This is a personal sharing of Bro. Rollie regarding the psychogenetics retreat he attended a couple of months ago. In the Philippines, Fr. Ed Fugoso, SVD, is offering weekend retreats through psychogenetics and Gestalt therapy in the light of the Gospels at the SVD Retreat House in Tagaytay City.
Last March 21-22, 2009 I had the opportunity to be part of a retreat conducted by Fr. Ed Fugoso SVD called "Psychogenetics and Gestalt Therapy". I shared this experience with a
group of dubbers on national television. At first I was apprehensive to be part of what I know is an intimate encounter with oneself with complete strangers, but when I got to
talk to some of them during breaks I was to able to befriend most of them and the apprehension left. In a getting-to-know small group session I was able to share my story with
a dubber who also has same-sex attraction (SSA) and so we were comfortable sharing the most intimate parts of our past lives with one another. I shared room with another dubber
who turned out to be a former Singles for Christ member (inactive) and who is a single father raising a daughter. I know then God has arranged for me to be part of this
Most of the first day was devoted to learning key concepts about Psychogenetics and the role of our family of origin to our present reactions (especially in stressful
situations) as adults. Having studied guidance and counseling in my masteral studies facilitated my understanding of these concepts (which is best to be discussed in detail
during the retreat itself). In the afternoon we were given an exercise that would help us apply the psychogenetics concepts in our personal lives - tracing relationships
between and with our parents especially in our early years of 0 - 10 years old. Fr. Ed guided us in every step of the exercise, as it was crucial not to commit mistakes due to
misinterpretations or misunderstanding of his instructions. We had to know our own inner selves (inner child, inner parent, inner adult, inner mate, and inner couple) through
the proper accomplishment of the psychogenetics exercise. The exercise was revealing, and I myself was in tears when I realized deep emotions connected to my relationships with
my parents. The day concluded with a beautiful Eucharistic Adoration in Taize where we offered our painful as well as joyful realizations to our Lord. We had some bonding time
together in the small garden where my fellow retreatants and I exchanged ideas about the retreat (I had a good dose of second hand smoke from them that night hehe). Afterwhich
we had to call it a night while some of my scriptwriter-companions worked on their deadlines through the night, while others had to continue talking among themselves in the
corridors of the rooms. My room mate and I chose to go early to bed after an exhausting day (well not after we had our own share of story-telling with each other, until his
daughter called him up through his phone - that's my signal to sleep hehe).
In the morning, the good father then led us to an understanding of Gestalt therapy and how we can use the results of our exercise to "re-program" our cognition to develop
healthier interactions with other people. I have encountered Gestalt in my masteral studies, but it was great to be reminded of the concepts of this therapy that is aimed at
"integration". He then led us to three Gestalt techniques - imagery, role-playing and empty chair - which was a mixed emotion of joy and pain and of being disturbed. We each
had our experience with imagery - and we each had a chance to tell the tale (and the emotions that go along with it) of going back to our past. A volunteer came forward to
experience role-playing and the empty chair technique. He narrated his personal story based on our psychogenetics exercise and we helped him role-play the events of his life. He also had a chance to be processed by Father Ed using the empty chair technique and it was disturbing as I know it was liberating for him (the person was my partner the first day who also had SSA). I commented afterwards that even though I may have studied Gestalt in masteral studies, it was worth noting to see actual implementation of the said therapy, and it just confirmed my belief that this type of therapy is only for someone who is brave enough to be rigorously honest about himself and courageous enough to face the pain accompanying the freedom from certain behavioral patterns. We ended the whole process by a unity song and the celebration of the Mass by the good father.
The whole experience of the retreat gave me a new perspective about therapy and how we could integrate psychology with the practice of our spirituality. It helped me face my issues with my family of origin and I was able to appreciate them more and be thankful for what they have contributed to my life space.
Hope everyone could avail of this great experience! Although I am for a homogeneous grouping (for persons with SSA) in order for rigorous honesty to be attained, especially for persons who may not be comfortable sharing their SSA experiences with complete strangers.
God bless everyone.