Gestalt therapy is a form of holistic counselling that encapsulates all the dimensions of what it is to be human, physical, emotional, cognitive, social and spiritual. Gestalt therapy counselling focuses on the ‘here and now’ this present moment. Gestalt therapy strengthens the therapist’s ability to stay grounded, mindful and centred in the face of the intense experiences often associated with the experience of chronic pain, thereby continuing to support the growth and development of the client without the counsellor getting lost in the process. Gestalt therapy is about staying with human suffering supporting the inclusion of the client’s lived experience of their chronic pain. Understanding from their perspective what it is like for them and how it impacts on their life. This inclusion of the experience of the client, and not aiming to change the patient to what the counsellor considers appropriate, provides affirmation and confirmation of the patient and their experience. To truly be heard and understood is an important step in assisting the client with their chronic pain.
Recent advances in neuroscience have shown that supportive resonance of experience, i.e. the counselor experiences internally in response to the client what they are experiencing, supports and provides an opportunity for “healing through meeting.”
As a Gestalt therapist our role is to provide scaffolding (through relational support and mindfulness techniques) to support the client with chronic pain to meet the challenges and impact of chronic pain in their life. Pain by its very nature elicits an urge to escape and obtain relief. We know that this turning away gives pain its power, for the more a person makes an effort to avoid pain and distress, the more distressed they are likely to be. This in turn results in fear and depression, which taxes the resilience of all those involved, especially the one experiencing chronic pain.