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A few thoughts about some concepts that could help clarify the vocabulary of the therapeutic “relationship.”
I don’t like using the concept of “relationship.” Too wide, too vague. Of course, I know that a relationship can be healing, and I also know that every psychopathology has be created by relationship. So, step by step, I will try to explore some components of the therapeutic “relationship,” which could narrow our focus and contribute to unfolding and understanding what happens in this specific face to face. “Intimate” is an interesting concept because it belongs both to the innermost and to a special kind of very close way of being together. Perhaps “encounter” might be considered as an extension of our paradigm of “contact,” when contact rises and grows between two people. “Love” is often referred to, in our therapeutic context. Is it an appropriate reference? What about “tenderness,” which seems to better designate a therapeutic attitude that does not exclude confrontation or distance. A few tracks that need to be pursued…
Jean-Marie Robine has been a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist since 1967 and a Gestalt therapist since 1976. After more than 15 years as a psychologist, then a director, in a public health service for children, adolescents, and their families, he created in 1980 the Institut Français de Gestalt-thérapie (IFGT), the first Gestalt institute in France. To date, it has trained hundreds or maybe thousands of Gestalt therapists not only in France but also in Europe, Eastern Europe, Africa, the USA, and Latin America.
He was a co-creator of the Societé Française de Gestalt, then of Collège Européen de Gestalt-thérapie, national societies for Gestalt therapy, and the European Association for Gestalt Therapy. He was also the president of EAGT in the early 1990s.
In addition, Jean-Marie created the two French journals for Gestalt therapy and was their editor-in-chief for several years. Then he opened a nonprofit organization for publishing a series of Gestalt therapy books, l’Exprimerie, as a division of IFGT. More than 50 Gestalt therapy books, originals and translations, have been published, mostly in French but also some in English. He has authored or edited nine Gestalt therapy books, which have been translated into several languages. He is the co-editor and publisher of the last manuscript from Fritz Perls – with wonderful comments from several famous colleagues – already available in many languages, and also the editor of Self: A Polyphony of Contemporary Gestalt Therapists, published in many languages.
Now retired from heading IFGT, he remains the organizer and coordinator of its international programs, teaching mostly abroad some supervision groups, postgraduate programs, and training for supervisors and trainers, but also enjoys his (partial) retirement in the countryside near Bordeaux to grow his vegetables and fruit trees.