Learn more about Primal Therapy and our center’s purpose.

Basic Theory

The following is taken from Why You Get Sick – How You Get Well by Dr. Arthur Janov and reviews some of the basic theory behind Primal Therapy.

Why You Get Sick - How You Get Well by Dr. Arthur Janov

There is one neurosis, many manifestations and one cure feeling.’”

Repressed pain divides the self in two, and each side wars with the other. One is the real self, loaded with needs and pain that are submerged; the other is the unreal self that attempts to deal with the outside world by trying to fulfill unmet needs with neurotic habits or behaviors such as obsessions or addictions. The split of the self is the essence of neurosis, and neurosis can kill. 
That pain is the result of needs and feelings that have gone unfulfilled in early life. Those early unmet needs create what I call Primal Pain. Coming close to death at birth or feeling unloved as a child are examples of such Pain. The Pain goes unfelt at the time because the body is not equipped to experience it fully and deal with it. When the Pain is too much, it is repressed and stored away. When enough unresolved Pain has occurred, we lose access to our feelings and become neurotic. 

The number one killer in the world today is not cancer or heart disease, it is repression.

Primal Therapy is important in the field of psychology, for it means, ultimately, the end to so much suffering in human beings. Discovering a way to treat Pain means there is a way to stop the misery in which so many of us are mired every day of our lives. After two decades of research, after dealing with thousands of patients with every imaginable psychological and physical affliction, we have arrived at a precise, predictable therapy that reduces the amount of time one spends in treatment and eliminates all the wasted motion. It is a therapy that has been investigated by independent scientists, and the findings are consistent. Primal Therapy is able to reduce or eliminate a host of physical and psychic ailments in a relatively short period of time with lasting results.

Feeling Pain is the end of suffering.

We have found ways to measure the ongoing presence and chronic effects of early trauma. We have observed time and again that even though it is not felt, the force of the memory remains in the system, reverberating on lower brain levels and moving against the body wherever it happens to be vulnerable. It shapes our interests, values, motivations and ideas. By reliving these traumas, patients can return back to early events and know with certainty how they formed adult behavior and symptoms.

Repression is the hidden force behind illness.

We can see how buried memories constantly activate the system, putting pressure on vital organs and creating disruptions that can eventually result in serious illness. The problem for too many of us is that suddenly we find ourselves with afflictions or obsessions and have no idea how it all happened. We don’t know why we can’t sleep, why we can’t find a mate, why we are obsessed with this idea or that or why we don’t function as we want to sexually. Primal Therapy can clarify these seeming mysteries. 

It sometimes seems that everyone is suffering in their own way, and few are aware of it. Television is riddled with ads for ibuprofen, aspirin, sleeping pills and other pain killers, implicitly acknowledging the Pain we are all in but without ever acknowledging it explicitly. Nothing dramatic happens, but so many of us have developed this disease or that, from high blood pressure to allergies, colitis, anxiety attacks, asthma, circulation problems and heart palpitations (our history literally becomes palpable). So many ailments that seem inexplicable—depression and phobias, ulcers and migraines—may all stem from the same source. So might many of our personality quirks, our habits and behavior patterns, our drives and obsessions. One powerful piece of evidence for the fact of the same kinds of Pains being behind so many different afflictions and behavioral problems is that the same kinds of tranquilizers or pain killers are used to treat all of them. 

Treatment Program

Girl Statue Portrait

Primal Therapy is available at The Primal Center. Primal therapy is performed by our highly-trained staff, who have undergone a minimum of five years of intensive training at Dr. Janov’s Primal Center. Most individual sessions are videotaped, and therapy is monitored by Ken Seman.

New patients who apply and are accepted at the Ken Seman’s Primal Center typically begin treatment with three weeks of intensive individual therapy.

After the three-week intensive, there is recommended follow-up therapy, which may consist of ongoing individual sessions, group therapy, buddying, telephone and/or video therapy and occasional mini-retreats.

Initial Three Weeks of Individual Therapy

The therapy starts with three weeks of individual therapy. It is the first and most important step toward learning about your Pain and learning to feel it. To that end, we usually require new patients to spend the three weeks of individual therapy in isolation, preferably in a motel or a place where he/she can be alone.

Upon starting therapy, new patients will receive detailed instructions regarding the three weeks. It is recommended that patients do not work, make phone calls, snack, smoke, take drugs (unless prescribed), etc., during the three weeks. The patient is encouraged to write and keep a journal of his or her experiences. Sessions during the initial threeweek period are open-ended but average about two hours in length.

It is also recommended that you bring your childhood pictures or anything else that brings up memories that have a special significance for you.

Follow-Up Therapy

Although the length of the therapy varies widely, our recommendation is that all applicants should be prepared to stay an average of one year at The Primal Center. For those of you who have had previous Primal Therapy and wish to enter Ken Seman’s Primal Center, please contact the office for special instructions.

I dont have to live my life in agony anymore. I can finally be myself – the real me – the one I should have been all along – and be happy with who I am. C.B., France

Individual Sessions

Although individual needs for therapy vary, the optimum therapy includes at least one individual session and one group session per week for the first six months. Individual sessions are open-ended. One must have the financial means that will allow for continuing therapy, particularly more individual sessions during the year. After the third week of individual therapy, the patient may return to work.

It works. It saved my life. . . . I feel so good. . . . I never knew it was possible to feel so good. Now I am going back home to live. P.F., Switzerland

Group Therapy

Unlike any other form of group therapy, Primal groups are really individual therapy performed in a group setting. Being in a group setting allows patients to express their feelings, be triggered by each other, and realize that most of us carry a burden of pain. The patients deal with their own feelings, and any interaction with others in the group or with the therapists has feelings as its aim. 
Groups are held once a week. 
Despair and hopelessness are no longer a state of being. Feeling gives meaning to my life L.B., USA

Telephone and Video Therapy

Our patients come from all over the world and cannot always stay beyond a certain time, but they can still benefit from the feeling process.

We have found over the years that Telehealth-Video Therapy works perfectly well. It is the next best thing to on-site therapy.

Once patients have access to their feelings, the therapeutic process can go on perfectly well via telehealth. It allows the patient to maintain his or her therapeutic relationship with the therapist.

What Is Skype?

Skype is a piece of software that lets you make free video calls from computer to computer, anywhere in the world. And even though the calls are free, they are of good quality.

How to Use Skype:

Skype is free to download and easy to use.

You can go directly to their website at www.skype.com, where you will find the software to download as well as directions for how to use it.

Simply find and add contacts to your contact list, where you can see if they’re online, offline, busy or away from their computer.

Skype works on most kinds of computers: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and Pocket PCs. Calls, chats and file transfers work between all kinds of computers.

EncryptionSkype automatically encrypts calls, chats and file transfers before sending them through the internet.

You can talk on Skype over the internet for free.

“I think the phone session worked well for me – I don’t think I would have cried so much in a normal session. Fear of showing my feelings I suppose. It is encouraging though to think that I can do this when I come back from LA in December. Obviously I am keen to feature in your 2003 diary.” M.N., England


We want our patients to become independent of the therapist as soon as possible. Our goal is to teach our patients how to get themselves into their feelings so that feeling becomes a natural way of life. To that end, after several months of Primal Therapy, when patients have adequate access to feelings, they can enter the buddy system where they can help each other.

The Center provides therapy rooms for that purpose, depending on availability, at no charge to the patients.


The format of the mini-retreat was created by Dr. Janov at the Paris Institute and was an immediate success. The idea is to bring together all people participating in Primal Therapycurrent and former patients and staff (including trainees, therapists and interns)for a period of communal living. 
It is an intensive weekend where participants can have their feelings (individually in sessions, buddying and in the group setting), attend a live lecture on a subject of interest to patients lives, view Primal movies and other available Primal material, play music and, generally, get to know each other. 
The mini-retreat is open to old patients as well, meaning people who have had prior Primal Therapy and who meet certain requirements before attending. Please contact the office for further information. 

Open Door Policy for Returning Patients

We are happy to welcome non-current Primal patients who wish to return to THE PRIMAL CENTER, as well as patients having had Primal Therapy outside of THE PRIMAL CENTER. Please call or e-mail THE PRIMAL CENTER to get the necessary information.