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Experiments

In collaboration with the client, Gestalt counselors and therapists design experiments that will bring about greater self-knowledge and insight. This will allow the client to complete unfinished business by bringing the situation from the past and "into the right now" whereby the client can use words, actions, or fantasy to complete the unfinished event (Melnick et al., 2005). Some of the experiments that could facilitate the goals outlined above for Maria are listed below. There are many experiments that could be used in the case of Maria, but space prohibits using more than one or two for this section. The following is an attempt to give the reader insight into how these experiments might be used and how they might enhance Maria's awareness.

Empty-Chair Technique

This technique can be used to help Maria express her feelings and understand her beliefs regarding her divorce and help her deal with the unfinished business that continues to plague her surrounding this event. The counselor or therapist will ask Maria her permission to proceed with the experiment. With her approval, the counselor or therapist will have Maria sit in one chair with another empty chair directly across from her. The counselor or therapist then has Maria speak both her part and the part of her husband. This will allow Maria the opportunity not only to express her repressed and avoided feelings but also to express what Maria imagines her husband would say to her in response. This experiment takes the emotion out of the safety of referring to it in the past and brings it into the present where it can be worked through. Through the empty chair, Maria can speak directly to her husband and tell him of her anger and sense of betrayal and abandonment. In this way, Maria can complete her unfinished business with her husband and gain valuable and gain valuable insight into herself. This same technique can be used to work through her feelings of failure and rejection regarding other family members, her children, or her employer.

Unfinished Business

This is a powerful experiment that can greatly help Maria and should prove useful in alleviating her symptoms of depression and in diminishing her bad dreams. The purpose of exploring Maria's unfinished business is to resolve the unresolved feelings that have been left over from her interpersonal relationships, most notably feelings of worry, resentment, grief, guilt, or rage. This exercise is designed to bring Maria's incomplete gestalts to closure, which will help move these issues from her foreground to her background. The counselor or therapist can help Maria recognize her stuck points and help her move past them. The emphasis should be on helping Maria recognize and accept what is rather than what could be. The focus should be on helping Maria live in the "right now" rather than staying stuck in the past. She cannot change what happened, but she can change how she responds to what happens, and she can be instrumental in creating a more positive future for herself and her children.

 
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