Thursday, November 27, 2014

Case #122 - A complicated relationship

I told Rosemary that I wanted to get to know her. She came with a very open and positive attitude towards me.
She said she wanted to know something beautiful about me. This I found a difficult question - somehow easier to answer a question that requires me to be self critical. Nevertheless, this was her request, and so I looked into myself - and told her that I am an open person that people felt very comfortable around - which is true.
She told me that something similar was true of her. I said - 'well, then its going to be easy for us to get along'. This affirmed our similarity, and created a sense of joining.
She visibly relaxed. In fact she sort of curled into herself, as if about to lie down…she told me she felt dizzy.
Given there was clearly a connection between us, and that her movement suggested that some kind of support was missing, I invited her to lean against me, rather than simply collapse into herself. This takes a movement that is 'retroflected' -that is directed back to self rather than to the other. So in Gestalt we encourage this to be directed into relationship.
So I sat next to her, and she leaned her head against me - in the same way and with the same movement that her falling over had been.
I reported my feeling of warmth in the connection and asked hers. She was relaxing, but also afraid of rejection. So she was not fully letting the warmth in - only as far as her skin. She spoke of feeling 'chilled' inside.
This indicated that she was active in the process of rejection - something that she had put onto me as a fear. It also showed a polarity - warmth and cold.
So I invited her to talk about her own rejecting process - she said that her fear was about the future, about the loss of connection. Clearly, this was her method of not being fully present. Rather than look for the field context, I drew her into the present, and into our relationship. I asked her to become fully present, and notice where her fear was, between us. This is often the direction we take in Gestalt - into the here and now of the therapeutic relationship.
She said her feeling was 'can't fully take this in'.
I invited her to put this in a relational statement to me - 'I will only let you in so far before pushing you away'. This was the authentic statement we aim for in Gestalt - it increases the quality of contact.
I asked her to feel the combination of warmth in the contact, and her coldness inside. She talked about it as 'coming and going'.
I remarked - 'so we are going to have a complicated relationship'.
This was a way of giving a larger frame to the process - the push and pull which was clearly a part of Rosemary's way of being in relationship.
In Gestalt we are interested in being with 'what is' rather than jumping in to change it. In this case, with her internal contradictions, I indicated I was willing to be in relationship with that complexity rather than be put off by it, and reject her.

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)