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From Being Stuck to Creative Change


  1. Does life feel like a treadmill where no matter how long you walk and how hard you try you don’t feel like you are getting anywhere?

  1. Do you feel stuck in a reoccurring and frustrating patterns in your relationships?

  1. Do you find that even though you have good intentions it is very difficult to motivate yourself to action?

  1. Do you feel trapped in an endless cycle of experience where a sense of completion and satisfaction is absent?

  1. Do things have to be perfect before you allow them to be seen?

  1. Do you feel unhappy, unfulfilled, board or lonely but are unsure why

  1. Do you often feel a sense of anger, frustration or fear but unsure why?

  1. Do you frequently feel unworthy, insecure or misunderstood?


When we were very little each of us learned to adjust to our situations instinctively in ways that best supported us toward the greatest possible sense of health, safety and wellbeing. Gestalt therapy understands this process as a person’s need to creatively adjust to their environments and Gestalt theory uses the term Creative Adjustment[1] to describe it.

Creative adjustments are an indicator of our vulnerability, we use them to protect ourselves from painful experiences. Usually we have so thoroughly integrated our creative adjustments that they become automatic strategies that we use in the present moment without being aware we are using them.

Creative adjustments are neither good nor bad, they can be our strength when we are aware they are happening, however they become problematic when they happen out of our awareness, when they are no longer relevant to our present situation and when they prevent us from achieving the satisfaction we long for in our encounters with others. Creative Adjustments organise us in how we make contact with others and our world and they become our contact styles.


Some of us will tend toward;

  1. Desentisation, where we  “anaesthetise the sensing self,” (Mann 2010). We learn to ‘suck it up’  and minimise our needs and feelings we are frequently self-sufficient or independent which is great unless it negates or diminishes our ability to make contact with others.

  1. Deflection, where we “avoid direct contact” (Mann 2010), we might change the subject or shrug off difficult  situations without resolving with them or we might minimise the imapact that a situation has on us.

  1. Confluence, where we lose our sense of self and tend to get lost in the other person. We might be unobtrusive, compliant and amenable in order to avoid confrontation or to avoid a sense of being unacceptable.

  1. Introjection, where we tend to take the opinions of others without thinking them through believing their perspective is more meaningful or creditable than our own. We might have been the good, perfect child who was to insecure or unsafe to risk being seen as wrong.

  1. Retroflection, (two types);

  2. where we look after others with the hope others will look after us, or

  3. where we beat ourselves up thereby avoiding the pain that others might inflict because we have already done it to ourselves probably with more rigour than any body else would.

  1. Projection, where we tend to separate ourselves from others. To achieve this we “don’t see things as they are we see things as we are” (Mann 2010), we attribute our what we find unacceptable about ourselves onto the other person. There is often the sense that here is something undesirable about the other person or about their actions and blame may also be evident.

  1. Egoism, where we tend toward being self-conscious, self-critical and hypervigilant unable to relax in relationships with others thus blocking spontaneity and warm acceptance and connection. There may be a sense of attending an event, watching ourselves from outside ourselves, rather than being immersed in the event.

Ok – SO HOW DO I move from being stuck to CREATIVE FREEDOM?

As a psychotherapist and counsellor I can help you find you move from being stuck and support you toward rediscovering happiness and fulfillment. In my presentation at 7.30pm on the 3rd June at the Lotus Centre I will discus the key to change, along with how to identify your contact style, how your contact style helps you and how it hinders you from reaching vitality, fulfillment and creative freedom in your interactions within your world.

If you would like to know more about how to move toward creative freedom please contact Gay Bucknall at email; or phone 0419 014 642

Works Cited

Erskine, R. G., Moursund, J. P., & Trautmann, R. L. (1999). Beyond empathy; A therapy of contact in relationship. New York: Routledge Taylor and Francis Group.

Kim, J. D. (2008). Experimental freedom. In P. Brownell (Ed.), Handbook for theory, research, and practice in Gestalt therapy (pp. 198-227). Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Mann, D. (2010). Gestalt therapy 100 key points and techniques. London: Routledge.

Philippson, P. (2012). Gestalt therapy roots and branches: Collected papers. London: Karnac Books Ltd.

Swansen, J. L. (1982). The paradox of the safe emergency. The Gestalt Journal , 5 (2), 57-64.

Wheeler, G. (2000). Beyond individualism. London, MA: Routledge.

Yontef, G. M. (1993). Awareness dialogue & process Essays on Gestalt therapy. Gouldsboro: The Gestalt Journal Press.

Yontef, G. M. (2005). Gestalt therapt history, Theory and practice. (A. L. Woldt, & S. M. Toman, Eds.) Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

[1] Creative Adjustments originated as an instinctive drive toward health by the person at a previous time (Mann, 2010; Yontef, 1993). Gestalt therapy terms this manifestation creative adjustment, or fixed gestalten (Mackewn, 1997; Yontef, 2005) and it is also considered to be a contact interruption or boundary disturbance  (Levin & Levine, 2012; Yontef, 1993).

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