EAGT – To Join or Not to Join?
A brief overview of the UKAGP Organising Committee’s stance on UKAGP members joining the European Association for Gestalt Therapists (EAGT)
Whenever the UKAGP Organising Committee (OC) meets, we take some time to reconnect with and reconsider the values underpinning gestalt, the community and the organisation. As an accredited National Organisation for Gestalt Therapy (NOGT) member of the EAGT. We have been debating our role as facilitators of individual membership of EAGT, in the light of recent political events, nationally and internationally. This short opinion piece clarifies our current position and we would welcome feedback from the wider community.
Our Gestalt tradition includes: questioning both ourselves and also what is happening in the wider environment, being open to constructive dialogue, supporting people in times of stress, building systems that enable, and finding alternatives to stereotyping, which we view as an interruption to and inhibitor of contact. We want to support our community as a network of people who are capable of rising to the immense challenges associated with social change in a fast-moving world. We want to achieve this from a place of groundedness. This fits with our long tradition in education, which is oriented to widening people’s horizons towards new possibilities, rather than forcing them into and through a pre-determined outcome.
Gestalt practitioners already have established international networks, as recently demonstrated by attendance at the joint conference in Sicily. However, compared with our neighbours, the British Gestalt Community is relatively small. Given the current political trend towards nationalism and tribalism, UKAGP is committed to ensure that we remain connected to our colleagues on the continent and beyond, and that we do not slide into behaving like an insular, isolated island, seduced into thinking we have all the answers here, and that little of merit is happening elsewhere.
Regardless of the individual political differences that might be held regarding the European Union, we believe that there has been a shared sense of shock at many aspects of the referendum campaign, including the ‘othering’ of refugees and immigrants, and at the social repercussions of that, which we are now witnessing. Choosing to connect to colleagues beyond the UK, is one practical way in which we can do something to counter a nationalistic perspective, and hold true to an international and whole-world view. Our aim is to consolidate and extend our networks of support within and beyond Europe, and to be a key member of an organisation that will survive Brexit.
Some European institutes are particularly influential and have their own journals, traditions and conferences. Many UK Gestaltists already practice as supervisors and trainers in mainland Europe, and those with language skills are particularly well situated in this respect. EAGT membership supports and enables such international opportunities for professional development and exchange within and beyond EU countries, including for example, Norway, Israel, Macedonia and Russia.
Being a member of the EAGT strengthens connections between institutes and organisations and individuals beyond the UK , engaging with a wide range of different Gestalt traditions and thinkers.. The UKAGP OC sees it as a healthy choice to remain open to diverse ideas, and to take up opportunities for stimulating new thinking. This feels crucial given the current political situation in the USA, and is one way we can work together given recent collaboration between EAGT and AAGT.
The issue of political values is becoming an increasingly strong and clear figure, and Gestalt theory stands in opposition to the values of the far right. We support radical thinking about society that emphasise people’s well-being, and we are committed to staying energised, connected and mutually supportive. Colleagues attending international meetings, conferences and workshops beyond their own borders often report feeling strengthened, enlivened and grounded in our Gestalt heritage and approach. This is why we want to encourage you to consider joining EAGT as an individual member (either Full or Associate).
To this end the UKAGP OC is currently involved in a process to clarify and simplify access to individual EAGT membership for our members by negotiating a Joint Membership option. It would be helpful for us to have an idea of how many members might like to take up this offer; please register your interest by emailing Jen at firstname.lastname@example.org by the end of April 2017.
We hope to have more details in the next newsletter.