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9 Steps Towards Giving New Meaning to Life

As a practical clinician in psychology for many years, I have accompanied and supported numerous patients in their Gestalt therapy. Together we discovered that the significance they had given to occurrences in their lives kept them in many ways prisoners of judgment, guilt and shame and painful loneliness. This articles proposes to share the nine phases of a courageous journey from incomprehension and confusion, to acceptance of themselves as they are, enabling them to step out of their solitude. Initially, the patient discovers that their usual schemas do not allow them to cope with an unexpected or difficult experience or situation. They are confused, and running a loop in their mind. They reach out to find some understanding. They are not conscious of what is happening to them nor or they curious about it. They are in a place of suffering, vulnerability, loneliness, shame and guilt. They only know their desire to experience more joy and beauty. By creating space for an initial, internal movement I gently and firmly support the patient in the exploration of unresolved occurrences in their life, examining how these relate to current situations. They start to learn how to know themself and identify their core values, strengths and limitations. After this essential internal movement the next step is to restore life and movement: I create a relation based on listening, acceptance and sustenance that allows them to gain self-confidence as they examine the significance of their schemas. As they start to free themself from their feelings and choices, they can also start to take position. Next is a very lonely and difficult phase where the patient opens up to moving forward into new and unknown possibilities in life, whilst accepting that they can not undo the past. I bring special attention to understanding how they have constructed themself, how they have given meaning to their life. In this crucial stage for the patient I hold space with benevolence and respect, helping them to accept their vulnerability without judgement. They are identifying more clearly with their authentic self, able to recognise their legitimacy. Finally the patient is ready to confront reality, to test their new competencies and to integrate their new understandings. By giving new meaning to their life, they gain an astounding new sense of freedom and peace.

Gestalt, Existential, Clinical Practitioner, Philosophy, Anxiety, Limitations, Joy

Marie Noëlle Salathé-Granès. (2021). 9 Steps Towards Giving New Meaning to Life. Psychology and Behavioral Sciences, 10(4), 139-144.

Copyright © 2021 Authors retain the copyright of this article.
This article is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License ( which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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