Sunday, August 11, 2013

Case #11 Father, mother, girlfriend

John was having difficulties in feeling solidly committed to his girlfriend. He wasn’t sure about the relationship.

He had a dream. He and his girlfriend were making love. His father and mother were behind him. His father was a young man, confident, strong. 

He was uncertain, he didn't want to make her pregnant. His father came forward, and he felt relief.

You could have a field day with this if you were a Freudian, but we operate differently with Gestalt. Gestalt is about integration and ownership, so we identify as all parts of the dream. They give us access to our own polarities and selves.

So I asked him to ‘be’ each of the other parts of the dream. 

As himself, he was hesitant, holding back.

As girlfriend, he was wanting with all his heart, no weight.

As father he was open, clear, healthy

As mother he was deceptive, shadowy, not wanting to be seen, hiding self.

There was an alignment - father with girlfriend, both confident, solid, and himself with mother, both uncertain, not solid, hiding out.

This made sense, as his mother was very cold towards him as he was growing up.

So we explored this coldness, and specifically, how he himself was cold in relationship in a range of ways. We looked at how this coldness manifested in his ‘cold feet’ with his girlfriend, and his difficulty committing.

We explored the coldness, what he called ‘emotional blankness’, his unfeeling side. He connected this to his experiences of depression and especially meaninglessness. 

Stepping into awareness of his coldness was empowering, as he could see it was about something fundamental he brought into relationship. To have a different experience, he would need to find ways to ‘warm’ himself up, without needing to get that from an external source (girlfriend).

This is based on the principles of awareness, Gestalt notions of responsibility, and being with ‘what is’. His coldness is not something that is going to change - its embedded in how he brings himself to relationship. But he can increase his awareness, and choicefulness, and understand how it manifests in relationship.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Archive

© Lifeworks 2012


Who is this blog for?

These case examples are for therapists, students and those working in the helping professions. The purpose is to show how the Gestalt approach works in practice, linking theory with clinical challenges.

Because this is aimed at a professional audience, the blog is available by subscription. Please enter your email address to receive free blog updates every time a new entry is added.

Gestalt therapy sessions

For personal therapy with me:

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

© Lifeworks 2012




Informed Consent & Rates


Gestalt Therapy Defined





Book:Advice for Men about Women


• English






Greek ελληνικά

Hindi हिंदी








Russian Русский

Serbian српски

Chinese 中文

Japanese 日本語

Arabic العربية

English Bahasa České Deutsch Español Filipino Français ελληνικά हिंदी Magyar Melayu Italiano 한국의 Polski Português Română Русский српски 中文 日本語 العربية

If you are interested in following my travels/adventures in the course of my teaching work around the world, feel free to follow my Facebook Page!


This Gestalt therapy blog is translated into multiple languages. You are welcome to subscribe


Interested in Gestalt Therapy training?

Contact Us


Career Decision Coaching


and here


Gestalt training and much more

For Men

Here is a dedicated site for my book Understanding the Woman in Your Life

The Unvirtues

A site dedicated to this novel approach to the dynamics of self interest in relationship

Learn Gestalt

A site with Gestalt training professional development videos, available for CE points

We help people live more authentically

Want more? See the Archives column here

Gestalt therapy demonstration sessions

Touching pain and anger: (40m)

Permission to feel: (54m)

Marriage after 50: (1h 17m)

Serafina - Angel wings: (45m)

Barb Wire Tattoo: (37m)

A natural empath; vibrating with joy: (39m)

Dealing with a metal spider: (51m)

Interactive group: (1h 57m)