Special Focus on Embodying
JAMES KEPNER: The Embodied Field Editor’s Note
MICHAEL CRAIG CLEMMENS and ARIE BURSZTYN: Culture and Body – A Phenomenological and Dialogic Inquiry
RUELLA FRANK: Embodying Creativity: The Therapy Process and its Developmental Foundation Editor’s Note
BILL PALMER: Developmental Processes in Clients with Chronic Health Conditions Editor’s Note
JOSEPH MELNICK: Countertransference and the Gestalt Approach
JEAN-MARIE ROBINE interviewed by RICHARD WALLSTEIN – I am Me and my Circumstance Editor’s Note
JULIA CARTER: Non-Academic Research – ‘Human Data on a Journey of Discovery’: A Response to Paul Barber
SHIRLEY SUMMERS: Body of Awareness: A Somatic and Developmental Approach to Psychotherapy by Ruella Frank
PETER SCHULTHESS: Gestalt Therapy and Politics
Editors Note: We are very pleased to be able to publish the adapted text of a keynote presentation given by James Kepner at a recent conference. In this ground-breaking article he elucidates what being embodied entails, and suggests the need for therapists to be more embodied themselves. He makes an important contribution to the development of field theory and its application by describing how Gestalt practitioners need to create an experiential field that supports the particular work they are doing. He describes the ways in which practitioners and clients can create an embodied field. He concludes with a passionate plea for therapists to attend to their clients embodied soul and their ensouled body. This article is adapted from a keynote presentation to Deutsche Vereinigung Fur Gestalttherapie Conference. Bad Kissingen, Germany. May 2002. As part of his presentation he invited the audience to undertake exercises in awareness, which we print here as they would have been addressed to the conference audience.
Key words: embodiment, body-oriented psychotherapy, embodied field.
Major components of the complex field in which we live are our embodied selves, and the cultures in which we live. As Gestalt therapists, we need to understand and appraise the ways in which culture finds its expression and life through our bodies, and to understand the different themes and modes of the embodied existence of our clients. In this illuminating article, two therapists, with their roots in different cultures, collaborate in demonstrating their appreciation of these basic field conditions and the way that they shape our work as therapists. This article is based on a chapter to be included in Making a Difference,edited by Talia Levine Bar-Yoseph, a forthcoming publication. The editor of the British Gestalt Journal thanks the author and editor for permission to publish this material.
Key words: culture, body, embodiment, field, Gestalt therapy, phenomenology.
Editors Note: In this article, Ruella Frank drawing from observations of infant behaviour illuminates a parallel process between the developing infants creative adjustment to their environment, and the boundary management of adults. Indeed, she argues that an understanding of the formation of infant contact mechanisms is necessary if we are to appreciate and successfully shape the boundary functions of adults. With reference to the field conditions that best support and lead to healthy contact with infants, she cites: 1) the attendance of a care-giving presence; 2) a supportive environmental surface; 3) involvement in experiential co-created tasks; 4) an optimum level of arousal; and 5) the development of the capacity to meet flexibly with an ever- changing environment. These qualities are also suggested to be worthy field conditions for therapy. A case study is provided to exemplify how we might cultivate the same to heal contact boundary disturbances in an adult client. In this way, components of our earliest formation of self, and embryonic contact with others, are seen via therapeutic experimentation, to provide tools with which to heal contact boundary disturbances in adults.
Key words: infant development, gestalt therapy, movement patterns, experiment, proprioception
Editors Note: In this invited paper, we are very pleased to publish some extracts from the manuscript of a forthcoming book, entitled The Tiger in the Grove: Developmental Process Therapy, by Bill Palmer. A teacher of Gestalt therapists and a body worker, Bill is also trained in Chinese medicine and developmental movement therapy. Here he describes some of the principles behind his work with patients suffering from chronic physical health problems. In this article, drawing on case examples, he describes the three phases of his Gestalt-informed developmental process therapy. These are (1) to explore the processes of development his clients are struggling with; (2) to help his clients become aware of how they are supported or hindered by the way they inhabit their bodies; (3) to suggest experiments clients can use to loosen up habitual ways they use their bodies. This elaboration of the paradoxical theory of change, applied to this specialised field, has relevance for all therapists, not just those who focus on physical process work.
Key words: bodywork, chronic illness, change, medical story, imbalance, development, experiment.
The term countertransference is an important theoretical concept with useful practical value to the Gestalt approach. Although commonly accepted by most therapeutic theories, it has multiple meanings that have shifted over the years. In this article, this concept is first looked at from a historical perspective, as it developed from psychoanalytic theory. This phenomenon is then discussed from a Gestalt framework. Common forms of countertransferential patterns that emerge in working with individuals, couples, families, and organisations are then articulated. Finally, suggestions for noticing common indications of countertransferential experiences are described.
Key words: Gestalt, countertransference, transference, projection.
Editors Note: We are pleased to be publishing this very informative interview with Jean-Marie Robine, a distinguished Gestalt thinker, writer, and practitioner in France. He created Institut Francais de Gestalt-therapie in 1980. His current practice is in Bordeaux and he teaches Gestalt therapy in Europe and all over the world, from Moscow to Mexico and the Indian Ocean. He founded the two French Gestalt journals and is on the editorial board of Cahiers de Gestalt-therapie, Gestalt Review, and the new International Gestalt Journal. He has written many articles, a number of which have been translated in other languages. His latest book, The Unfolding Self, will appear very soon in English (translated by Gordon Wheeler for Gestalt Press/Analytic Press). In this interview, he reflects on the beginnings of his Gestalt career, and the various influences on him especially that of Isadore From. He reflects on some central Gestalt concepts, notably self and field; on Gestalt therapy and its development in France; and how his practice has evolved over time. The interview culminates with a fascinating discourse about differentiation of the field, with Jean-Marie remarking that what he would like to do, as frequently as he could, would be to short-circuit the premature intervention of personality-function and to create confusion, undifferentiation or pre-differentiation. Jean-Marie Robine can be contacted at Institut Francais de Gestalt-therapie, 87 cours dAlbret, 33000 Bordeaux, France. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (IFGT : www.gestalt-ifgt.com).