Why is talking therapeutic?
Most of us talk to our friends,family and coworkers about our lives and that is an essential part of participating in meaningful relationships. However, that is quite different than “talk therapy “. First , there is the environment of talk therapy. It is a quiet space with you and your therapist. There are no other distractions or interruptions during your session time. In Gestalt therapy we refer to this as “the field”. The field is a person in his or her life space at any given moment. In the field of the therapy office, The emphasis is on observing, describing, and explicating. In Gestalt therapy, we study by phenomenological focusing, experimenting, self report, and dialogue (Yontef, 1982, 1983). You may consider this environment a laboratory of sorts. Talking then , in this particular environment or field, stands apart from the talking you may do anywhere and with anyone else.
“Hearing yourself speak”.
I cannot tell you how many times a client says ” I really never thought of it that way until I just heard myself say it here ” or ” I am just putting this together now as I am hearing myself talk about it. ” Gestalt therapy teaches the client the phenomenological method of awareness which focuses more on what is happening than what is discussed. This means process rather than content, although both are important. As this awareness develops you will hear yourself differently than ever before and be able to use what you hear for further experimentation, exploration and understanding of yourself and your needs. Hearing oneself with this kind of intention , curiosity and openness is in an of itself a profound therapeutic intervention.
This seems to be the social problem of the 21st century. ” I want to talk to a live person!” What is it about a live person that we all crave. Being listened to intently gives your words a landing point which then reverberates back to you indicating that you were heard. It is essentially validation of your existence on the planet,and pointedly, your current existential dilemma. Talk therapy is therapeutic because being heard and acknowledged is a basic human need. Imagine a baby crying, what use is it if no one hears.
The relationship between the therapist and client is long known as the most important aspect of talk therapy. In gestalt therapy the dialogue IS the most essential method used. There is “you” and the “not you” in a dialogue. Talk therapy helps the client become aware of that boundary between you and the other (the therapist). Even though you have plenty of dialogue all day long, this is a special study of the “how” and “what” of the dialogue with your therapist. Again awareness is key in honing in on what you are experiencing as you engage in dialogue with your therapist. Here you begin to understand self-regulation. That is how you are managing yourself to get the kind of contact you need at the moment and also can you recognize when you have had enough contact and how to organize a withdrawal from the contact. In Gestalt therapy, contact is the experience of the boundary between the “me” and the “not me”. How you manage yourself at this boundary is important for optimal mental health and life force energy. There is a whole lot going on in the dialogue between you and your therapist than it appears and this will be become part of your therapy process.
“The immediate experience”
In Gestalt therapy , Your immediate experience is whats most useful and actively used. It is a process of discovering and clarifying how you experience yourself, the other, the field, and the world according to you. Talk therapy will help you deconstruct what you are experiencing in the immediate moment and then draw connections of that experience to your life outside of the therapy session. Gestalt therapy emphasizes that whatever exists is here and now and that experience is more reliable than interpretation. You will learn how to tell the difference between talking about what occurred five minutes ago (or last night or 20 years ago) and experiencing what is now.
“The existential view holds that people are endlessly remaking or discovering themselves. There is no essence of human nature to be discovered “once and for all.” There are always new horizons, new problems and new opportunities”. (Gary Yontef).