Gestalt Process Support Groups With Ukrainian Colleagues

October 2, 2022 @ 1:00 pm – 3:30 pm
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Nancy Amendt-Lyon, Susan Gregory, and Perry Klepner

Presenters: Nancy Amendt-Lyon, Susan Gregory, and Perry Klepner


Shortly before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, contact was made with a Gestalt colleague in Ukraine, and shelter in Vienna, Austria, was offered. This Ukrainian colleague had plans to flee to a different European country, where her husband’s family lived, yet a dialogue ensued about how we can support our Ukrainian colleagues. The idea of conducting weekly 90-minute supervision groups was born.

The Ukrainian colleague organized several groups according to professional level and found interpreters for each group. As a result, there are six parallel weekly online groups in this project. In addition, the themes of the groups have been intentionally left open to whatever becomes figural for the participants every week (i.e., safety, separation from family/friends/homes, existential threats, suffering from lack of electricity/heat/water/food, guilt and shame regarding the participants’ flight from war zones, their need to reconnect with family, friends, and one another, their determination to die with dignity rather than surrender to the Russian invaders, and the conscious decision to remain in charge of one’s own actions = agency).

The presenters will discuss how the groups emerged, the conditions under which we work, and the themes of the groups, as well as explore important aspects of the group leaders’ tasks (i.e., making room for strong feelings and existential threats, “containing” strong emotions and resonating with them, engaging the conflict and making it explicit, and giving support as best as possible in the situation). What was first intended as a supervision group became a process support group, including experiential work and theoretical inputs. We will also discuss the danger of secondary traumatization.

This will be a didactic and experiential presentation with small groups and group-as-a-whole included.


Nancy Amendt-Lyon, MA, DPhil, was born in New York and studied psychology in the United States, Switzerland, and Austria. She trained in Gestalt therapy and group psychoanalysis, and has been in private practice in Austria since 1978. Nancy is the associate editor of Gestalt Review, the founding chairperson of the Austrian Association for Gestalt Therapy (ÖVG), and a member of the Austrian Association for Psychotherapy (ÖBVP) and the European Association for Gestalt Therapy (EAGT). She has many years of experience training Gestalt therapists in Austria and abroad. Her numerous publications include Timeless Experience: Laura Perls’s Unpublished Notebooks and Literary Texts 1946–1985, Creative License: The Art of Gestalt Therapy, and a début novel, Case Unclosable.

Susan Gregory has been a Gestalt therapist and life coach in private practice for almost 30 years and has taught aspects of Gestalt therapy theory and practice throughout the world as both guest faculty and workshop presenter at conferences. In addition, she teaches singing and the Gindler approach to breath and body work. She has written four book chapters on the nexus of Gestalt therapy and breath and body work as well as more than 20 articles that treat various aspects of Gestalt therapy/voice/breath. Susan is a past president of the New York Institute for Gestalt Therapy.

Perry Klepner, LCSW, has been a psychotherapist in private practice in New York City and Kingston, NY, since 1977. He has been an instructor at several Gestalt institutes and provides training, supervision, and individual, couples, and group therapy. He trained with Laura Perls, Isadore From, and Richard Kitzler at the New York Institute for Gestalt Therapy, where he is a past president (1993–95) and a Full Member, Fellow, and instructor. He has authored articles and led workshops on Gestalt therapy at numerous conferences in the U.S. and abroad.