Case #59 - Longing for meeting

After a group process, Trevor got in touch with some deep sadness.

I had given an exercise in the group to creatively explore aggression. Participants faced each other, and pushed against each other with their hands. The instruction was to meet with equal force, which meant that the stronger person would have to modulate themselves. Trevor was the strongest in the group. In doing this with another man, he became competitive, and pushed a bit harder, sending the other man stumbling back.

After this, I pointed out to him that my invitation was to find a way to meet, rather than overwhelm.

He looked sad. I acknowledged that, due to his strength of presence, he would rarely feel met in life. This resonated with Trevor, and touched him deeply.

I asked him what he felt - anger in his arms, sadness in his heart.

So I suggested an experiment - we stood up, he pushed against me with his hands, and felt the anger in his arms. I then stopped, and invited him to feel the sadness in his heart, as I hugged him. We repeated that several times.

This allowed him to feel met in both these ways. As we did this, he called out, “papa”…clearly this was related to his relationship with his father. We however did not need to go into it at this stage, as the focus was on interpersonal meeting in the moment, and the full experience of feelings.

He said,“I have been looking for a teacher for a long time.” I suggested that, in fact, he was looking for being met. This named the dynamic in a way that he could have some input into, rather being dependent on me supplying the contact.

We hugged. He lifted me off the ground. Then I lifted him off the ground. He grabbed me and spun me around several times. I did the same to him.

He felt very satisfied - the meeting he had been longing for.

Of course, other therapists might not have been able to meet him physically in this way, but nevertheless, it’s always possible to find a way to meet - this is very much the essence of Gestalt.

Posted by Steve Vinay Gunther