Case #135 - Up on a pedestal

Lynne came up to work, but seemed unclear as to just what she wanted to work on. She appeared very disembodied to me. Her conversation would constantly go to abstract issues, questions, things where were engaging intellectually, but seemed far removed from who she was as an emotional being. I noticed her shirt - it had sparkly crystals on it. I made several observations about it, as well as trying to bring her into the present in the conversation. She would pull away from the present, and did not respond at all to my curiosity about her own ‘sparkliness’. Okay, none of this was engaging her, or enhancing contact.

She did however report that her legs feeling cold - no surprise, as she was hardly in her body. She did feel some warmth in her heart, at our contact. She spoke several times of working with me, the ‘maestro’. These references were clearly putting me on a pedestal. So I grabbed this as a point of contact. I sat up on the edge of my chair, physically above her, and spoke of my experience of being ‘above it all’. I then invited her to do the same, and we both sat there, perched up on our chairs, sharing that experience. We were on the level, but everyone else was beneath us. This gave her the experience of being able to be with me, in some more horizontal way.

I then sat down, and asked her to stay up there on the chair, and enquired about her experience. This gave us a chance to explore the other polarity - the way she sees herself above others. She actually felt quite comfortable up there. When she came back down, she reported feeling a lot more warmth in her legs and body.

Talking has significant limits in therapy. Especially when talking does not really facilitate contact, it’s important to do something different. The Gestalt experiment allows a chance to bring creativity, variety, and presence into the therapeutic contact. It involves taking elements of what actual IS, and bringing them to life, in order to facilitate further awareness and contact.

Posted by Steve Vinay Gunther