of PTSD long after the original traumatic
According to Meggersee (2007) the disconnected emotion, “… becomes locked into the
physical structure constricting the life energy flow” (p 101). The normal free flow
communication becomes restricted and may come to a gradual halt. Because it takes a lot of
energy to go against the stream of free-flowing energy, the system will become unbalanced,
and dis-ease may occur. This is in agreement with research done by Pert (1997) that since
emotional expression is always tied to a specific flow of peptides in the body (a constellation
of bodily changes occur with each shift of subjective feeling), the chronic suppression of
emotions results in a denial of access to the cell by natural peptides vital for cell and whole
organism functioning and health. The disconnected information has now become
psychobiodynamic, with the potential to cause a massive disturbance in the individual
The individual specific field (ISF)
A person’s healthy vibrating energy field, or ISF, which is specific to the individual (although
there is a human commonality) and with which he / she enters the world, can be visualized as
a hologram, or a three-dimensional energy field, of the person that connects and links
everything to everything else, both intra- and inter-systemically. It represents all the
dimensions of the person and experiences and happenings (the unified network of past,
present and potential future events and relationships). It is thus an information system that is
flowing, interactive and expressive, acting like a web of pathways that uses the body and its
senses as the vehicle for experiencing the ISF and through which the ISF is expressed. The
meaning of the ISF is to experience all of itself.
The ISF acts as a template and pathway for communicating the energy of disconnected
information, dis-ease, spontaneous healing and connectedness. Disconnection adversely
affects the free flowing energy of the potentialities within the ISF.
Potentialities, potentiality freeze and trauma-chain
According to Pert (2009) emotions exist both as energy and matter, in the vibrating receptors
on every cell in the body. The authors of this article are of the opinion that on a subatomic
level vibrations form potentialities that make up, and are embedded within, the ISF. It is
postulated that these potentialities are an interactive communication network of dancing
molecules with receptors functioning as portholes to transmit the vibrations or energy
information back and forth. On a larger scale it represents the person’s way of translating
himself or herself reactively and proactively in everyday situations.
A further postulate is that SHRs are part and parcel of the vibrations inherent within a
potentiality. During the disconnection of the SHRs the particular potentialities affected by
trauma-activating events are closed off to the outside world through the act of receptor
inhibition. SHIP® refers to this closing off of the potentialities as potentiality freeze.
Different frozen potentialities / SHRs (trauma) form the links that make up (chaining) the
SHIP® theory advocates that the longer the SHRs are ignored, the more intense the internal
metaphoric rebellion for attention through psychobiodynamic translators.
A compromised system in metaphoric rebellion
As in all living systems, the human system shifts energy through different processes. When
this is not allowed due to disconnection / on-hold energy, retaliation will happen. Newton’s
third law states that: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. When you
fight something you fuel its internal animosity. Such is the nature of the beast. Prince (2003)
sees this as a universal reaction and found that in group settings when a person experienced a
perceived threat to meaningfulness, even if not so intended by the other, an opposite and
equal revenge or flight reaction results. Similarly SHRs has the need for identity -
denigrating and denying this translation will create an explosive retaliation in search of
internal connectedness (JOS, 2008). SHIP® theory says that, “Where there is inward energy
freeze, there will be an eventual reciprocal disparate outward energy sneeze.”
Scaer (2001), states that disconnection appears to be the most critical element contributing to
the physical symptoms of traumatisation. Recent research results by McGowan et al (2009)
underscores these psychobiodynamic reactions by showing definite changes in the brains of
people who were abused (severe physical abuse, severe neglect and sexual abuse) as children.
The researchers found that childhood abuse alters a specific gene called the neuron-specific
glucocorticoid receptor, and that the abused victims had a lowered activity of this gene (Fox,
2009). Trauma thus affects the normal communication patterns within, resulting in potential
biochemical imbalances. A client describes how, on being diagnosed with an underarm
lymph node, she had to undergo a sonar and saw the image on the sonar photo as a tornado
with a little hole at the centre. During SHIP® she is asked to visualise this image and enter it
so that spontaneous healing could ignite the information concealed in that part of her system:
I see that spiral and I see that I am going in and it is as if I am entering an
underworld of childhood misery and I don‟t want to (cries) and it feels to me it is dark
and damp there and it is a place I just really do not want to be at (cries). I have this
down spiral that I have to descend and I realize that I have nothing to hold onto, and
it‟s alone (cries). I have this constant feeling of, “Don‟t scold me daddy” (cries).
Through this lymph node image she entered the unchartered waters of her opposite dark night
of the soul, the destiny of her childhood dis-ease lodged in her psychobiodynamic suitcase.
According to Pert (1997) disconnected information suspended in the cell membrane alters
and interrupts the electron flow generated by the mitochondria. Depositing information at the
base of the receptor, and due to receptor inhibition, accumulated information cannot be
discharged through the normal act of vibratory release (in what amounts to SHRs in SHIP ®) –
it has become a vicarious ticket to potential chaos. Blockages and insufficient flow of
peptide signals to maintain cellular function is what sets up the weakened conditions that can
lead to disease (Pert, 1997). From a SHIP® perspective the reflection of the above client’s
dis-ease history in the Now, due to its opposite, disconnected / on-hold energy, indicates
migration from the emotional to the physical, and an eventual altering of the physical
appearance of, and functioning within, her limbic system. In SHIP® it is said that, “If you do
not express you will explode.” Too much on-hold will implode – if the person stores too
much trauma-activated energy over time the compacted arrested SHRs will eventually exceed
its critical mass, leading to implosion, which may present itself in an internal explosion (dis-
ease). Van Zyl (2006) says on the manifestation of pain due to disconnection, “When we
open up the experience of pain, and look into its fundamental nature, we see that pain is the
extreme expression of, and a call to, a polarity” (p 10). According to the authors of this
article this polarity, or opposite phenomenon is applicable to all dis-ease experiences. The
law of SHIP® tells us that for all manifested dis-ease there exists its equal disconnected /
unconscious energy counterpart.
Pinker (2007) refers to George Lakoff as the strongest advocate that the metaphor it is an
essential part of thought. Pinker (2007, p 254) quotes Lakoff & Johnson (1980) who say that,
“Our ordinary conceptual system, in terms of which we both think and act, is fundamentally
metaphoric in nature.” Apparently mental life starts with non-metaphorical experiences,
such as emotions, actions and sensations that are inherent and that engage with the physical
world. This then paves the way for conceptual metaphors that are acquired through a kind of
associative conditioning (Pinker, 2007). SHIP® theory states that the metaphor conceived by
the ISF in response to the disconnection becomes the rebellious mechanism, the associative
link and reminder, through which to explode, expose and translate the internal restriction,
irregularity and resulting imbalance. The metaphor is illuminating and symbolizing the right
to, and importance of, existence, identity and free expression. According to Jung, the symbol
is the object of mediating (Miller, 2004) and we can say that its function is to serve as a
platform so that residual disconnected painful information of the trauma-chain may be
regurgitated and presented in a workable medium that the person can relate to. The ISF will
psychobiodynamically re-enact and translate unresolved / uncompleted manifestations and
events repetitively through the medium of the selected metaphors or psychobiodynamic
translators. Hollis (2001) agrees with the aforementioned and adds that the narrower the
frame of the person’s conscious, the more his / her personal script plays out as fate. Hollis
quotes Jung who observed that what is denied inwardly will come to the person as Fate. This
is the spontaneous healing cycle, the re-enactment revealing that which needs to complete.
Through this act, referred to as the psychobiodynamic healing script (which means there will
be a chronic repeat of the same eventual psychobiological feeling of despair of not making
life work successfully) the person is continuously and selectively brought face to face with
the fact that internal unresolved / uncompleted issues need attention. The process of re-
enactment is framed in SHIP® as, “That which you chronically try and avoid is what you will
SHIP® distinguishes the following two subcategories of psychobiodynamic translators in
relation to the locations where the psychobiodynamic healing script is translated and re-
Intra-translator (Intra-psychobiodynamic trauma-chain translators)
These metaphoric expressions translate psychobiodynamically through a
person’s internal ISF with repetitive explosive somatic manifestations in
locations such as chronic pain in the lower back, in the stomach, in the head,
sadness in the heart, etc. Within the intra-translator is hidden the unresolved /
uncompleted feelings such as powerless, anger, physical trauma, etc.
Inter-translator (Inter-psychobiodynamic trauma-chain translators)
These metaphoric expressions work through the person’s external ISF through
projection issue statements such as,
“I always have to prove myself.”
“Relationships don‟t work for me.”
“People make me feel I‟m never good enough.”
According to SHIP® theory a person’s experience of his / her external world is
a mere reflection / projection of their internal world. A trauma-chain starting
from early youth will therefore be experienced or explode externally through
the inter-translator, e.g. in specific locations such as feelings experienced in
relation to a spouse, people at work, etc. To date 11 subcategories of SHIP®
inter-translators have been identified and their significance is currently under
research in THE SHIP® FOUNDATION.
SHIP® theory states that the disconnected / on-hold energy (the frozen potentialities) link
together into a trauma-chain that eventually presents itself through these psychobiodynamic
translators. The psychobiodynamic intra- and inter-translators are also interdependent and
usually occur in unison. They are windows allowing us to time-travel into a past that is
presenting itself in the present, similar to some of the many thousands of stars in the night sky
whose light we see only now, even though they have long since perished (Hawking, 2001).
So it is with these trauma-chain disclosures; through current events they release information
on trauma-activating events that no longer exist, but their disconnected, stuck energy is a
constant reminder that the process of SHRs has been blocked earlier in the person’s life. In
this way intra- and inter-translators are selected locations where unresolved / uncompleted
pain from the past co-conspire to free the future in order that the person may live his / her life
in sync with their ISF.
When the person does not fit into his / her ISF, there is a sense of alienation and the
additional function of metaphoric psychobiodynamic translators (chronic dis-ease) is to
express this debilitating and emotionally exhausting chronic experience of alienation, of a life
lived at the expense of free flowing energy. The psychobiodynamic translator (such as
chronic pain) is one of the potential resulting metaphoric messages highlighting the need for
self-actualization – it is trapped energy in need of expression.
The more frozen potentialities a person has in relation to accessible translator potentialities,
the more the person’s natural ISF is compromised, the more intense the psychobiodynamic
translators will manifest to emphasize, and initiate, the need for healing, integration and
balance. The message conveyed through the metaphoric rebellion is that the person is
important enough to be told that a shift is required in energy focus from living at the expense
of the ISF to living for the benefit of the ISF. In this sense the individual’s life is judged by
the ISF as fitting into the ISF and expressing the ISF.
Translator potentialities also serve to protect the integrity of the person. When the system
becomes flooded by external demands, the person’s natural boundary has been penetrated, the
on-hold SHRs are disturbed and the system goes into a super-aroused vigilant coping state. A
selection of the potentialities become highlighted and acts as distracters in order to guard the
person from the perceived external attack and the subsequent release of the internal on-hold
energy. The distracters then function as controlled short-term survival strategies (usually any
too-muchness behaviour), allowing the person to conform and perform appropriately,
ensuring that the SHRs cannot come to fruition. Acting-in (dependency) distracters would be
too much smoking, drinking, etc., while acting-out (controlling) distracters would be
activities such as too much gym, anger displays, etc (Strydom, 2009).
When the person’s frenetic life of distraction fails to the task, professional distracters may be
searched. This is done to create a more suitable reality, be it through pain killers or whatever
other professional medium. In their work with clients suffering from trauma, the authors of
this article have found that medication prescribed to clients by their medical providers at best
buys time, but do not resolve trauma, and often many clients end up with side-effects from
The process of spontaneous healing is an internal dialogue thwarted by distracters. It was
Hollis (2001) who said that the chief pathology of our time is the capacity of the world to
distract us from this conversation with ourselves. Friedman (2006) lists some hyper arousal
manifestations (e.g. irritability, hyper vigilance and exaggerated startle reaction) as part of
PTSD clusters. SHIP® theory views these experiences as trauma-chain indicators that have
been activated as a need to take conscious control over the discomfort / helpless feelings of
the activated internal trauma-chain. Friedman (2006) assesses the latest strategies (CBT,
EMDR, and psychodynamic psychotherapy) for trauma treatments and concludes that, “CBT
has proven to be the best treatment for PTSD in the current published literature” (p 36). The
major emphasis of these CBT modalities focuses on changing the client’s experience to a less
threatening one concerning the external threat. The focus of SHIP® is not to change a client’s
experience or to distract them from the internal activated SHRs, but for the client to complete
the internal trauma-chain, and change will happen by itself.
The psychobiodynamic translators and other metaphoric / associative images are used in the
Healing Space as SHIP® activators in the process towards integration.
The Healing Space (HS): Unlocking potential
Validation remains the best form of medicating.
Eliade (1959) is of the opinion that, “Every sacred space implies hierophany, an irruption of
the sacred that results in detaching a territory from the surrounding cosmic milieu and
making it qualitatively different” (p 26). Lidov (2008), in turn, initiates the term Hierotopy
(from the Greek hieros = sacred, and topos = space) for the study of a particular field of
creating sacred spaces. According to Lidov, during the Byzantine culture there were specific
creative people who were responsible for an entire project of sacred space realized in a
particular church, or any environment. Lidov links the thread to today’s artistic creators of
Quinn (2000) also refers to a sacred space, a shift in consciousness of the client (that is
created by the “healer”) towards recognition that there is an innate tendency within any self-
organizing system towards wholeness, integration, and transcendence. Ablack (2000) says
that, “If I as a therapist can hold a space where you as a client are able to explore your rage
and make a healthy relationship with it, then you as a client will be provided with fuel for
your recovery towards health” (p 149). In order to tap into, and communicate with the
wisdom of the ISF, the SHIP® facilitator creates the most suitable setting for
psychobiodynamic awareness of internal processes of disconnection to surface to connection.
The climate and parameters of the SHIP® sacred space or HS is one of non-judgemental,
respect, trust, validation and patience. Where a hierotopy practitioner creates a sacred space
for spiritual enhancement, the SHIP® facilitator’s reframing of the intention of the dis-ease
energy to spontaneous healing forms part of the created potential for a sacred healing climate.
Within the HS, the assumption for further facilitation of a dis-ease energy such as chronic
pain, is that the person’s ISF knows more about his / her spontaneous healing process than
any professional ever can. The message conveyed to the client is, “You are OK, you can do
it, you are good enough, and I trust you and your system‟s ability to heal itself.” This forms
part of the continuous psychoeducation (reframing) during the client’s psychotherapy
concerning the point of reference of SHIP®. Due to the uniqueness of each individual’s
process, the facilitator must know and be able to read the spontaneous healing patterns and
cues on when to engage and when to stand back. Within the HS the client is brought in
contact with the responsibility of his / her healing. A client in SHIP® said after a major
breakthrough, “Nobody can help me, it resides within me.”
Instead of the SHIP® facilitator being an analyst, the position adopted is that of a catalyst: the
facilitator keeps the client in the experience of internal connectedness in the form of energy
release through SHRs. SHIP® was the first to point out that spontaneous healing is located in
involuntary movements – they happen by themselves and cannot be commanded to heal
(Steenkamp, 1991). Weissman (2005) has similar ideas that the disconnected information
(emotions = energy in motion), “… keep banging against the locked door, sending out below-
the-radar messages to your physical body through the autonomic nervous system (ANS)” (p
67). The focus should not be on trying to change the experiences, since that would constitute
distracting once more. It is the distraction that is the result of disconnection, so within the
SHIP® HS clients are continuously encouraged to passively stay with their physical and
emotional experiences, and to focus on those sensations as they arise (JOS, 2008). Prolonged
Exposure (PE) Therapy follows similar lines whereby the client is asked to visualize the
trauma-activating event(s) (later in vivo experiences are added) while repeating the narrative
several times during a single session (Paunovic & Ost, 2001).
There are also similarities between SHIP® principles and the sensorimotor psychotherapy
where the so-called top-down and bottom-up interventions are incorporated (Ogden et al,
2006). These interventions, according to Ogden et al, also address the repetitive, unbidden,
physical sensations, movement inhibitions, and somato-sensory intrusions of trauma.
Waldspurger Robb (2006) states that a, “… catalyst is the energetic vehicle for the healing to
begin” (p 70). Most deep emotions and feelings won’t reveal themselves when not provoked,
and the SHIP® facilitator utilises activators (the client’s historical trauma experiences
presented through the narrative medium of images, thoughts, dream contents, and other
metaphors) to illicit further glimpses of those childhood traumas and to stimulate and expose
the healing response (SHRs). Apart from the personal activators supplied by the client, there
are approximately 200 additional activators developed in SHIP®. Normally, when external
activators of any kind overpower the coping style and its distracters, the system enters
spontaneous healing. Activated feelings such as sadness, usually move the person towards
distracting behaviour and within the HS the person’s translation of the distracter potentialities
is neutralised (the client is lying on a bed and is being discouraged from taking any voluntary
action) and this allows the traumas within the trauma-chain to remain exposed and unfreeze
its SHR energy / vibrations. One of the requirements for spontaneous healing is: Don’t try to
heal. A client in SHIP® said: What fascinates me about SHIP® is the thing that you don‟t
avoid, becomes the thing you can let go. SHIP® resembles what Van Zyl (2006) refers to as
“an immersion technique, of going into the feelings and symptoms, almost like taking a
journey within and through the symptom sensations” (p 11) and to “Sink into and merge with
the discomfort, negative affect or mood” (p 12). This reminds of Mindfulness, a practice that
has its roots in Buddhism, and that has been defined as “intentionally paying attention to
present-moment experience (physical sensations, perceptions, affective states, thoughts, and
imagery) in a non-judgmental way, thereby cultivating a stable and nonreactive awareness”
(Carmody et al, 2008; p 394). In the words of Dyer (2007) for creating the most appropriate
space for the release of the rising SHRs you should,
“Turn all your attention to becoming open-minded, allowing permissiveness to
befriend the mystery within yourself. Notice how the feeling manifest itself: perhaps
doing „loop-de-loops‟ in your stomach, giving a rigidness to your skeleton, making
your heart pound, or tightening your throat. Wherever it is, allow it as enigmatic
messenger within you, and give it nonjudgmental attention. Accept whatever comes.
Encounter the mystery within without labeling, explaining, or defending” (p 6).
So, within the HS, the psychobiodynamic translator (e.g. chronic pain) is followed to its
origin (the psychobiodynamic imprint caused by the actual trauma-activating event) and
potential on-hold energy is transformed into the kinetic energy of SHRs and potentiality-
release (unfreezed). Where the metaphoric healing sites become the tanslator for connection
of the uncompleted painful past, the SHRs are the release of the disconnected energy to
migrate to connectedness and integration. This may often lead to a chain reaction of energy
release of the trauma-chain. The migration to connectedness therefore depends on expression
of the SHRs, and these very same unexpressed SHRs are maintaining the gap between
disconnection and connectedness.
The fact that the atmosphere of the SHIP® HS is one of unconditional regard when the on-
hold information is released, implies that there is no repetition as during the trauma-activating
event(s) of imposed pain (e.g. powerless) when those potentialities were exposed. This
allows the released energy to integrate, and the internal balance is restored. Similar to the
outwards energy ripples caused by a stone striking the water’s surface, a healing climate such
as the SHIP® HS allows energy to release from dis-ease (on-hold energy) to ease (free
flowing energy). Like Charon on the River Styx (RDGED, 1974) the HS has served its
purpose – it created the bridge, the crossover, so that the two polar worlds could meet and
Integration and balance
That which you are experiencing is what you need to experience
so that you won‟t have to experience it again.
What a person fears, is what they need to unfreeze and release. A SHIP® client used the
metaphor of the princess that had to embrace the frog and its ugliness, before it could
transform into the handsome prince. Steenkamp (1991), Janov (2001), and JOS (2008)
emphasize that in order for the disconnected feelings to heal, it is essential to feel the original
painful psychobiological sensation as it felt at the time of disconnection. Knowing the cause
of the dis-ease does not change the psychobiodynamics and can lead at best to a short-term
distraction. In this sense SHIP® differs from psychodynamic psychotherapy that advocates
that the client’s insight into the repressed memories of the traumatic event, and their effect on
symptoms, will aid in restoring psychological balance (Friedman, 2006). A client in SHIP®
said, “When I was a child my father used to beat me up, it was always against my head, and
the one I remember very well was banging my head against the wall.” The frozen
potentialities of each of the links in her trauma-chain need to go through its unique SHR
cycle of unfreeze, release and integration with the rest of her potential coping style
configuration. In this way integration can be seen as the frozen potentialities being released
of their accumulated SHRs. For disconnected SHRs coming into existence, the client needs
to hold / affirm that moment of existence. This is a sensory process of coming into contact
with the effect of trauma stored in the ISF, and as quoted by Atkinson (1995) from À la
recherché du temps perdu, (“…the power of sensation to retrieve memories and reverse
time”) (p 210); also in JOS (2008) where it is stated, “…the way it originally felt as a too-
muchness and thus became disconnected” (p 176). When the trauma-energy releases, when
the issue is removed from the tissue and the person has read the memory field successfully
through the psychobiodynamic translator, the metaphoric rebellion is cancelled. The
disconnected energy configuration has been reversed (see: Appendix A; p 24-25).
In addition to integrating the potentiality freeze in the system, the client in SHIP ® also needs
to integrate the sense of time lost, of living a compromised life, of time that can never be
retrieved, of the person in relation to himself or herself and to the external world. The
function of psychobiodynamic translators such as chronic pain is partly to initiate
communication with this painful loss and the purpose of integration is the release of this
sense of loss through the act of spontaneous healing. A client of 62 said: I know I cannot
catch up with what I‟ve lost, I can just return to fullness, once the old arrested stuff has been
According to Pert (1997) a system is healthy when the feedback loops between peptides and
receptors are rapid and unimpeded. When emotions are expressed – which is to say that the
biochemicals that are the substrate of emotions are flowing freely – all systems are united and
made whole. The focus of SHIP® is towards a balanced distribution of this energy
throughout the ISF. Integration and release of the on-hold energy through SHIP® implies that
there will not be a sole reliance on a particular coping style. Barker (2001) frames it that
when the coping style realizes its right to rest, other members of the internal tribe emerge. In
other words, the imploded potentialities have become open to the experience of expression
once again. Although history cannot be changed through any psychotherapy, SHIP® creates
the space wherein historical issues of contention become resolved. This means that the SHRs
and psychobiodynamic translators are in service of, and restore, the ISF.
The implication for dis-ease is that should the polarities / opposites integrate, dis-ease will
reverse from manifestation to nothingness – it will cease to exist. This type of thinking is in
accordance with most antique Eastern philosophies (Van Zyl, 2006), with modern science
catching up through movements such as quantum mechanics. The implication is that if you
know something fully (psychobiodynamically) you transcend it. We can say that for
something to fully exist, it has to be nothing. “Nothing” in this sense means everything or
Oneness, a complete integration, which in turn is the fertile soil for all possible future
configurations. The energy potentialities previously caught up in trauma will thus be
available for future use and the person may freely capitalize in on them as needed.
Integration and clarity of perception are living a complementary life – when there is more of
the one, there is more of the other.
SHIP® clarifies perception
We create meaning to understand –
When we stop creating meaning,
When we let go of the metaphor,
We see truth.
Trauma-activating events during youth give rise to disconnection resulting in an exclusive
coping configuration. That which is denied lives through the inter-translator. When a person
presents with psychobiodynamic translators, there is an accompanying compromised
perception – disconnection has thus affected perception in that reality is exchanged for the
limitations of exclusivity. The obsessive drive of spontaneous healing to act upon the
narrowing of consciousness and move towards the absence of compromised expression,
shows itself in the following statement by Hollis (2005) that, “We all live with expensive
ghosts in memory‟s unmade bed, for what we do not remember remember us nonetheless” (p
20). All experiences are a reflection of a person’s internal world since they take him or her
there. When the internal on-hold energy has not been completed (released / assimilated /
integrated) the amount and type of disconnected information will be complementary affected
by associative external activators. The more severe the disconnection, the more severe the
internal world of the person will be flooded by the historical receptor baggage.
New information that is received ignites on-hold information within the receptors, firing the
messages that have not completed and that block the way. The conveyer belt can only carry
so much at a time and new information cannot enter unhindered if history has not been
cleared. With perception, the sequence that is firing (the message through neurotransmitters)
results in a mixing of the current incoming message with the on-hold information, causing
projection (inter-translators). In this way the same message is being re-activated
continuously, but due to SHR inhibition, it is not allowed to move through its cycle. That
which cannot express fully cannot continue and any uncomfortable repetition indicates
uncompleted experiences. People keep on searching (projecting) for the perfect healing
moment and mostly do not recognize it when it appears. A person can only see what he / she
sees – it is similar to playing an old LP record with a scratch on and all it does when you give
it energy / electricity, is playing the same line over and over. Perception has become a
perpetuating conditioned response created by the original trauma(s). In SHIP® language it is
said that, “The person that chronically defines / translates / expresses the problem is the one
with the problem and the one that should go through healing.” The repetitive nature of the
inter-translator as an exposure of internal healing potential gave rise to the saying in SHIP®,
“Projection always returns to its owner.”
Deep internal integration detoxifying transition in SHIP® from disconnected to connected
results in more intra- and inter-systemic clarity, because the disconnected information that
was injected into the perception has cleared. A SHIP® client that went through major
psychobiodynamic integration over a period of 18 months said, “I have so much clarity now,
to see my family‟s internal struggle and yet to be able to remain detached involved. It‟s a
major shift and enlightenment for me.” If all the links (traumas) in the trauma-chain have
gone through the SHRs, there will be no disconnected energy to feed the intra- and inter-
translators and they will remain absent - the previous exclusive coping configuration becomes
more inclusive, the blinker perception becomes enlightened. The authors of this article agree
with Van Zyl (2006) that, “This new position or perspective happens spontaneously, of its
own accord” (p 19), it is the natural outflow of the process of connectedness and integration.
This differs from Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) that assists clients in challenging and
modifying their “erroneous beliefs” (inter-translators) that the person generated following
trauma (Friedman, 2006).
SHIP® theory states that internal integration is a pre-requisite for external clarity – a person
can only see the world in so far as he / she can see himself / herself - everything a person
selects is something they project. Schmidt (2004) refers to this phenomena as the,
“…symmetry between someone‟s relationship with the outer word and his or her inner world.
All the qualities of the inner relationships with the self will also be reflected in outer
relationships” (p 8). In the same vein the world changes as we change, and so, if you want to
heal the external universe, first heal the internal universe – or differently stated, if you want
to find truth, embrace internal growth. And clarity will ensue.
Growth through SHIP®
From a developmental viewpoint, when the energy presentation of a coping style, through
SHRs, resets to the ISF, there will be the addition of new internal assimilation of the external
input. Metzner (1997) refers to this process as the return journey of transformation, an
awakening and death-rebirth, and a raising of consciousness. The authors of this article also
witnessed clients in SHIP® experiencing spiritual growth as a natural outflow of integration.
Koenig et al (2004) and Carmody et al (2007) on their discussion of Mindfulness link a sense
of inner meaning and peace to spiritual well-being, which implies that the person has gained,
through this process, additional awareness. Psychobiodynamic translators could therefore be
seen as movements towards psychobiospiritual enhancement.
According to Whitley (2002) a qualitative approach to research tends to follow a humanistic
view whereas the quantitive approach favours the logical positivistic view of science.
Whitley (2002) says that, “Qualitative data consist of nonnumerical information, such as
descriptions of behaviour or the content of people‟s responses to interview questions” (p 32 -
33). Silverman (2005) discusses the study of naturally occurring data in clinical practice,
“...that assesses what people are routinely up to ... without being asked by a researcher” (p
120). Dane & Pratt (2007) argue that creative problem solving may come more readily to
those who understand intuition and allow space for rationality (the idea on how you got to
your conclusions) and intuition to coexist. Susman & Evered (1978) refer to the systematic
integration of application, evaluation and theory as action research. The previous all form
part of the naturalistic paradigm and includes the following concerning research in SHIP®
(Lincoln & Guba, 1985; Strauss & Corbin, 1990; Kagan, 2002; Schoeman, 2003):
Qualitative research is carried out in the natural setting (SHIP®) with the SHIP®
facilitator in interaction with clients (purposive case study examples) as the data-
gathering instruments, as well as the intuitive knowledge of the researcher added to the
emerging data (grounded-theory – where the theory emerges from the data rather than
the data confirming already produced theories) and emerging research design (which is
a function of the interaction between inquirer and phenomenon and is therefore
unpredictable in advance) during the process of tentatively negotiating meaning and
interpretation from the clients’ experiences and perceptions during SHIP®.
Patterns occur repeatedly in the psychotherapeutic context, and if these patterns cannot be
explained in currently acceptable terms, then whatever does explain them should be sought,
and the categories of what is currently acceptable should be adjusted accordingly. To
improve treatment modalities, practitioners and theorists alike should be receptive to the
evolvement of new ideas and insights into clients’ energy patterns.
SHIP®, as a medium for the expression of trauma and suppressed identity, is a
psychotherapeutic model that has been developed over many years. The authors owe the
initial spark that guided and helped shape SHIP® to naturalistic research on spontaneous
energy patterns that were emerging from clients during their psychotherapies. These
spontaneous energy patterns are never isolated events, and during the years preceding the
writing of this article thousands of accumulated energy manifestations from clients in SHIP®
were processed, recurring phenomena, common denominators and patterns were identified
and studied experientially and hypotheses were formulated and tested. Over time the ideas
were further fine tuned with the discovery of previous missing links and introduced and
integrated into a more effective practical model. Although many of the concepts discussed in
this article are in SHIP® language, they form part of an age-old drama in the ongoing search
for an improved healing programme.
SHIP® has been successful in facilitating the spontaneous healing patterns of clients with
PTSD, Complex PTSD, chronic anxiety states, spastic colon, GI symptoms, chronic pain,
allergic reactions, sweaty hands and feet, spells of hyperventilation, intense tiredness,
depression, chronic urinary tract infection, chronic memory loss and chronic chest pains, and
underachievement on an IQ score (Steenkamp, 1991; Sevenster 2007 & 2009). SHIP® also
resulted in intra-systemic changes (changes inside the client - intrapersonally) giving rise to
inter-systemic changes (changes outside of the client – interpersonally), the reduction in
symptom substitution, an increase in life-energy and spontaneity, positively complemented
existing biological orientated treatment modalities for cochlear implant patients, and
indicated that it is necessary to treat clients with psychosomatic symptoms
(psychobiodynamic translators) on a psychobiological / intra-systemic level (Steenkamp,
1991; Schoeman, 2003).
We have much to learn, but not knowing something does not mean it does not exist, it simply
means we don’t know it yet. A client diagnosed with cancer put it eloquently:
My immune system is just a reflection, a physical manifestation, of a limiting belief.
From practical experience the authors of this article are of the opinion that psychobiodynamic
translators can be validated correctly and allowed to release naturally, resulting in the
clearing of clogged-up, disconnected energy. This clearing of energy complements the life-
long search for identity, acceptance, fitting in and living a purposeful life. Even though
feedback from clients is the final test, it is in the interests of the profession of psychology and
interdisciplinary management of clients with chronic psychobiodynamic translators to focus
on and explore further evidence-based SHIP®. In this way we may not only contribute to the
general knowledge on psychobiodynamic manifestations, but become potentially more
effective in less time (SHIP® is long term psychotherapy), and reach more people in need of a
qualitative intervention program.
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Appendix A: The SHIP® Psychobiodynamic Healing Script Enfolds the Following