By Dawn Gwilt
This year we tried something different on the day of the UKAGP AGM. In previous years we have held either a one-day (or three day) conference with a guest speaker or facilitator to run the day. This year we tried a bold experiment – no facilitator, just coming together as a community to see what emerges on the day.
For me, the open format of this day enabled something important to happen that I don’t think would have happened in the usual facilitator-led format.
While sitting in community and listening to what others shared, a need came into my awareness that I’d been completely oblivious to. I realised I was bringing a different self, a different me to this day, as at the previous conference in July 2015 I was working on my dissertation, and since then I have become qualified and gained my UKCP registration.
During ourcommunity meeting I suddenly realised I wanted to celebrate and to be affirmed and witnessed by this community that I am part of.
Becoming qualified is an important rite-of- passage that deserves noting, honouring and celebrating. And that’s what happened! I expressed my need to the group, stood up, and there were cheers, applause and high-fives. It felt great! This was especially important to me as there has been no graduation ceremony at my training institute, which for me feels incomplete.
There was something about being witnessed by the group that represents my professional community that felt very powerful and empowering. And I think the celebration was a two-way thing – with me being welcomed and the community doing the welcoming. My hope is that this can become a tradition at UKAGP gatherings, and that other newly qualified practitioners can experience what I felt – being welcomed whole-heartedly into this new stage by elders, trainees, and the wider Gestalt UKAGP community.View post >
On June 4th, the UKAGP hosted their first ever Student Day, held on the day before the Community Day for the wider UKAGP community.
Both days took place at Colet House in London, and future student days are proposed for different parts of the country. The day was open to any Gestalt student in training and the theme for the day was “Who is in your tribe?” The invitation was for students from all the Gestalt training institutes in the UK to come together for an experiential day without a facilitator or speaker, in order to explore our experience of belonging and not belonging, and to see what would emerge.
Helen Thomas and I (Dawn Gwilt) organised the day, and we resisted the pull towards what felt like a safer option of working out a plan for the day. Instead we worked to prepare the ground, leaving the direction of the day to emerge from the group. A total of 15 students signed up, and on the day 8 of us turned up for this experiment.
What emerged was very rich and energised, including asking important questions, recognising the need for a gestalt student network, and some plans for how to proceed with this.
Some of the questions raised were:
- Why don’t we do more student–led gatherings?
- How can we support future events for students?
- Why is training so difficult, and does it need to be?
- How can we get more support for setting up in private practice?
- What support is there for being a gestaltist in an un-gestalt placement?
- How can we experience more after-care at the end of training?
- Where are the other voices? An interest in hearing from students at the training institutes not represented on this day.
Specific ideas that emerged were: to start a facebook group, a reading group, a forum for sharing and publishing student writing and having it peer reviewed, and a proposed research project to interview therapists about how they set up in private practice. There was excitement about using virtual community to promote inclusivity.
The participants agreed that what felt new and important about this day was that because we were free from any tie to a specific training institute, the day was free to emerge without the pressure of meeting a course requirement, or of being observed or marked by a tutor. As someone put it, “There is no need to look over one’s shoulder.” It was novel to be part of starting a community – a forum organised by an organic group and not an institution. There was excitement about starting small and growing outwards from there.View post >
With Gillian Downie and Melanie Beer
Gestalt Centre Wales, Chepstow
14th October 2016 10am – 4pm
Trapped in the mirror, I am insufficient, inadequate. I need to improve. Toxic. I rage. Envy. I need someone to blame. Status. I need admiration. Shame. I do not have the right to exist. I’m frightened of being found out.
Defensive narcissism uses a façade of arrogance and superiority to cover up an underlying sense of worthlessness and inadequacy. When this façade is disrupted, one falls into shame and self hating depression. To avoid this happening, narcissists usually resort to grandiose assertions about their specialness, or their closeness to a person they perceive to be special. Alternatively, they attack another’s self worth, and thus put others down to make themselves feel superior. This can feel very toxic to be on the receiving end. (Paraphrase of Elinor Greenberg 2013)
This workshop will encourage compassion for our own narcissistic wounds and how we work with defensive narcissism in the therapeutic relationship. We will offer a felt sense of navigating the narcissistic territory through experiential learning, including a story enactment. We will reflect verbally on this experience to inform our self development and our role as therapists in this area.
The child “comes to believe that even if she does succeed she is merely gold over shit, the façade of beauty over true ugliness. The ‘successful’ child of a narcissist feels like a fake, since the true self is identified with failure” (Golomb 1992:28).
Gillian Downie is a gestalt psychotherapist and dramatherapist. She has a particular interest in the narcissistic wound and the impact systemic and cultural narcissism has on us and our relationships. Gillian works in private practice and for the NHS with individuals and groups.
Melanie Beer is a dramatherapist, She works in adult mental health and with children and young people. She is interested in the transformative power of play and how this can facilitate growth.View post >
CPD Event with Rich Hycner @ Gestalt Centre Wales
Three- day Workshop – 16th – 18th September 2016
The aim of this workshop is to explore the professional artistry involved in our psychotherapy work when balancing the client’s emotional safety with her/his growing edge (while in the background the therapist is also balancing her/his own safety and growing edge).
There will be a presentation of theory, numerous individual demonstrations of relational work, and the likelihood of a group demonstration, and in-depth clinical discussions of the demonstrations. If participants wish, there can even be supervised practice sessions.
Newcomers to this workshop are welcome while those who have participated in previous workshops will be able to build on their previous experience.
Rich is particularly focused on the therapeutic relationship as the nexus for healing, and views the therapist’s presence as an especially unique and challenging medium for exploring the relational and experiential dimensions of therapy. The therapist needs to be mindful of her/his emotional range and depth, to be as fully present as possible to the innumerable possibilities of connecting and/or disconnecting in the therapeutic relationship.
It is an ever ongoing challenge to be as present as possible to “what is,” but to also imagine and “lean into” the next connecting movement toward “what can be.” The therapist’s acutely sensitive attunement leads to either greater relational connection and the client’s (and possibly the therapist’s) intrapersonal integration—or if momentarily unattuned, this may lead to further relational disconnection, defensiveness, and compartmentalization. Even these moments of apparent relational disconnection will be explored for turning them into possibilities for deeper therapeutic connections.
Rich’s thinking is permeated by Martin Buber’s philosophy of dialogue and Erving and Miriam Polster’s creative Gestalt therapy approaches, and forty-three years of being a psychotherapist. He is the author of Between Person and Person: Toward a Dialogical Psychotherapy and co-author with Lynne Jacobs of The Healing Relationship: A Dialogic/Self Psychology Approach. Rich and Lynne Jacobs also co-edited; Relational Approaches in Gestalt Therapy.
DATE: 16th – 18th September 2016
VENUE: Gestalt Centre Wales, ( Venue TBA ) Please advise if you have accessibility requirements
TIMINGS: Arrive from 5.30pm Friday with a prompt start at 6.00 – 9.00pm. Saturday & Sunday 8:30am for a 9.00am – 5.00pm
COST: Early Bird: £360.00 (if booked by 1st May 2016) Otherwise £450.00
Deposit: £100 non-refundable for workshop. If you wish to begin a payment plan to spread costs, please contact me and details can be clarified. post to Anne Pettit at the Gestalt Centre Wales.
HOW TO BOOK: Please confirm attendance to firstname.lastname@example.org or by
CANCELLATIONS: If you cancel more than 21 days before the course you will receive a 50% refund. No cancellations or transfers otherwise.
Lunch & Refreshments available (Please advise if there are dietary requirements).View post >
Blackfort Adolescent Gestalt Institute
The aim of this two-year in-depth training programme is to explore and appreciate the complexity of adolescent process and to support counsellors/therapists in developing deeper levels of competency in their work with adolescents who are experiencing psychological and developmental difficulties.
The training will address adolescent development and psychotherapy from a Gestalt Relational perspective. There will be a particular focus on the impact of trauma in adolescence as students understand the adolescent’s development as creative adjustment in context and track the interactive evolution of the adolescent’s contact repertoire and the relational field of which the adolescent is a part.
Themes for the training will include:
• The nature of adolescent development, including transformation of the adolescent’s relationship with him/herself, the social world & parents
• Understanding clinical symptoms as developmental field phenomena.
• Utilising a field approach for designing clinical interventions
• The critical role of shame in the clinical situation
• The pragmatics of engaging the adolescent and parents in therapy
Course Duration: Two Years: September 2016 – June 2018 (8 weekends per year)
Course Director: Bronagh Starrs MIAHIP
Course Consultant & Senior Faculty: Mark McConville Ph.D.
Venue: Dundalk, Ireland (40 minutes from Dublin International Airport)
For detailed course description & application forms please email email@example.comView post >
Our Commuity Day and AGM on 5th June was conceived as an ‘open space’ to meet creatively and allow the emergent take place, and proved to be a intimate, engaging, fun and thoughtful event.
For our 2016 event, the committee felt a need to focus on comments expressed at the previous conference, and decided to ‘provide the space, and see what happened’. All we would set would be a start and end time, and encourage all attendees to bring lunch that could be shared.
However and rather than describe the particulars of what happened, as the moment is passed, I’d like to share a few post-conference comments we received, through which our friends and colleagues express their own experience.
“UKAGP embodies a sense of the Gestalt ‘spirit’ – the shared values and lived discipline that Gestalt experience manifests. Whenever Gestaltists come together I notice a distinctive quality of energy, good feeling, and what I call ‘Whole Intelligence’ that arises. It comes from creating a shared relational field, coming into the present, acknowledging what’s happening in the room, and identifying what needs to happen that will serve the meeting best. It was great to be part of such an event, where we also connected inter-generationally to remember roots and history, and how the present can easily mirror the past – a fascinating exploration. I thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the Community Day.”
“I did not know what to expect from the day, but found myself feeling disappointed and a little fearful of exposing my vulnerable-self in a group which was much smaller than I had imagined. However, my disappointment and anxieties quickly disappeared much like the view from a fast-moving train, and as the minutes ticked by I experienced group members as warm, open and equally vulnerable.
I felt much ease upon realising that I felt completely at one with these relative strangers as we got stuck in with contracting that the day would be student-led and allowed to evolve in an organic and spontaneous manner – which it did without difficulty. Very Gestalt, I thought. And my guess is that my Gestalt Centre tutors would approve! As thoughts were expressed, feelings revealed, and creative ideas shared, I became aware of how much I was enjoying each member and his/her contributions, as well as the group as a whole – which I felt incredibly privileged to be part of.
The experience of listening and really being listened to, supporting and truly being supported ensured my complete presence and attention. I was also aware of another – less familiar – feeling: that of feeling secure within the group. And this felt GOOD. So good. Full of joy from feeling the warmth and security of the group, I felt able to participate fully, to contribute and to be fully authentic; no mean feat for me as a struggling trainee.
I feel this experience was special and I feel satisfied at what we achieved. However, as pointed out by John on the day, I too am wondering “why don’t [people] get together like this more often”?
As we parted and I headed for my train, I pondered on John’s question once more and thought: “I want more of this”!”
“I really enjoyed meeting all of you at the UKAGP community day. It felt important to be there, I think the small number made it more meaningful in a way.
I like to remember that I came down to London, with the support I received from my colleagues in Manchester, as none of them could attend the day, and they encouraged me to make it.
I felt a block during the passage between awareness and mobilisation and I am glad that I asked for and then I received the support I needed in order to move and take action.
In fact, as I said during the event, I didn’t then find any difficulties and/or distress in travelling and being there with you. The all experience felt a bit odd in terms of number of people (I expected more people as most of us did) and a programme of the day: I usually attend workshops and conferences where there are speakers and specific themes.
The beauty of the day was that we just experienced the theme. The only aspect I missed was body movement – maybe it is because I have recently experienced “The Street” method – I felt like the chairs were an obstacle to movement sometimes.”
“I have a few thoughts about what was left for me of the day: the interesting mix of people that attended, 21 of us, Rachel holding the space, the initial concern with low numbers that became an invitation to be present for those who did attend, the working through complains and disappointments towards expression and acknowledgment of needing support and the spontaneous figure of interest and offerings that followed and kept building up throughout the day.
Dawn’s unfinished business that became a graduation celebration. Malcolm’s facilitation that invited all voices and allowed expression of some rebellion, Hugh’s emotive recount of his experience of retroflected emotions that found release through music and through his sharing with us, just a reminder of emergent creativity that paralleled our group process that day.
Having lunch together in the sunny patio, the interesting discussions during the AGM and emerging appreciation of the community spirit present and the fear of it been drown by regulations and changes.
The holding experience of a group that had fresh and new members that knew nothing of how things are done and the old and wise that had seen it all…
My final thought, having been part of organising the day, was that having been so focussed on our initial concern, the offering of an open space to the community, I had never imagined that what would emerge, that sense of community – the experience of feeling and thinking and sharing and the listening to the diverse voices, the working through conflict, the appreciations, the whole day – would be so nurturing for all of us.”
Finally, Malcolm Parlett had copies copies of his latest book ‘Future Sense’ and is kindly willing continue his offer of a discounted price for UKAGP members. Malcolm can be contacted on 01865 201 528.View post >
by Malcolm Parlett
Before I got caught up so intensely in working for the UK to Remain part of the EU – prompted by fear of the opposite result, which has since hit us so brutally – I attended the wonderful Community Day organised by UKAGP. I have several reflections, looking back on the day from a post-referendum vantage point – and finding points of resonance with our wider European story in the process.
I was around when UKAGP was formed – as were several others who attended the Community Day. Part of what happened was that we revisited the basics of the organisation: why we exist, how we came about as a professional community, and practising what we collectively believe in.
Two strong, distinguishing features of UKAGP stand out: first, that within Britain, the organisation is a confederation, a collective, a communal enterprise that manifests its shared love of Gestalt. It came into existence as a counterpoint to the EU equivalent of ‘national differences’. Historically, the various institutes and trainings around the UK grew up separately, developing their different personalities, styles, and ways of interpreting Gestalt and they were often suspicious towards other similar organisations. What slowly became evident, however – especially through international conferences, and a shared growing literature – was that there is also an unmistakable culture, style, philosophical attitude, and creative spirit which is shared among Gestaltists: something special that differentiates us from other approaches and supports us in being ourselves, and awareness of which is re-created afresh when we get together. So we recognise our similarities as proponents of Gestalt in Britain and Northern Ireland, while also acknowledging areas of distinctiveness. In this regard, UKAGP underlines and ‘carries’ the shared ideals we hold in common, (rather in the same way that the EU at its best is able to demonstrate something that transcends varied national differences).
Second, we acknowledged that UKAGP is the vehicle that represents the British Gestalt community explicitly in the European context, being affiliated as we are to the European Association for Gestalt Therapy (EAGT), Through this European connection, we are reminded of our richness and openness as a specialist field and our readiness to reach out to others from across the whole European continent and beyond. Given that Gestalt enthusiasts and seekers are not thick on the ground – that is, conceived in merely national and local terms – we are reminded that through UKAGP’s institutional membership of EAGT, we are included within a continent-wide community of professional peers, all interestingly varied and from whom we can learn. It is part of our stable ground. We must hope that this European connectedness is enhanced and valued even more now – given the post-referendum situation we are facing in the UK.
The Community Day reminded us of so much: our origins and purpose, and what holds us together. In the characteristic way we have long evolved in the Gestalt world, we met, conversed, and made new contacts and connections – never departing for too long from (1) acknowledging what was happening in the room; (2) manifesting inclusiveness and welcome to different voices; (3) cultivating respectful dialogue, good listening, as well as plain speaking (rather than making vague ‘speeches-into-the-air’); (4) exploring departures from ‘what felt deeply true to the great majority of those present’; (5) tracing the points of emerging interest and energy, and (6) identifying what needed to happen next that would serve the meeting best.
These all helped the distinctive quality of energy and good feeling to come into existence. In my book, Future Sense, I call it an emergence of ‘Whole Intelligence’ that arises from creating a shared relational field, taking response-ability for what occurs within it, remaining embodied, recognising our own contributions to the field, and being open to experimenting with what is unfamiliar and yet necessary.
Altogether, I thought it was a wonderful day, and I was glad to be part of it. I found myself inevitably feeling ‘grandparently’ at times and was delighted to reconnect with some fellow grandparents. But what stands out most vividly for me was meeting subsequent generations – bringing energy and expertise, newly discovered enthusiasm, colour, vibrancy, the torch being for ever passed to those newly finding for themselves the joy, courage, and challenges of pursuing Gestalt. For me it was like being immersed in spring and early summer again rather than in the autumnal normality of my present professional existence. Inevitably, too, there were reminders of today’s leaders having to grapple with similar issues that previous generations encountered in their time – like the time demands of leadership and of serving the community, often without a lot of support.
UKAGP needs to spread its benefits and the rewards of participation as members. Some did not come because it was ‘only a community day’, with no stated ‘professional theme’. How much they missed that was pure Gestalt in action! For members, there are also practical advantages. For instance, I sold copies of my new book Future Sense: Five Explorations of Whole Intelligence for a World That’s Waking Up, at a discounted price.* I also had an opportunity to invite Members to the Marianne Fry Lecture in Bristol this September. **
Finally, I want to convey immense thanks to the organisers, who worked behind the scenes to make this stylish, informative, and friendly event such a success. They give their time and effort to make good things happen. By volunteering to be an organiser yourself, you can have a ‘shared Gestalt experience’ more often and more fully, sharing with others while also putting yourself forward to help make things happen. Everyone benefits: many discover new friendships through working together, and how they can enjoy enhanced ‘response-ability’ – it’s a great ‘personal development opportunity’!
There’s an exciting challenge – to take Gestalt forward, both nationally and internationally into its next emergent phase…. (If only there had been an equivalent Remain message – strong, well-articulated, positive, and espousing our best British values: that would have ‘set the field’ aright!)
* Details of how to get copies of Future Sense are on my website www.fiveexplorations.com. (There is a book review by Sally Denham-Vaughan in the current issue of the British Gestalt Journal). If anyone wants contact with me about my book, or wants me to come and talk about it to a group of Gestaltists, please do contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
** The Lecture will be given by Belinda Harris on Fear, Love, and Learning. For details, see www.mariannefrylectures.com.View post >