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Gestalt Therapy: A Doorway to the Heart of a Boy’s Masculinity Author and Presenter: Michael.

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Presentation on theme: "Gestalt Therapy: A Doorway to the Heart of a Boy’s Masculinity Author and Presenter: Michael."— Presentation transcript:

1 Gestalt Therapy: A Doorway to the Heart of a Boy’s Masculinity Author and Presenter: Michael

2 2 The Stages of the Masculine Journey 1.Boyhood 2.Cowboy / Ranger 3.Warrior 4.Lover 5.King 6.Sage

3 3 First Two Stages of the Masculine Journey Stage One – Boyhood Personal Experiences Safe Adventurous Powerful and Dangerous Beloved Antwone Fisher (Movie) Wounded

4 4 Stage Two – Cowboy / Ranger A notable shift A time to test his strength and his limits Wants to answer the question – have I got what it takes? Answer comes through adventure and party hard work Experience Wounded and underdeveloped Sheltered from taking risks Risk is too great and is set up to fail There is no father present to interpret setbacks and offer encouragement Crucial stage of a boys life and needs all the support he can muster

5 5 Rite of Passage Consists of 3 Stages History Present time The problem in today’s society 300 (Movie)

6 6 Gestalt Applications As with the Masculine Journey, Gestalt Therapy needs to be experienced. We need to make the transition from words on a page to something that is lived, embodied and known intimately.

7 7 “I’ve always been intrigued by Gestalt stuff but never really got a handle on it. I think I probably do a lot of Gestalt – type work, but I’m never sure what that means. I remember one time I saw a book in which Perls was interviewed and the cover said something like, ‘Fritz finally reveals the secrets of what his theory is all about’, or something like that. I bought the book, I got home and dipped into it right away. The first question was, “So Fritz, tell us what your theory is all about?”. Not only did Fritz not answer the question but within minutes he had the interviewer pretending he was an Aeroplane. I love this goofy stuff even if I don’t know what it means. Maybe Perls would consider that progress because he was so anti– intellectual. Anyway, some time soon I intend to experience this theory more, since you can’t really learn it by studying it from the outside” (Kottler, 2004, p.135).

8 8 Field Sensitive Practice Field theory is elusive and slippery. It is really difficult to pin down what it means in the Physical realm. The field is everything that exists. It is dynamic and interrelated. Everything is of the field and cannot be separated from it. If the Masculine Journey is a map, the field is an atlas or a globe. As the Earth is revolving, the field is evolving and constantly changing. Small events can have broad and unexpected results. For example, a butterfly flapping it’s wings in China could have an impact on the weather at Chichago Island where the grizzlies are known to feed. A person in therapy could have a ripple affect on family, friends, community and even ecology.

9 9 Two types of focus used in practice: Larger Context Experiential Field

10 10 In terms of a Larger Context, what has been happening in the world over the past few years? 9/11 and the threat of terror Global Warming Credit crunch / Financial crisis My interpretation of what is happening in the world is FEAR.

11 11 If we were to narrow the field down to your client, ask yourself these questions: What impact do you think FEAR is having on a boys life right now? If a boy doesn’t feel safe in his fathers arms and is fearful of what is happening in the world, how is he going to feel free to be an adventurer or an explorer? When a boy is in the Cowboy Stage and mum and dad are constantly worried about what is out there, what impact do you think it would have on a boys development? When a boy comes to see you in therapy, what does he bring into the field? Does he have a dad? If he does, what is he like? Does he have any male influence in his life at all? If his dad is not around, what does he think of men in general? If he has a mother as one parent, does she give him the freedom to go out and play? Does she encourage the active intervention of older men in his life? And what message is his she giving to him about his father?

12 12 If I were to narrow the Field down to you, ask yourself this: What do you bring into the Field? If you are a man, what were your experiences as a boy? Did you feel safe in your fathers arms? Did you feel free to go out there and explore? And as you grew bigger, did you discover through experience that you have got what it takes? Was your father around to interpret your failures and setbacks in life and did he encourage you to try again? Did you go through a Rite of Passage to formally recognise you as a man? Or are you still a boy in a mans body?

13 13 Dr Arne Rubinstein from Pathways Foundations outlines the differences between boys and men. Lets have a look at what he says. Boys Psychology Seeks acknowledgments Power is for me Centre of the universe I will live forever Ruled by emotions No responsibility for actions Wants a mother The difference Between Boys and Men Rite of Passage Healthy Men's Psychology Has a mission Power is for sharing Part of the universe I am mortal Stands with emotions Full responsibilities for actions Seeks relationship with feminine

14 14 And, if you are women, have you been initiated into the world of women in a positive way? What do you bring into the Therapeutic setting? Are you still a girl in a women’s body? Let’s have a look at what he says about the differences between a girl and a women. Contemporary Girl Psychology Looks to peer group for acceptance Ruled by emotions Relies heavily on Male approval No responsibility for actions See other girls / women as competition Body image drives identity Cares only for self or only for others The difference between Girls and Women Rite of Passage Healthy Women Psychology Looks to self for acceptance Owns emotions Seeks equal respectful relationship with men Full responsibility for actions Sees other women as support Self acceptance drives identity Balances care for self and others

15 15 What is your Achilles heel? Where do you stand on this continuum?

16 16 The Dialogic Relationship To put simply, the dialogic relationship is a dialogue between two people. It is a very special type of meeting; a genuine meeting where both parties are risking themselves to be real people. It is a willingness to sit down face to face at an equal level with your client and be a full blooded human being in here–and–now contact. Three points in regards to the Dialogic Relationship.

17 17 1.Presence Presence is when you are fully present to the client and do as much as possible to be in the here and now. This requires you to let go of or bracket all of your concerns in order to be there. Presence is when you have gone through a process of initiation and are able to relax and be your authentic self. It is only then that your client will be able to do the same with you. They will also see a difference in you, hear a difference in you, smell a difference in you and taste a difference in you. Furthermore, if you are an initiated man and have been able to father your boy, then you will be able to invite him into the therapeutic setting and be present with you. If you are to be present, then this is probably the first time he has felt safe to be a boy and be in someone’s arms of care and know that everything is going to be alright. Imagine how healing that experience would be for the client. It would be awesome.

18 18 2. Confirmation Confirmation is when the therapist takes the client seriously and confirms his experience through accepting and validating. It is having a willingness to listen to your client and convey to him that he matters to you. It is also about showing him that you are not the enemy and willing to support his point of view. This is especially true, because most adolescents experience adults as critical and bossy. Being an adult who is willing to hear his story without having to impose adult values or opinions is critical before any other intervention stands a chance. Growing up is hard work and the development process can create huge amounts of stress especially when a boy is crossing the threshold into manhood. This does not mean that the therapist agree or condone everything the client says and can demand a lot from the therapist especially when you disagree with the clients values and in the grip of negative transference. It is a willingness to go out on a limb and truly involve yourself at an emotional level for the purpose of your client’s growth.

19 19 3.Willingness for Open Communication (A special message for the male therapist) It is a willingness to share with him when appropriate what it was like for you as a boy growing up, including those defining moments that have shaped you as a man. A boy needs you to be willing to open up about some of your difficulties and challenges and how you were able to pick yourself up and get back into life again. These stories are gold to a boy’s healing especially when they hear it from an older man who can help reinterpret his failures and setbacks and give him a strong message that he has got what it takes. As with the bears in Alaska, you can reveal to him your footprints and show him a way that has worked for you. Be sure to remember that a willingness for open communication does not come with a licence for impulsive behaviour. It comes with caution and being mindful of balancing your needs with that of the client.

20 20 Experimentation Experimentation is a creative adventure of self discovery where the client can experience himself differently in this world. This requires the therapist to be comfortable with “not knowing” and trusting “what is”, while acting out of his/her curiosity, interest and intuition. The role of the therapist is crucial in the development and enactment of experiments given that a good experiment emerges naturally from the dialogue that is already happening in the therapeutic relationship. Some examples of an experiment include: Sand play Clay work Art projects Empty chair Role plays Emotional release processes Journal writing

21 21 Some Considerations (Specifically related to Boyhood and the Cowboy stage) Grading Finding the balance between support and risk. A boy needs to feel safe to be adventurous, valued and prized. A young man needs to feel safe to engage in confidence building experiences and challenged enough to send him a strong message that he has got what it takes.

22 22 Testosterone Some facts – On average, the level of testosterone in a boy is nine times higher than that of a girl. Between the age of eleven and fourteen, the level of testosterone is 800% more than in infancy (Ykema, 2002,p.23). When the level of testosterone increases, so does the urge to move. Freerk Ykema (the founder of Rock and Water) believes that the most effective way to reach a boy is through physical communication. Physical communication is when you invite the boy to do something physical and subsequently ask him to sit down and talk about what he just experienced. Emotional release processing such as bioenergetics is an example of physical communication. It requires the Client to release excessive energy, activates the imagination and enhances self expression.

23 23 Testosterone cont… Some Gestalt Therapists believe that there is case for Impressive Therapeutic interventions to help the Client restrain his spontaneity when he experiences an overabundance of sensation or energy. I am not sure about this. With high levels of testosterone and a urge to more boys are already told enough to sit down and be quiet. As Steve Biddulp says in his book ‘Manhood’ “by the time a boy becomes a man, he is like a tiger with huge energies untapped”. He also says in his other book ‘Raising Boys’ that one of the main reasons boys suffer from ADD is because they need their dad’s attention. I agree. When I draw from my experiences at KHL and Parentline, I believe that if we try to restrain a boy’s spontaneity in therapy, then we risk emasculating the boy even further. Emotional release processing is a doorway to invite the boy to let go, follow his impulses and be in touch with his wild spirit in a safe manner.

24 24 Intentionality and Ritual (And a special message for fathers and father figures). As a therapist, invite the father or father figure and a company of men into the field by designing a year of real life adventures where the boy can experiment with confidence building experience as he crosses the threshold into manhood. This could include giving him books to read about other young men who showed great courage and vision. Gifting him with a leather journal which includes a message in the opening pages that explains to him on a personal note the purpose of a rite of passage. Taking him camping, fishing, hunting, rock climbing, or sleeping under the stars and inviting him to experience his wild spirit in nature. Welcoming him into the fellowship of men by celebrating his birthday in their company. To begin the evening by telling the other men an experience you had with your son where he came through and succeeded. Inviting him on an adventure with purpose. To show him what you do behind the scenes that makes a contribution to society.

25 25 Intentionality and Ritual cont… Inviting him to experience hard work especially where he is offered the chance to prove himself in front of older men. Spiritual lessons : This can include watching movies with him that stirs his heart into a larger story that demonstrates courage and integrity. Solitude: Take him to an isolated spot in nature where he can experiment what it is like to be in his own company. The Passage Ceremony Could Include 3 Parts: 1.Giving an account of his life through stories, photos or videos. 2.Inviting the boy to tell his father and other older men his learnings and insights for the year. 3.Giving him gifts which symbolise masculine strength and a message that he is part of the world of men.

26 26 Experiment with all of these activities. Be open to the emerging figure. See it as an adventure of self discovery and allow your son to experience himself differently in this world. As a therapist, invite the father to come back to therapy along the way so he can talk about those experience in front of his son in the here and now.

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