Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Case #60 - Hating and loving

Jeremy and Miranda - a married couple - did an exercise which involved pushing hands against each other, to get in touch with their aggression.

Miranda became very upset after the exercise. She spoke about feeling very angry in relationship, and stuck in a pattern with Jeremy. When something was important to her, he would joke and laugh. She found this infuriating, and didn't feel met at all.

So I faced them towards each other, and invited her to tell him ‘I hate you right now’. 

This is actually a very personal and contactful statement, from a Gestalt point of view. It does not blame the other, speaks of self, and is clear and clean.

She did so, and he burst into laughter. 

Whilst at other times, this could be invitation to some mutual fun, in the context of a direct and important expression of feeling, it can be experienced as discounting, or what we term in Gestalt as a ‘deflection’.

His humour masked his underlying discomfort with her anger, and this overwhelm in being able to be with her in that place.

So I supported him by helping him breathe into his belly, relax his jaw, and encouraged him by offering understanding of how difficult it was for him to be with her in this place, his overwhelm etc.

He found it very hard to stay present, and every time he laughed, Miranda became more furious, pointing out this was exactly what happened in their relationship. 

With a lot of support and encouragement from me, he was able to stay serious; I then encouraged her to tell him very directly, repeatedly, the ‘I hate you right now statement’. She did this with intensity, for several minutes. When she felt that she had been sufficiently met in this place, and expressed herself fully, she softened, and told him she was afraid if she showed him how angry she was, he would leave her.

I invited him to reassure her that this wasn't the case. He started to tell her he also felt insecure about her leaving him, but I stopped him - she hadn't really finished yet, and didn't have the space to hear him until she did.

She started settling, and then began telling him how much she loved him.

He was then able to talk to her about his feelings. The connection between them was strong, deep, and palpable.

In Gestalt we are interested in supporting authentic and clear contact. When this is achieved, everything else flows from that. In order to do so, people need both emotional support, skill instruction, and containment.

No comments:

Post a Comment

© 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)