Monday, May 16, 2016

Case #181 - Love fixes an abnormal knee

Jane asked about working with body symptoms.
She talked about her knees - one knee felt 'normal', the other 'abnormal'. She explained this meant her right knee felt fine, the left one she felt pain in, a 'lack of power', and that she didnt 'get enough support' from it. So she walked in an unbalanced way.
I was curious about these words - support, lack of power, and normal vs abnormal. The latter words contained some explicit judgements. I kept asking about her experience of the various words, but mostly she replied more about how she thought.
The focus in Gestalt is on experience - otherwise people stay too much with their stories or interpretations about their experience.  
I asked her - 'if we were friends, and I you were to ask me for support, what would that look like?'
Her reply was it would be to help her feel more relaxed. This gave a clear relational direction for the work.
I said that I felt a kind of spontaneous desire to support her, and wondered how that was for her.  
I asked her about the association she had with 'normal' and 'abnormal'. These words contain some potency of judgement, indicating there is some significant energy with them. I often pay attention to such 'power' words a person uses, as they generally indicate important figures.
Jane said that there was such a thing as a normal family life, and there were abnormals ones. I asked about the latter. She said where parents yelled at kids, like her parents did - that was an abnormal family life. I replied that parents did, in the course of normal parenting, yell at kids, so what was different about her experience?
She then revealed that her parents had never done something with her that indicated love. I didnt question this, just took it at face value as her experience. She said she now saw them in a different light - but again, this was about her thinking, not her feeling.
I then got it - my sense of warmth towards her was cocreated - she was drawing out the nourishment with her embedded longing, and I was automatically responding, in a parental kind of way. I remarked on this - I spontaneously wanted to give something to her.
I asked how that was for her. She gave me a thinking answer, so I asked her to notice her feeling. This was hard for her - she was not used to recognising and taking in such nourishment.  
Its important to keep a person focused on their feelings, as otherwise the intensity and power of the therapeutic relationship and interventions is diluted.
I proposed an experiment - I used the word 'love' - as she had indicated this was missing from her parents. I said - 'for a few minutes, we can sit silently, and I will send some love towards you, and you just need to receive it'. I made it clear this felt natural and spontaneous to me - I was responding to something in her, so it was real in that sense.
We did that.  
I checked how that was for her. She said her eyes, which had been dry before felt better - I noticed they seemed a bit watery. She felt relaxed and calm. I asked how her knee felt - rather surprised, she noted that  her knee felt much better, more balanced, less weak.
This arose from noting my natural response - this was not an artifice of therapy. We use our own spontaneous reactions in Gestalt to guide us - positive or negative, both are valuable.  

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)