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#8 Phenomenology and the therapeutic use of awareness
an evidence based approach to subjective experience
Content of the activity and a detailed outline of the event
Before post-structuralism was post-modernism...and before that was existentialism...and before that was phenomenology. In the face of the sweeping success of the march of objective science in the 19th Century, Edmund Husserl offered a radical and alternative view.
This approach - known as the science of subjectivity - is just as relevant today, as the psychology industry takes shelter the legitimacy of objective science. Phenomenology offers not only an alternative narrative, through applications in Gestalt therapy it becomes a therapeutic methodology that is startlingly effective.
This approach is contrasted with the interpretive therapies, which offer authoritative interventions based on codified knowledge.
In essence, it involves a kind of anthropological investigation into the clients experience, with the therapist carefully constructing meaning that stays true to the client’s world.
This requires temporarily suspending our knowledge, and even experience, and being able to approach each situation, each client, from a fresh perspective.
This spirit of enquiry is a potent force, allowing us to enter right into the heart of the client’s reality, and understand it from the inside.
Clients feel known and met in this process, yet it involves a remarkably simple approach. By staying with description and observation, the client themselves volunteers their deeper experiences and motivations.
A central tool in this process is the use of awareness, especially sensory and somatic, as these are not caught up in the complex web of explanations which clients often carry, and use to rationalise their problems.
We can track the development of awareness, and note where the unfolding process gets stuck. This is described in Gestalt as the Cycle of Awareness, and it is a very useful tool, both explanatory as well as indicative for interventions.
Existentialism, drawing its roots from Phenomenology, adds certain themes that are useful to therapy. An ability to work with the ‘what is’, allows for a particular mechanism of change - one diametrically different than planned goal setting. In Gestalt this is described as the ‘paradoxical theory of change’, and it flows from the observation that the more change is pushed for, the greater the resistance.
The important endpoint is clinical application. These philosophical perspectives have immediate application to the work of therapy, and provide simple and effective tools for working with clients.
We will explore these tools, and show how easily they can be used.
Important articles by Spinelli and Yontef will be included in the resources.
We cover methods of implementation, use exercises and experiential demonstration work in the group to provide examples of application of the principles.
By the conclusion of this seminar participants will be able to:
How will participants benefit from attending this seminar?