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 >
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 protected]View 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 [email protected].
** The Lecture will be given by Belinda Harris on Fear, Love, and Learning. For details, see www.mariannefrylectures.com.View post >