Gestalt Therapy International

A community of dialogue

Programs around the world

Facilitating authentic living & working

10 Professional Workshops Available

#1 Personal Growth & Spiritual Growth

#2 The Unvirtues: A non-shaming exploration of self-interest in relationship

#3 Shame and Belonging

#4 Leadership and Power

#5 Family Constellations

#6 Authentic Dialogue

#7 Gestalt process oriented model of working with couples and families

#8 Phenomenology and the therapeutic use of awareness

#9 Field Theory

#10 Gestalt therapy

#8 Phenomenology and the therapeutic use of awareness

an evidence based approach to subjective experience

Content of the activity and a detailed outline of the event

Before post-structuralism was post-modernism...and before that was existentialism...and before that was phenomenology. In the face of the sweeping success of the march of objective science in the 19th Century, Edmund Husserl offered a radical and alternative view.

This approach - known as the science of subjectivity - is just as relevant today, as the psychology industry takes shelter the legitimacy of objective science. Phenomenology offers not only an alternative narrative, through applications in Gestalt therapy it becomes a therapeutic methodology that is startlingly effective.

This approach is contrasted with the interpretive therapies, which offer authoritative interventions based on codified knowledge.

In essence, it involves a kind of anthropological investigation into the clients experience, with the therapist carefully constructing meaning that stays true to the client’s world.

This requires temporarily suspending our knowledge, and even experience, and being able to approach each situation, each client, from a fresh perspective.

This spirit of enquiry is a potent force, allowing us to enter right into the heart of the client’s reality, and understand it from the inside.

Clients feel known and met in this process, yet it involves a remarkably simple approach. By staying with description and observation, the client themselves volunteers their deeper experiences and motivations.

A central tool in this process is the use of awareness, especially sensory and somatic, as these are not caught up in the complex web of explanations which clients often carry, and use to rationalise their problems.

We can track the development of awareness, and note where the unfolding process gets stuck. This is described in Gestalt as the Cycle of Awareness, and it is a very useful tool, both explanatory as well as indicative for interventions.

Existentialism, drawing its roots from Phenomenology, adds certain themes that are useful to therapy. An ability to work with the ‘what is’, allows for a particular mechanism of change - one diametrically different than planned goal setting. In Gestalt this is described as the ‘paradoxical theory of change’, and it flows from the observation that the more change is pushed for, the greater the resistance.

The important endpoint is clinical application. These philosophical perspectives have immediate application to the work of therapy, and provide simple and effective tools for working with clients.

We will explore these tools, and show how easily they can be used.

Important articles by Spinelli and Yontef will be included in the resources.

We cover methods of implementation, use exercises and experiential demonstration work in the group to provide examples of application of the principles.

Learning outcomes

By the conclusion of this seminar participants will be able to:

  • Understand the theoretical framework of Phenomenology
  • Understand the use of awareness as a tool for therapeutic intervention
  • Work with the 3 zones of awareness
  • Understand the methodology of working with phenomenology
  • Understand the difference between description and explanation in therapeutic interventions
  • Understand the process of working with ‘the obvious’ as a tool for change
  • Understand the nature of working with the ‘what is’ as a tool for change
  • Seminar schedule
  • Introductions in the group
  • Presentation of the framework of phenomenology
  • Awareness exercise, discussion
  • Demonstration of working with awareness in therapeutic process
  • Deconstruction, discussion
  • Somatic awareness exercise
  • Demonstration of working with phenomenological method in therapeutic process
  • Deconstruction, discussion
  • Issues arising, discussion
  • Bracketing exercise, discussion
  • Demonstration of working with bracketing in therapeutic process
  • Deconstruction, discussion
  • Issues arising, discussion
  • Demonstration of working with ‘what is’ in therapeutic process
  • Deconstruction, discussion
  • Introduction of awareness cycle
  • Demonstration of working with ‘cycle’ in therapeutic process
  • Deconstruction, discussion
  • Wrap up, checkout

How will participants benefit from attending this seminar?

  • Learn the therapeutic use of non-directed awareness
  • Learn a non-interpretive orientation to therapeutic intervention
  • Understand the practical application of an existential approach to psychotherapy
  • Learn an alternative framework for working with therapeutic change which is present-centred and doesn't use goal setting

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