Both the online Certificate in Counselling, and Certificate in Humanistic Counselling include exercises working with Gestalt techniques. Some of the more familiar of those techniques are the “no send” letter and the “empty chair”.
Gestalt itself focuses a lot on completing unfinished business – those experiences in the past that we haven’t resolved in some way for ourselves. The letter and the chair dialogue facilitate these processes very powerfully.
They are creative techniques, and some find that difficult, but they are techniques which support personal development as well, as much as techniques for the therapy room.
Recently, I was reading online about three young woman who had produced vlogs entitled “A message to my mental illness”. I guess it’s an updated version of writing a letter or dialoguing with someone or an aspect of yourself in the other chair.
The vlogs are very powerful messages, and just as in the gestalt techniques, enable expression of emotions, feelings, thoughts and words that might otherwise stay inside festering and crippling on an emotional, mental and physical level.
It’s an interesting feature of training that we learn techniques for working with clients in therapy and yet don’t consider using those same techniques for ourselves on a personal development level.
Part of the process of therapeutic training is developing that element of the internal supervisor by reflecting in notes and in supervision on clinical work. But part of the process must surely also be about managing our own personal development – working through personal issues, unfinished business, the touch points of our lives – engaging in self-therapy to ensure we are “fit for purpose”.
The online Advanced Certificate in Life Coaching also connects with this theme and includes an exercise which asks what personal issues might impact on your clinical work.
The challenge is to reflect on that, and engage with work to address your own unfinished business.
I have sat with many clients as they read out their “no send” letters to a deceased family member or friend, or as they have dialogued with someone significant in their own life or even an aspect of their personality that they struggle with. They have been powerful moments.
I’ve also written a letter to my late father in my grieving process, and argued the toss with a part of my personality that has a tendency to sabotage aspects of my life. They too have been powerful moments.
What’s your unfinished business today?