Content of the activity and a detailed outline of the event
The Gestalt approach is:
1. Existential, because
It is grounded in the here and now
It emphasises that each person is responsible for his or her own destiny
The client feels contacted by the therapist in the immediacy of the session, resulting in the experience of being seen, recognised and affirmed
2. Phenomenological, because
It focuses on the client’s perception of reality
Utilises and develops client awareness as a transformative tool
It is oriented towards experience rather than interpretation or abstract categorisation
3. Experiential, because
Clients come to grips with what and how they are thinking, feeling and doing through interaction with the therapist
It helps the client make contact with their own personal experiences with vividness and embodiment, rather than just ‘talk about’ them
The client and therapist co-create new ways of addressing the world that allow the client to experiment with being different, and acting differently
4. Relational, because
It takes an “I/Thou” approach to the client/therapist relationship
‘Resistance’ is conceived in interactive terms, not as client pathology
It emphasises the interpersonal rather than intra-psychic, and thus is a systemic therapy
The workshop will explore a contemporary understanding of Gestalt therapy and its applications, both as an approach to living, as well as a therapeutic modality.
We will start with a theoretical overview, covering the 4 Pillars of Gestalt:
1. Phenomenology: the science of awareness
2. Dialogue: I-Thou relating
3. Field Theory: Holism
4. Experiment: risking the new
The workshop will provide an introduction to each of these areas, and then follow through with exercises and experiential demonstration work. The emphasis will be twofold - personal integration, and professional practice.
The Gestalt view is that the basis for understanding the client is a deeper understanding of oneself. This is the underlying characteristic of a dialogical therapy, and it is embedded both in learning and practicing Gestalt.
Although many facets of Gestalt have now become familiar and integrated into the world of psychotherapy, it still retains a characteristic focus on authenticity. In the 1960’s this tended to have a sharp confrontative edge. In current times, the Gestalt approach has widened to incorporate an understanding of many other complexities of relational work, including the impact of shame and the importance of context.
One of the many dimensions Gestalt drew on was psychodrama, and this was incorporated as the colourful and creative approach embedded in the ‘Gestalt Experiment’. The best known example of this is the ‘two chair’ process. Unfortunately, this one component of Gestalt became magnified and identified as Gestalt practice. In current times, the creative component of Gestalt has been retained, and is now more fully integrated into the process and relational orientation, moving it out of ‘technique’ and into a more fluid way of working.
This workshop will address these contemporary understandings, and demonstrate how they are applied in relational Gestalt therapy.
By the conclusion of this seminar participants will be able to:
Understand the core theoretical frames of Gestalt therapy
Understand the application of Field theory in Gestalt process
Understand the use of awareness, and the phenomenological approach
Understand the core elements of dialogical therapy
Understand the way creative experimentation can be used in therapy, in service of both awareness and behavioural change.
Understand ways in which an existential approach to psychotherapy can be integrated with relational and attachment based approaches.
Enter more fully into authentic dialogue.
Introductions in the group
Overview of the Gestalt model
Topic 1: awareness
Outline of the phenomenological approach
Awareness exercise, discussion
Demonstration of application of phenomenological principles in therapeutic process
Topic 2: Introduction to field theory - presentation of core principles
Demonstration of application of field theory in therapeutic process
Topic 3: Introduction to the dialogical approach - presentation of core principles
Demonstration of application of the dialogical approach in therapeutic process
Reflection and discussion
Wrap up and checkout
Questions and issues arising
Authentic contact - exercise in the group
Discussion and implications
Topic 4: Introduction to the Gestalt experiment - presentation of core principles
Demonstration of application of experiment in therapeutic process
Demonstration of an I-thou approach in therapeutic process
I-thou exercise, discussion
Some interactive-group Gestalt work
How will participants benefit from attending this seminar?
Learn the core framework of the Gestalt approach
Gain both personal and professional understanding of the process of authentic dialogue
Understand the transformative power and methodology of an existential orientation to change
Learn the Gestalt approach to tailored, creative experiments as an embodied approach to getting unstuck