Case #94 - To be known, to know oneself

Louisa had been involved in personal growth work for over 10 years. She had not done a full professional training, but she had attended a lot of workshops, done her own study, and was committed to her own growth.

She was recognised by her friends as a very strong woman.

As I came to know her, I also agreed - I could see a deep strength in her.

Of course, she knew this about herself as well, although she was also focused on what she needed to learn, her weak areas, and the places she was not as successful as she would like.

I suggested to her - why not teach others how to find the strength you have. Louisa firstly through she was not externally successful enough - she didn’t make a lot of money from what she was doing.

I pointed out that it was her inner success that mattered - no matter what happened to her, she did not allow herself to be daunted, to give up. She carried that inner strength with her, and just because she hadn’t turned it to making a lot of money, didn’t mean so much except in very superficial terms.

She then said she didn’t know how to teach others what she knew - it was just natural to her.

I then took her through an awareness process, stepping back from herself, and observing what she did in a number of circumstances to access her strength. She talked about her self talk, her attitude, and I also asked about what she did on a somatic level.

I pointed out that this kind of self reflection was the basis on then being able to teach others what she knew.

The Gestalt principles here are firstly feedback - giving the client something of my experience of them. That could be 'positive' or 'negative', but that’s somewhat irrelevant. The point is that it’s about how I experience them, and the impact that has on me.

That kind of feedback is very valuable for someone - to be really seen. It’s confirming, it’s acknowledging, and it provides some solid ground for therapeutic conversation. It also helps people identify their unique style in the world - which is really what they have to offer in relationship, and by extension, in their work.

Secondly, I helped her go through an awareness process to deconstruct her internal workings. This is very useful in many circumstances - it’s a question of 'how' we each do what we do. By opening this up, then more choice become available - in this case, to then be able to teach it.

Thirdly, as therapists, we can do our own awareness deconstruction process, allowing us to describe to clients what we know and understand. This is the necessity for our own self reflection, and getting quality feedback ourselves.

Posted by Steve Vinay Gunther