Monday, May 26, 2014

Case #83 - You have a hard life. Now connect with me.

Adelle had worked in a government employ, customer service position for 20 years. She spoke of how well she peformed her role (she was popular with customers), but she was fairly antisocial in other ways. Her workmakes complained about her, and she didnt make friends there. She wanted connection with people, yet was lonely, had few friends, but couldnt seem to get anywhere.
She told story after story about how people didnt appreciate her, how they were rejecting of her, and how painful her existence was.
I found myself feeling more and more irritated as I listtened to her. Instead of feeling kind or caring, I just wanted to get away from her - to reject her. I felt uncomfortable and restlesss.
I said, 'Adelle, right now this is not working. Your stories are driving me away from you rather than drawing me closer. I find myself frustrated and not wanting to listen. I need you to stop 'talking about', and instead just be present for a moment with me'.
She stopped, but was very nervous, was not looking at me (she had been looking around all the time she was talking as well), and was clearly distressed. However, it was not a distress I felt I could connect with.
So I stepped into an authoriative voice. I said, 'Adelle, you have a hard life. You are not connected to people. You are even losing me right now. Please, come into the present, look at me, and lets connect now. I am willing, but I need you to also be willing'.
She started to protest, but I asked her to stop talking. I had to really grab her attention. She was so wrapped up in her story of despair.
She stopped, and looked at me very nervously. I spoke softly to her, acknowledging how I was starting to be able to connect with her, and invited her to do so with me. She struggled, but was able to do so to some degree. As I felt her coming into the present, I was able to be softer, and told her so. I pointed out that whatever else was happening in her life, in this moment we were connected, and I was available to her. She slowly took this in, though oddly, almost reluctantly. Sometimes people are very caught in their stories and are reticent to experience something different, even though they long for that.
Sometimes it takes sufficient energy, along with a very direct intervention, to find a way through 'the fog' of their self-story.

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)