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In the last section, we discussed four methods of implementing Identification and Projection in Gestalt therapy. These four methods were: identifying with an object, identifying with a person, identifying with a part of the self, and identifying with a nonverbal behavior.
In this section, we will discuss three Gestalt techniques for implementing fantasy situations to increase a client's awareness. The three techniques are, the introductory scene, the Stump-Cabin-Stream technique, and the positive withdrawal.
Three Techniques for Implementing Fantasy Situations
♦ Technique #1 - Introductory Scenes
Daniel asked, "why do that instead of just talking about what I've done?" I replied, "One of the advantages to doing it this way is that you might forget about the usually way in which you think about what you do. You might find yourself saying or feeling things that seem strange to you. Often, these things that come out spontaneously can lead to learning something new about yourself."
Once Daniel felt he understood the method, I asked him to imagine himself doing an activity he really enjoyed. Daniel decided to imagine himself at a basketball game with his best friend. To give Daniel an example of how to begin, I modeled the start of a scene for him. I stated, "One of my favorite things to do is go hiking in the woods. So my scene starts like, 'here I am at the start of the trail. The sun is shining, and I can feel a cool breeze on my cheek. I can smell the pine trees and hear cicadas buzzing…'"
♦ Technique #2 - Stump-Cabin-Stream
-- 1. First, imagine that you are a tree stump in the mountains… Visualize yourself and your surroundings… Take some time to describe what you look like… What is your existence like as a tree stump? What kinds of things happen to you?
Clearly, this technique can be extended by also having dialogues between the stump and the stream, or the stump and the cabin. When I implemented this technique with Daniel, he stated, "I don’t like being the stump. I’m short, and most of me has been cut off. The other trees are tall and pretty." After hearing Daniel’s description, I concluded that part of Daniel is judging himself, and comparing himself to others – the "tall and pretty trees".
By describing himself as "short" as the stump, I felt that Daniel was indicating that he felt that he came up short as compared to his peers. Would you agree? Would your Daniel benefit from trying the Stump-Cabin-Stream technique?
♦ Technique #3 - Positive Withdrawal
I replied, "It is true that avoidance and withdrawal are similar. Both avoidance and withdrawal shift awareness and contact away from what is happening at the moment. However, avoidance is getting away from, with no clear place to go. Avoidance may not result in going someplace energizing and comfortable. Positive withdrawal, on the other hand, is both getting away from and creating a place to go. Positive withdrawal also aims to return to the present uncomfortable situation and deal with it more effectively. The purpose of positive withdrawal is to make contact with feelings of security, strength, and competence, so that you feel more able to deal with the situation at hand. Where is a place that is very safe and special to you, where everything is the way you want it?"
Daniel indicated that his grandmother’s kitchen was the place he had always felt the most loved. After guiding Daniel through a brief visualization of his grandmother’s kitchen, I indicated that he might try using this technique throughout each day, as he started to feel overwhelmed by his tendency to compare himself unfavorably to others.
Think of your Daniel. Would training your Daniel in positive withdrawal help him or her cope more effectively with daily stressors?
In this section, we have discussed three techniques for implementing fantasy situations to increase a client's awareness. The three techniques are, the introductory scene, the Stump-Cabin-Stream technique, and the positive withdrawal.