Stefan offered an informed and thought-provoking talk around this very sensitive subject, which can be difficult to meet in the counselling room, both for the client and the therapist. His use of metaphor and the doll like characters brought a welcome visual element to this work. Stefan, a Gestalt trained therapist, who willingly shares the benefits of two and four chair work, explained he focuses completely on the client and where they are at any given moment and he feels strongly that we should keep ‘ourselves’ out of the middle of the counselling space, which is to be left free for the client to enter at any point if they so wish. Calling the police etc when thought vital and necessary was known and understood but I particularly liked his suggestion to call a GP (provided client safety does not have immediacy at its core) with the client present in order that it becomes an open three way conversation if possible. By doing this, the client is offered and receives congruence and respect for their experiences, feelings and autonomy.
Stephan emphasised the need to ‘fuss’ and enquire, to be constantly curious about the client, their story and the immediacy of the ‘suicidal ideation or plans’. He stressed that we needed to deeply enquire about the client’s experience, history, thoughts and feelings – particularly those around anger (warrior), fear (magician), sadness(lover) and joy (sovereign) – the archetypal energies. Stefan said he was, and has, run workshops for men around these subjects with a good deal of success. The men who attend often say they are surprised to have found a safe space to perhaps begin to talk, probably for the first time in their lives, about feelings and experiences they have endured and buried often for years.
There was, I feel, a need for the talk’s content to possibly have more focus and structure to it especially about ‘suicide and dealing with crisis in the moment’ which ebbed and flowed, and the road markings were not always clear. The nature of this work, of course, means the wellbeing of the client is absolutely paramount, but for the work to be ‘safe’ the therapist needs to have within themselves the knowledge they can access the support of supervision, their therapists, and/or professional bodies later so that their ‘own stuff’ can be contained safely outside of the client’s space.
Thank you Stefan for this informative talk.
Moore R. & Gillette D. 1992 ‘King, Warrior, Magician, Lover. Rediscovering the Architypes of the Mature Masculine’ Harper Collins, New York.
Rosenberg M. B. 2015 3rd Edition ‘Non Violent Communication – a Language of Life’ Puddle Dancer Press, California.
Clarkson P. (updated by Cavicchia S.) 2013 ‘Gestalt Counselling in Action’ 4th Edition. Sage, London.
Stefan Charidge’s webinars: hhtps://cutt.ly/aGkcb0z