UKAGP Consultative Group – Progress Update

An Overview of the meeting on Friday 8th January 2016, at the Gestalt Centre, London

Beginning

After the first short meeting to form the CG at the UKAGP conference in July 2015, where representatives from various organisations came together in support of creating this group, and positive feedback from all the organisations contacted, we finally found a date that most people could make to meet.

However, circumstances interrupted that, and in the end we received apologies from 8 delegates out of the 20 people, (18 delegates and reserve delegates from 14 organisations) who were invited, and in the event 9 delegates from 6 organisations were able to attend, along with two UKAGP members as facilitator and note taker. Although we had 3 hours allocated, people arrived in stages, and there was just over an hour whereeveryone was present at the same time.

This felt like a huge achievement, and I experienced excitement and energy as the group grew, and we continued to reintroduce ourselves, each iteration clarifying our sense of purpose as we began the process of finding out who we were and what we were doing there.

There was a sense of occasion, and it was recognised that there had been many previous attempts over the years to bring Gestalt institutes together, and that something about this felt different and with potential for a meeting of the wider community.

I explained the two main strands that had led me to initiate the Consultative Group (CG) in the first place: UKAGP, as the umbrella association or National Organisation of Gestalt Therapy (NOGT) is authorised to represent Gestalt Therapy at the European Association for Gestalt Therapy (EAGT).

Each European country that has a NOGT sends a representative to sit on EAGT’s General Board (GB) which meets twice a year.

When I took this role on as Chair of UKAGP, I began to reflect on how I could do this with more democracy and legitimacy, when there seemed to be a missing piece in the communication. I wanted to create a structure whereby representatives from the various institutes and organisations in the country could meet and share information and knowledge, and from there I (or whoever else was in my position) would have a better idea of the current situation. This would also be a space in which to share what conversations and activities which were being reported in the General Board, which in turn could then be disseminated back to the various organisations.

The second strand, was a wish to enable UKAGP to really put into practice its aims and objectives in its position as an umbrella association. I believe that key members/directors/leaders of the various Gestalt institutes and organisations need to come under that umbrella and meet each other beyond the histories, splits, competition and fantasies of the other, to a place where we can make personal contact, dialogue and learn to collaborate with each other and grow connections.

So this was some of the spirit I tried to share at the meeting, and I certainly felt that it was met with enthusiasm, energy, and support for the wider engagement of the Gestalt community. Whilst we missed the people who weren’t able to make it, it also felt fitting that we started small and everyone was able to speak and be heard.

Well established institutes were represented, like the Gestalt Centre and Metanoia, and ‘younger’ ones such as the Welsh Psychotherapy Partnership and the Albany Centre.

Discussing

The British Gestalt Journal and UKAGP were noted to have some shared objectives in serving and supporting the Gestalt community, and being more active regarding communication routes to the training institutes.

Hopes that the CG could address shared goals and concerns across the institutes, such as the challenges and bureaucracy involved in becoming EAGT members, and then the possibility of getting into EAGT committees, reciprocity of recognition, getting Gestalt added to the CORE form as a modality check box, designing a Gestalt efficacy measure, promoting Gestalt outwards to service users, other modalities andthe wider community.

Recognising younger generations coming through, and the changing field, some EAGT colleagues are promoting and educating the public about Gestalt by engaging with the media, television, and radio, and EAGT is looking to develop a YouTube channel to offer short up to date engaging clips which will challenge the limited and outdated representation that is currently available (i.e. Perls/Gloria film).

We shared our sense of achievements that the different organisations have had – continuing to recruit trainees in the current financial climate, proud of graduates, large group work, social enterprise initiatives for clinics, and funding achieved from a Boston charity for a research conference in Wales, suggestion to contact the EAGT Research committee for potential collaboration/hosting the next conference.

Underlying the value of a national online Gestalt calendar that we all commit to keeping up to date – avoiding unnecessary date clashes, a place to go to check – talk about linking the BGJ online calendar with the UKAGP one once the new website is up. Willingness for institutes to take responsibility for sharing their dates and information with UKAGP.

I encouraged people to look at the EAGT website to understand the structure, see who is involved, and especially look at the HR&SR, PC&CS and Research committee pages, where you can access documents and resources to use and share.

The NOGT representatives meet for an informal gathering for a couple of hours twice a year before the General Board meetings, and any CG member who would like to accompany the delegate would be welcome to do so (cost is not covered).

Having reviewed the earlier plan for a joint conference in 2016, in response to various concerns voiced (including that it would be in competition with the AAGT/EAGT conference), we are looking forward to a very special UKAGP summer residential conference on 30 June – 2 July 2017, where we will celebrate 25 years of the BGJ. We see this as an ideal opportunity for the CG to engage members of their organisations to encourage a wider representation onto the Conference Organising Group (COG), to be part of making it a truly national event. Whilst much work has already been done on the programme plans, specifically from the BGJ inviting international writers to be a key part, it was voiced at the importance of engaging a good representation of UK Gestaltists too, and there is room and space for people to get involved.

Continuing

UKAGP will continue to pay for the organisation of the CG and asks other organisations to pay the expenses of their delegates. There is willingness to share the costs and travel by hosting at different places, but also concern raised about increased costs and time of travelling cross-country rather than to London.

On reflection of the amount of time it took to find this date, and with the hope of maximising the number of people who can make the next meetings, we have decided that for 2016 we agree to meet around two dates that are already in the Gestalt calendar – the UKAGP Community Day/AGM in June, and the BGJ Seminar Day in November. We will send out a Doodle Poll with options of times before and after these two events, and hope that many of us will already be planning to attend, or if not, may then be able to combine the two, thus saving time and reducing costs.

We also ask those of you who have not yet done so, to please send details of a second delegate, who can attend as a reserve if you are not able to.

Thank you to everyone who was part of this exciting afternoon, and we very much look forward to seeing those of you who missed out at our next meeting.

Jacqui Lichtenstern, UKAGP Chair
(with reference to informal notes taken by Adam Smith, UKAGP Secretary)

Delegates Present:

Jacqui Lichtenstern (UKAGP Chair), Liz Beauchamp (UKAGP Vice Chair), Mel Ovens (WPP Founder), Julia Martin (WPP Tutor), Di Hodgson (Metanoia Programme Leader), Ruth Nightingale (Metanoia Tutor), Toni Gilligan (Gestalt Centre Director), Sarah Paul (Albany Centre Tutor), Christine Stevens (BGJ Editor).

Also present: Hugh Pidgeon (UKAGP member as facilitator) and Adam Smith (UKAGP Secretary as note taker).

Delegate Apologies: Jon Wilson (Albany Centre Director), Bob Smith (BCPC Director), Mary Turner & Laurence Hegan (EGI tutors), Rob Tyson (GPTI Chair), Anne Pettit (Gestalt Centre Wales Director), Alessandra Merizzi (MGC tutor), Martin Capps (MFL & RC).

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