It is well known that the Psychology of Ageing is a pretty young discipline and it is even more so in the psychotherapy field. There are some books and publications about ageing and psychodynamic therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, person centered therapy, but almost nothing on gestalt therapy. As I am a Gestalt Psychotherapist and I have always loved to work with older adults, it is time I start making a connection and explore it.
For this reason, I have planned three Community Workshops in which I will explore central aspects of the process of ageing: Self, change/losses/gains and identity. I would like to give you a taste of the theoretical ideas I will base these workshops on.
- In Gestalt Therapy terms, Self is not a fixed aspect of our identity, it is instead an intersubjective instance, a co-creation that is part of the ongoing interaction between ourselves and the Other/environment. Our values and our cultural and personal constructs play an important role in the co-creation of Self and this may become particularly relevant in the process of ageing.
- Every phase in life is distinguished by changes that involve both loss and gain, and we might go through crises in order to creatively adjust to the changes we face. Loss seems to be emphasised in the ageing process, although this emphasis depends on ours and others’ expectations, values and needs. The way we perceive and experience these changes influences the way we relate to ourselves (and to others) in getting old.
- In Gestalt Therapy, as Peter Philippson (2009) asserts, identity is the result of the third interactive boundary of self emergence: personality, me/not me. Its primary function is to give a sense of self-continuity and it allows us to verbalise our story, our autobiography (Philippson, 2009). Identity is one of the central aspects of getting old. Eric Erickson (1950) was one of the first authors to identify the centrality of psychosocial crises in older age that affect the person’s identity.
To get more information about my Community Workshops, please visit http://www.mgc.org.uk/