Goodbyes in Therapy, Group or Individual
Unless unusually fortunate, our parents couldn’t teach these intimacy skills because their parents didn’t have the skills – they couldn’t teach what they didn’t get from their parents. Lacking experience, safety and good support, people usually avoid feeling and saying these things in everyday life because the depth of intimacy and vulnerability is so unfamiliar and scary. [See Brene Brown on Vulnerability, an essential skill for happiness.] So most people have little or no experience really feeling & saying the heartfelt things that would be said and need to be said for genuine intimacy.
It’s also true that all important goodbyes are connected through their similar feelings – love, sadness, anger and scare [in the Gestalt model: appreciations, resentments and regrets]. Past important goodbyes, both said and especially unsaid, come naturally consciously and unconsciously to awareness, further complicating and intensifying goodbyes, whether in everyday life or in therapy.
Unfortunately our culture tends to avoid deeply experiencing and talking about important feelings in relationships. Practicing actually feeling and putting these very human feelings into words greatly facilitates deeper, more satisfying and sustaining intimacy in all future relationships. Goodbyes in therapy are a kind of final therapeutic exercise, an opportunity to put into practice all the therapeutic experiences which have led to “graduating” from Group therapy.
I welcome your comments, Dr Bob
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