What I do in English

Below I’ll show you an interview in which I explain what I do, how I work and some background.


In her practice “The Art of Living”, Gitta van Haagen has guided clients for many years already. They ask for help when they suffer from burn out, depression, fear, anger, lack of meaning in life, problems in relationships, etc.  She guides them to have a more realistic view on reality. “Time after time one seems to live one’s life according to a survival mechanism which is internalized since early childhood. One doesn’t suffer from the traumatic experience of those days itself, but from the way in which that is pushed away by the unconscious perception that the situation of those early years still exists.

Those survival mechanisms express themselves also strongly in relationships of whatever kind: with partners, children, friends, colleagues, bosses etc.”


For the young, vulnerable and completely dependent child any experience is quite soon traumatic. That is because the nervous system of the young child is not yet fully developed. This is also true of his or her rational brain. Such a young child is simply not able to understand what is happening. Even a simple thing such as when the mother doesn’t arrive immediately when it cries with hunger. Similarly it can happen when she provides the little one with a nipple to comfort her instead of feeding her. Gitta says: “For the young child predictability and safety (next to food and warmth of course) are most important. The first caretaker, mostly mother or father, needs to take care of that. Their immediate, loving proximity is necessary so the nervous system of the little one can relax as young children can’t yet do that by themselves. This is a necessary condition for a healthy development. When this relaxation doesn’t happen enough, which inevitably happens at some point, that creates “the human condition” and the little one develops necessary survival mechanisms. One of those survival mechanisms is for instance: crying louder and louder, doing its utter best, hoping maybe then that mummy will come. In this way such a little one takes the responsibility for what it needs on its own shoulders. An impossible task.”


According to Gitta a burn-out f.i. also occurs in this way: “That is caused by feelings of hope and fear, anger, disappointment and insecurity. The body is constantly tensed, relaxation is impossible. In the mind the conviction of ‘if I will do my very best, if I work hard, then it will be all right, then I will be able to relax, is strongly wired. There is no contact with the body. When one suffers from depression then the conviction ‘it doesn’t matter whatever I do, I will never do it right, etc. took over and lack of meaning will easily kick in.”


What Gitta does in her sessions is mainly based on Past Reality Integration® (PRI). It focusses at becoming aware of entrenched survival mechanisms and the way those survival mechanismes express themselves in physical reactions, feelings, convictions and behaviour. Next to PRI Gitta uses SE interventions (Somatic Experiencing®). They are often necessary to help the client to get out of his or her head and into the body, for it is there that the feelings are stored away. Gitta: “Otherwise one stays imprisoned in a mind where thoughts are turning around in circles. Hoping that those thoughts and behaviour belonging to those thoughts will set one free. But in fact you are free already as the life dangerous situation of the past is long over. In the present one suffers from those survival mechanisms, the need for control for instance.”

Gitta also likes to work with dreams: “Dreams often show you what’s going on in your life, where and how you keep yourself locked up. They also show you often an opening. They are often a reflection of where you stand in life.”


“Basically it’s always about the same. All humans strife to feel free, to a life in harmony with oneself and the people, the world around them. Lack of trust and the urge for control put a stop to this. Insecurity though is the essence of life. Since one doesn’t know what tomorrow will bring us.

Especially in these days of growing mistrust it is a condition to learn to live life from a confident self and trust in each other in order to build an endurable society. An open mind, curiosity instead of mistrust. That’s why I do this.”


Gitta is educated as PRI therapist and she worked as such for many years as supervisor as well. She is not educated as SE therapist. Her knowledge of and experience with SE received from the regular collaboration with her daughter Iris Maier who is a body-oriented therapist and certified SE therapist. Gitta prefers to present herself as teacher instead of therapist. And she likes to call what she offers: the methode without a particular methode. Something like ’the methodlessly methode’.

Gitta worked a lot with people from abroad: USA, Canada, UK, Danmark, Sweden, Israel, Germany and so on. Of course she does that in English. Zoom works well in those situations.