Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Case #185 - A heart to heart connection

Trisha's husband, Mac, was in the group. They were a couple in their late 50's. After Trisha's personal work, the group gave feedback. They were impacted by her deep but wordless feelings.
Mac however, was silent.  
I invited him to give feedback.
He said  that he was glad she was able to feel supported. But in Gestalt terms, this is not the feedback we are after. What is important is not simply appreciation, approval, or acknowledgement. The inclusion of self is essential - the impact someone's sharing has on the other person, especially on an emotional level.
Mac found it very difficult to share on this level. He seemed as wordless as Trisha when it came to feelings.
So I invited them to sit in front of each other.  
I asked them to place on hand on each other's chest, to breathe, and look in the other person's eyes.
They did so, and there was clearly much emotion going on.  
I invited them after some time to see if they could say a word or two, expressing their experience.
Trisha said 'connected'.  
Mac said 'me too'.
This was a very strong intervention, meaning, this would not have naturally occurred. Such interventions always need to be thought through very carefully, weighed up, and permission sought. They can have a radical effect on people, opening up whole new experiences, outside of their famliarity or comfort zone. But they can also be impositions, and of little use unless people are really able to integrate them.
This experiment provided the scaffolding for a level of intimacy in this couple. The question is whether such an experience opens up possibilities for them, or is a little frightening, and they simply go back to safer and more familiar ways.
This is the reason that ongoing therapy work is so important. Single interventions, no matter how powerful, need to be embedded over time. We need to check back as to the impact, how much the person was able to absorb, and whether they may need the therapy process to proceed much slower. There is no point going at the therapists's pace - it is the client's pace that is important. When we do experiments, we try to find the right balance between challenge and support. 'Right' meaning what is right for the client - our brilliant ideas are of little use if they are too far/too fast.

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)