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Unread October 7th, 2004, 10:38 PM
Brian O'Neill Brian O'Neill is offline
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 45
Default Re: Questions and Answers on Gestalt Therapy

Hi Freyja

In response to your posts I feel there are two questions I could respond to.

First re your experience in training.

I believe the best answer I can give to this is to encourage you to talk further with your trainer or trainers and if you feel you need support for that ask to have someone else come along with you for support. I believe if I responded further I would be talking about a situation where there are potentially other perspectives (ie the trainers) that also need to be heard in order to give a fuller picture.

The second question about Can We Do Wrong as therapists is very interesting.

I think of this is as levels.

Level One. (lets call this black and white)

If I think of dramatic things, such as killing the client or throwing a glass of water over them for example, then this clearly indicates we have a balck and white, clear cut sense of that there are things we can do wrong and the criteria lies in the outcome for the client... ie a negative outcome. And at this level we can set standards of ethics which proscribe how to be.

Level Two (lets call this the continuum level)

At this level I would say that this is more a contiuum of negative and positve effects to our interventions and that we need to be aware of these and what conditions promote positve outcomes for the client and what promotes negative outcomes. I would also call this area that of ethics and values.

People such as Joe Melnick. who is the Editor of the Gestalt Review, and Robert Lee who recently edited a Gestalt therapy text entitled "The Vaules of Relationship", have written extensively about ethics and Gestalt therapy and the importance of the relationship in this endeavour.

Also at this level we can also consider the context, and while it is hard to consider a context wherein killing a client will be positive, it is clear that there can be a context where pouring a glass of water on them is positive... like if they are on fire from smoking.

As the client and therapist here develop a relationship and the values that this ensues, the relationship by and of itself in a relational field can set the standard as we become connected to those we are in relationship with, in a dialogical sense.

In simple terms this is like what happens when we are about to squash an ant... if we think of it as an "it" we squash it which is a very negative outcome for the ant, I would suggest. However we probably all have experienced that moment where we realise the ant is a living being just like us... and we find it very difficult if not impossible to kill the ant.... we have entered what the mystic Martin Buber called an experience of I-Thou

Level Three (I would call this level Every Hair on Your Head is Numbered)

At this level we start to be aware, almost in a mystical sense, that nothing unconnected ever happens and what can seem like a bad thing originally may just be part of a wider process that produces a positive outcome. Yet it is easy and sometimes unfortunate to see this as meaning we can do what we want because it will all work out in the end.

The accomplished therapist at this level knows that their intention and skill are also an important part of the mix, so that at this level the paradox is that the good outcome in therapy doesn't happen through me as a therapist but it won't happen without me.

This level of existence, which can be termed Middle Mode in the Perls, Hefferleine and Goodman text, is a level often experienced by children and artists and has been reduced a little in modern times to be called Right Brain Thinking.

At this level the artist and child is not "trying" to be anything and is totally absorbed in the creative process and experiences a sense of self, so that there is reduced ego consciousness yet a highly aware sense of self at the same time. People such as Mozart have written about this where they sense they are part of something bigger and yet also themselves at the same time.

At this level we are not really oriented to things being judged as right or wrong and more oriented to being in the moment and responsive to the field we are in.

This can easily be mistaken for JUST being spontaneous alone, and this is not what I am talking about, because at this level of experience and existence we are also HIGHLY responsive to and connected to the field, as described in level two. So to exist from this state of being sounds similar to what your trainers are describing and I think this requires expanding ourselves beyond levels one and two and in fact including them as we move beyond them.

I know this is rather a long answer and I hope it is of use.

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