This article has been published in the Gestalt Review , Vol 26, N°1, 2022, 34-49 - The Pennsylvania State Universtiy, University Park, PA
It was first published in its original french version in Les Cahiers de Gestalt-thérapie 2020/1(n°43), 82-89
Béja, V. & Belasco, F. (2020). The Secret Longing : A Relational Compass in a Field Perspective. Gestalt Review , Vol 26, N°1, 2022, 34-49 - The Pennsylvania State Universtiy, University Park, PA https://doi.org/10.5325/gestaltreview.26.1.0034
From the perspective of relational and field Gestalt therapy, the authors shed light on the phenomenology of clinical intervention by showing that the therapist’s main activity consists in adjusting his or her own resonance to the movement toward contact—to the impulse—which informs the therapeutic encounter itself. The therapist “positions” himself in order to “hear” better. And it is this change in the therapist that leads toward change in the patient. A clinical example illustrates the different moments in this process. By designating the intentionality at work in the encounter as a secret longing, the authors introduce a new concept, offering practitioners a sensitive compass that allows them to orientate themselves and persevere in their efforts to adjust to patients and maintain their aim of reaching them.
Concerned about the effectiveness of the therapies we conduct, we want to examine how our desire for change and our attitude of listening could be articulated, both theoretically and practically. This is because Gestalt psychotherapy does have a goal : to work in such a way that a patient’s view of the world is changed, so that his relationship with the environment evolves to make his experience less painful. And yet, inspired by the phenomenological attitude of observing, listening, and welcoming, the practice of Gestalt therapy does not aim for change directly. It teaches us to get through the times of meaninglessness or uncertain or uncomfortable situations. The acceptance of what is happening, the waiting patiently for a figure to emerge, the concern not to impose premature differentiation : these are the hallmarks of a posture that respects the experience of the other. But such a disposition toward listening, welcoming, and waiting can also paralyze the therapist if he becomes merged with it, and end up engaging the relational dynamics of the therapeutic dyad in an endless loop. Here, we wish to contribute toward the formulation and the exploration of this place, where change and an attitude of phenomenological listening must be combined. Can this articulation be coherent with Gestalt therapy ? We think so and put forward the concept of a secret longing as a compass to orientate us in the zones of uncertainty and wandering we inevitably have to go through in any therapy.