Primal Therapy

Primal therapy rejects the analysis and verbalisation found in most forms of psychotherapy. Instead, practitioners encourage screaming, crying and the beating of objects to express emotions that are thought to have been repressed since infancy. Proponents believe that the person can better identify their true feelings and needs though such an approach.


Primal therapy was developed by child psychologist Arthur Janov – his book The Primal Scream (1970) was particularly influential. Janov attracted considerable attention after it was revealed that John Lennon was a one-time patient of his. Although the methodology has since lost some of its popularity, particularly in psychotherapeutic and academic circles, it is still widely practiced.


The primal approach is intended to help individuals come to terms with their subconscious. To practitioners, the unconscious can store feelings of negativity created by past events (The Primal). In turn, present issues or events can sometimes trigger these hidden feelings (connected feeling).

The therapist encourages the client to identify these unconscious sources of tension and, by the use of cathartic techniques, rid themselves of the negativity.

How can Primal Therapy Help?

Usually taking place individually or in groups, the Primal technique is widely used to help people address past traumas by reliving them. While this may not be suitable for everyone, the approach does offer an alternative method of confronting issues that still proves popular.

Useful Primal Therapy Resources

Dr. Arthur Janov’s Primal Centre

The Primal Institute