Two views of healing: Len Schneider & Gene Gendlin

The following is a point of view written by Bruce Gibbs as a guest writer for this blog (see bio at bottom of page).

I had two major teachers in my earlier life. Len Schneider and Gene Gendlin. My work with them led me to feeling conflicted about my role as healer.

Len had an abiding belief in an Existential view of healing. Healing, from his point of view, was about authentic encountering. Healing took place in the between, where souls meet.

Gene was a dyed-in-the-wool person-centered healer. In his, and Carl Rogers’ view, we provide an open and accepting space within which a person might find their own path to healing.

It took me some years to see the obvious. Both positions are right, sometimes. When someone comes to see me, their needs vary. And then there is the mix of how our souls meet.

It seems to me that what is required, as healer, is a capacity to see and support our clients in their efforts to find an open place in themselves to face whatever is inhibiting their “life-forward” movement. What both positions share is a sense of “relatedness.” This relatedness shows itself differently in each approach. Sometimes this comes as an encounter and sometimes it is way inside and the person just needs a trustworthy container. Thomas Mann in a short story said something like, we all have to find a place to take a stand. Some of us do it on a battlefield, some alone in a cabin in the woods.

In my view, finding that “open place” where healing can happen is, at best, difficult because such an opening is obscured by pain and/or contractions. As I see it, we are all responsible to find that opening in ourselves. Yes, the healer can offer energy or a container, but if there is not an open space for energy exchange, or a capacity to use the container, then what is left is “sitting with the experience” of stuckness.

This “stuckness” can in itself be healing if approached from a Mindful place. It is like sitting with a friend who has to decide something important and can’t see a way forward. The two of you sit quietly. No pressure. Waiting for some kind of revelation, a sign. Some message from deeper. It helps to have a friend, one that is out there or in there.

There are things one can do to aid and abet revelation, but the first requirement is “openness, curiosity, and a capacity for self-compassion.” These are qualities that are hard to come by sometimes. So, asking what’s in the way can be helpful.

bruce Gibbs

Bruce Gibbs, Ph.D., is an explorer of consciousness in many different realms. A Focusing trainer, meditation teacher, and management consultant with decades of experience with each, he has been developing a meditation method that uses Felt-sensing as its base.