Case #142 - A gather in the back of the jumper

Mary Anne came up for a session.

I noted 'the obvious', which is a starting place in Gestalt for a person's phenomenology. This requires observation without interpretation. I saw - a pink jumper, black blouse, grey socks...and a gather in the back of the jumper. I commented on the gather in the back of her jumper - it was an unusual design, and took my attention. Mentioning it is enough - without necessarily focusing on it, unless the client makes more of it.

I then asked Mary Anne what she was aware of. She reported that she had grievances about not being understood. In Gestalt we bring the general into the specific, and into the present, and into the relationship.

So I asked her how understood she felt by me. She said she felt quite held, and understood. I then asked what she was aware of in her back. This derived from my previous observation, and my interest about what that might be connected to in her experience. She reported feeling tension there, frequently. I asked her to notice that experience in the present. I asked her where specifically she felt the tension, and she showed me the place. As she stayed with the experience, she felt the tension, but nothing more. So I stayed there with her, present.

Then, I asked her if I could put my hand on her back in that place. Sometimes that helps focus awareness.

As I did so, her emotion moved. She reported that her father never supported her mother, and that as a child, she took on her mother's resentment about this. I acknowledged her own need for support - differentiating her need from her mother's need. I invited her to feel my support for her, in the present, and to breathe into the feeling of this in her back.

As she did so, she relaxed, reported the tension being released, and feeling a new strength in her back. In this way I brought the issue into the present, and into our connection. The hand on her back was part of a Gestalt experiment which then evolved - as good experiments do - into a healing moment.

Posted by Steve Vinay Gunther