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ALL PRESENTATIONS ARE WITHOUT CHARGE.
Presenter: Perry Gunther
A simple definition of space is that it is an empty distance between things. In a sense, space itself does not exist. But when space is embodied, it is more than an emptiness. In therapy, it might describe what goes on in the space between the therapist and patient. In art, paintings are not only about what things look like, they are also about the embodied space that brings life to the paintings. This presentation is an inquiry about embodied space in art and its relationship to embodied space in therapy. It is particularly timely now that we are conducting therapy online. What kind of space are we engaged in electronically? This presentation includes a slide demonstration as well as didactic experiments with space.
This is Perry Gunther’s second presentation at NYIGT. His first one was entitled Meeting Art at the Contact Boundary.
Perry began his career as an artist studying with noted artists of the New York School, including Ad Reinhardt and Tony Smith. He received his Master of Fine Arts degree under the tutelage of William Rubin, then the head curator at MoMA. After he submitted a paper on the influence of Frank Lloyd Wright on the De Stijl movement in Holland, Rubin suggested that he pursue a career as an art historian. Instead, Perry chose to continue as a practicing artist, as a denizen of the SoHo renaissance in Lower Manhattan, subsequently becoming a professor of sculpture at Cleveland State University, Hunter College, and Brooklyn College. His works have been exhibited at OK Harris Gallery and Max Hutchinson Gallery in New York City, and are in numerous collections, including the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Brooklyn Museum. In 1988, Perry installed a site-specific artwork inside the Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland. He pursued a career in Gestalt therapy when he came to understand that the greatest gift an artist can be given is a sense of self-esteem. Perry received his training at Gestalt Associates for Psychotherapy.
Presenter: Mariano Pizzimenti (Italy)
A new orientation for couples therapy, working with sexual disorder, and other contexts where confrontation is important but dangerous and difficult.
With “sexual aggressiveness,” we define the experience in which aggression and sexuality can be combined with each other in a figure/ground relationship, which is not polarizing nor based on antithesis. It is the situation in which love and destruction, as well as hunger and sexuality, can simultaneously coexist.
Sexual aggression is an evolutionary behavior and concept, which comes from experiencing that I can attack and destroy resting on a background of love, desire, and creativity. I can desire, love, and create while maintaining the ability to attack and eventually destroy what I do not need and/or damages me in the relationship with another person. Aggression and sexuality come together in a figure/ground relationship, in which one can stay in the foreground while the other feeds and limits it from the background.
After a short introduction, we will experience how to nourish the background with care, pleasure, erotism, and intimacy, while in the foreground, there will be aggressivity, clarity, and even separation. In accordance with the interest of the participants, we will experience this special kind of figure/background relationship in a couples session and/or group session, entering also in the field of sexual disorder.
The different experiments will be influenced by the group, and I hope that in the context of NYIGT, we will be able to build new experiences.
Mariano Pizzimenti is a psychologist and psychotherapist, and the founder and director of the Gestalt School of Turin. He was trained in Gestalt therapy by Isha Larry Bloomberg and Robert Hall. He began his activity as a therapist in 1981 and has since practiced and taught Gestalt therapy in Italy, Germany, Scotland, and Ireland. Mariano is also the past president of FISIG (Federazione Italiana Scuole e Istituti di Gestalt). In addition, he is the author of the book Aggression and Sexuality: The Figure/Background Relationship Between Pleasure and Pain.
Presenter: Yaqui Andrés Martínez Robles (Mexico)
When we reflect on the theme of love, we commonly refer to the various erotic-affective phenomena that arise in a couple’s relationship, or we think of love only as an emotional experience. In The Loving Gaze, we will reflect and share from a phenomenological-existential and relational proposal about love as an experience that goes beyond emotions and that transcends a couple’s relationship, to speak of it as a way of being-with-the-other, a posture that can enrich the Gestalt therapeutic relationship. We will try to reflect from our personal experience, as Plato suggests in the dialogue in his Symposium.
My name is Yaqui Andrés Martínez Robles Ph.D. I live in Mexico City with my wife and our two cats. In my therapeutic practice, my work style is a mixture of a Gestalt relational approach and the existential-phenomenological model.
I’m a clinical psychologist, with an M.A. and a Ph.D. in humanistic psychotherapy and a major in Gestalt therapy.
I have also completed doctoral studies in philosophy with a major in psychotherapy.
I’ve been a teacher for more than 20 years at the Instituto Humanista de Psicoterapia Gestalt (Humanistic Institute for Gestalt Psychotherapy) in Mexico.
I founded the Círculo de Estudios en Terapia Existencial (Circle of Studies on Existential Therapy) in Mexico, 18 years ago, where I coordinate a master’s degree in existential therapy. www.circuloexistencial.org
I’ve been a teacher at several universities and institutes in Mexico and other countries.
Nowadays, I’m studying electric guitar and enjoy listening to music very much.
How does incompletion define trauma?
Consider how overwhelm can result in a figure of incompletion. This might stem from some reaction to a situation that interrupts one’s taking the needed action to arrive at a completion of a projected figure — a more positive outcome of some sort. The resultant figure is imbued with frustration as it begs for completion. We then carry this frustration through life in the face of certain challenges and our ability to more effectively deal with such situations becomes compromised. This, in essence, is the result of a gestalt we call “trauma,” a situation that is clearly not wanted, and yet, for whatever reasons, is unfortunately not prevented!
When this occurs, we are left with pieces of a puzzle that we can’t readily put together. As we take on the task of the situation at hand and attempt to move in a direction toward completion, we are somehow interrupted or frustrated. The result is an incomplete gestalt. We are left with feelings associated with something not accomplished. Until we can manage these leftovers and arrive at some sense of completion, we will experience a sense of being stuck with a feeling of “ill-resolve.” The result of this somewhat amorphous trap is generally some form of FRUSTRATION!
A properly designed experiment would be one that involves access to adequate resources to manage and hopefully alleviate such frustration. The focus of this presentation will be on realizing the nature of such resources and how they can be accessed and utilized to relieve the sense of overwhelm and frustration of trauma by supporting a figure that could have resulted in a different gestalt!
Frank Bosco, MA, BC-MT, LCAT, LMT, RPP, SEP, is a body-oriented music psychotherapist and a former president of NYIGT. He began working with Gestalt principles in music psychotherapy in the late 1970s in various hospital settings while studying at NYU. At the same time, he got a license in massage therapy and began exploring various approaches to body-oriented psychotherapy, such as the work of Wilhelm Reich and neo-Reichians like Alexander Lowen (Bioenergetics) and later Stanley Keleman. Throughout the 1980s, he worked in private practice, where he began incorporating and then later teaching East/West philosophies and practices along with Ericksonian hypnosis in an eclectic therapy approach called Polarity Therapy. In the mid-1990s, he began studying Peter Levine’s Somatic Experiencing approach to trauma in the first New York–based training and was impressed by how much this new approach employed theories and practices that were consistent with those of Gestalt therapy.
Frank has been teaching and leading music therapy groups at NYU since 1990 and elsewhere since 1981. He has had a mind/body and music therapy center (Sound Health Studio) in New York City since 1990. He has a handful of chapters related to pain, trauma, and Gestalt in music therapy, one of which has been republished in the book The New York Institute for Gestalt Therapy in the 21st Century.
This experiential presentation includes insights from an international qualitative research project in psychology and practice interventions. It offers a creative and embodied experience involving indigenous wisdom, dance as an approach for well-being, and creative adjustments to stress, depression, loneliness, and the pandemic. It also raises awareness of dance and movement as the means to the increased presence in the here-and-now, self-expression, sensory experiences, body esteem, and community transformation.
In addition, the presentation explains how creative interventions rooted in embodiment and indigenous dance practices were developed and have shown positive effects on clients. It is also intended to share joy and engage in social criticism.
Natalia Braun, MSc, CCISM, spent over a decade in the corporate world prior to transitioning into psychology and counseling. She has been training in Gestalt therapy and expressive arts therapies since 2014 and earned her MSc in psychology from the University of Derby, UK. Natalia is multilingual and works with individuals from all over the world in her private practice in Switzerland. She is engaged in critical psychology, embodiment practices, and research projects around the topic of mental health. She has been a passionate dance practitioner for over 20 years, particularly in Cuban salsa, Afro-Cuban and African dances, Rueda de Casino, etc., and this experience informs and enriches her Gestalt practice. Along with dance, she has been engaged in other expressive arts like theater, playing piano and guitar, and writing poems. Natalia is also a long-standing journalist.
Please join us for a poetry reading by Seán Gaffney on the themes of body, mind, and spirit in the context of mortality. The selections will be drawn from his most recent suite of poems, Aspects of Ageing, published in 2020. The occasion will include an exchange with Michael Vincent Miller on the aesthetic basis of Gestalt therapy as well as community responses and discussion.
Seán Gaffney was born in 1942 in Dublin, Ireland. Irish by birth, culture, and conviction. Gestalt psychotherapist, clinical supervisor, and trainer in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Russia, the USA, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, and Spain. Senior Lecturer/Guest Professor, Cross-Cultural Management, in Sweden, Italy, Latvia, and Estonia. Author (see Google). Teenage poet who finally published in his 70s.
Michael Vincent Miller, PhD, is the current president of the New York Institute for Gestalt Therapy. He was trained by Frederick Perls, Erving and Miriam Polster, and Isadore From. He has been practicing, teaching, and writing about Gestalt therapy since 1973. Before that, he taught literature and poetry writing at Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His poems have been published in the Atlantic Monthly, Metamorphosis, and Occident. He is the author of numerous articles and four books: Intimate Terrorism: The Crisis of Love in an Age of Disillusion (Norton, 1996), which has been published in eight languages; La Poétique de la Gestalt-thérapie (l’Exprimerie, 2002); Teaching a Paranoid to Flirt (Gestalt Journal Press, 2011), a collection of his writings over 30 years on Gestalt therapy; and A Gestalt Therapy Testament (Casaperlarte, Milan, 2014), published in English and Italian. His next book on love and intimacy is almost finished.
“There is no higher principle than this: holding oneself open to the conversation.”
Gadamer’s quote stands in stark contrast to today’s political polarization as the defining feature of early 21st-century Western politics, both American and European. How we understand the other is a compelling question, whether this is on the geopolitical scale or an interpersonal one.
For Gadamer, conversation is the encounter out of which understanding can arise. I quote Gadamer: “We say we conduct a conversation, but the more genuine a conversation is, the less its conduct lies within the will of either partner. Rather, it is generally more correct to say we fall into conversation. No one knows in advance what will come out of a conversation.”
Play for Gadamer represents our fundamental relationship to the world. This is not something that happens in the mind of the subject, not a subjective act, but an activity that always goes on between the players and reaches beyond the behavior of any individual player. Play has a spirit that emerges from the players’ engagement in their to-and-fro rhythm. This echoes the field-emergent process of Gestalt therapy.
This presentation is a modest effort to lay some ground as to how we grapple with questions surrounding communication and understanding others whose ideas are different from our own. My focus will be primarily on the clinical setting, where we clinicians struggle to understand our clients, yet there are implications for the wider social and political field.
Carol Swanson has been a Gestalt therapist in private practice in Portland, Oregon, for over 40 years. She is the co-founder of the Portland Gestalt Therapy Training Institute and has trained therapists in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. Her current interest is studying phenomenology and other philosophical resources for clinical work.
Therapy has been an important part of her life along with cycling, hiking, skiing, kayaking, gardening, and cooking. When not in the Zoom room, you can find her doing one of the above activities.
Gestalt therapy is about authenticity, being in the present moment, and having the courage to take risks. These are the same things that are needed to use laughter as a therapeutic tool.
Laughter has been shown to increase T-cell production, improve brain function, and foster an overall sense of resilience. As a therapeutic tool, it has the power to help people heal from trauma faster and with more confidence.
This presentation will begin to show you the science behind what makes laughter an innovative tool to help people heal in a healthy and positive way, while remaining true to Gestalt theories and principles. Gestalt modalities will also be explored, showing how to make the most appropriate interventions for your clients.
1. Attendees will learn how laughter can benefit the immune system.
2. Attendees will identify the specific areas of the brain that are impacted by laughter and humor.
3. Attendees will learn skills and strategies that they can use to incorporate humor into their work immediately.
Michael Cotayo is a licensed clinical social worker who received his master’s degree in social work from NYU in 2000. A majority of his post-master’s career has been spent working within the HIV/AIDS community as a social worker, advocate, community organizer, counselor, and administrator. It is working with these communities where he learned the benefits of using humor to help heal physical and emotional trauma.
Michael is also the founder of Funny Shrink University, an online program that teaches healthcare providers how to incorporate humor into their work to achieve better outcomes. Funny Shrink University offers continuing education units and monthly webinars.
A few thoughts about some concepts that could help clarify the vocabulary of the therapeutic “relationship.”
I don’t like using the concept of “relationship.” Too wide, too vague. Of course, I know that a relationship can be healing, and I also know that every psychopathology has be created by relationship. So, step by step, I will try to explore some components of the therapeutic “relationship,” which could narrow our focus and contribute to unfolding and understanding what happens in this specific face to face. “Intimate” is an interesting concept because it belongs both to the innermost and to a special kind of very close way of being together. Perhaps “encounter” might be considered as an extension of our paradigm of “contact,” when contact rises and grows between two people. “Love” is often referred to, in our therapeutic context. Is it an appropriate reference? What about “tenderness,” which seems to better designate a therapeutic attitude that does not exclude confrontation or distance. A few tracks that need to be pursued…
Jean-Marie Robine has been a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist since 1967 and a Gestalt therapist since 1976. After more than 15 years as a psychologist, then a director, in a public health service for children, adolescents, and their families, he created in 1980 the Institut Français de Gestalt-thérapie (IFGT), the first Gestalt institute in France. To date, it has trained hundreds or maybe thousands of Gestalt therapists not only in France but also in Europe, Eastern Europe, Africa, the USA, and Latin America.
He was a co-creator of the Societé Française de Gestalt, then of Collège Européen de Gestalt-thérapie, national societies for Gestalt therapy, and the European Association for Gestalt Therapy. He was also the president of EAGT in the early 1990s.
In addition, Jean-Marie created the two French journals for Gestalt therapy and was their editor-in-chief for several years. Then he opened a nonprofit organization for publishing a series of Gestalt therapy books, l’Exprimerie, as a division of IFGT. More than 50 Gestalt therapy books, originals and translations, have been published, mostly in French but also some in English. He has authored or edited nine Gestalt therapy books, which have been translated into several languages. He is the co-editor and publisher of the last manuscript from Fritz Perls – with wonderful comments from several famous colleagues – already available in many languages, and also the editor of Self: A Polyphony of Contemporary Gestalt Therapists, published in many languages.
Now retired from heading IFGT, he remains the organizer and coordinator of its international programs, teaching mostly abroad some supervision groups, postgraduate programs, and training for supervisors and trainers, but also enjoys his (partial) retirement in the countryside near Bordeaux to grow his vegetables and fruit trees.
The understanding of bullying and workplace harassment is usually limited to one side, the victim or the other, the bully/perpetrator.
Only recently has the relationship itself been explored as central to the process of how aggression, harassment, and violence progress over time.
However, just separating or punishing any one of the parties involved, as is often the case, is inadequate to prevent both individuals from continuing their role with someone else.
Locating the relational interplay within a field of intersecting forces would add depth and understanding to the wider field. This would allow for greater awareness of the points at which the building aggression can be interrupted. Then the participants can be helped to understand the forces driving them and the relational engagement of the process.
Lee Zevy is one of the founders of Identity House, a walk-in peer counseling and psychotherapy community mental health center for the LGBTQIA community in New York City, which began in 1971. After completing her training at the New York Institute for Gestalt Therapy, where she is now a fellow, she became the clinical director of Identity House for many years and still does supervising and training there. In addition to becoming president of NYIGT twice, she teaches, supervises, writes, and publishes on the theory and practice of Gestalt therapy. Her current interest is how the fluidity of gender and sexuality today is moving to change the discourse of society around these topics.
The paper “Creating a Distinct ‘I’ and a Distinct ‘You’ in Contacting” by Philip Lichtenberg proposed an apparently simple model for describing relations, with an emphasis on how to relate in a contactful manner. The model was succinctly described as an algebraic combination of factors. This presentation aims at unfolding the power of this model as a clinically useful way of describing different types of interactions in couples. Several relationship dynamics are described in terms of agency and figure/ground formation. This provides a useful map for clinical intervention.
I work as a Gestalt therapist in Valencia, Spain. I was trained in Gestalt therapy by the Institut Français de Gestalt-Thérapie and, later, in developmental somatic psychotherapy by Ruella Frank. I’m a psychologist and musician. I have a Ph.D. in computer science.
Taking inspiration from how psychoanalysis was successfully applied to art and art theory, film, literature, literary studies, and cultural studies over the course of its history, in this presentation, I would like to explore how Gestalt therapy can be applied to works of art, including literature, music, film, drama, and cultural phenomena in general, be it in the experiencing and understanding of cultural phenomena like art or their creation. We will look at:
- How do we contact works of art?
- How do Gestalt therapy concepts like the cycle of contact, the different contact functions, awareness, field, etc., play out in our contacting art?
- Can we apply Gestalt concepts like figure and ground, polarities, and unfinished business to works of art and their form, content, and structure?
- What place might Gestalt experiments, dreamwork, and Gestalt “techniques” have in understanding art?
- How can the process of creating art and artistic creativity be understood from a Gestalt point of view?
- Can Gestalt therapy be applied to cultural (including social and political) phenomena in general, and how so?
Hilmar Schmiedl-Neuburg, PhD, is a philosopher and psychotherapist. He received his PhD in philosophy at the University of Kiel in Germany, and graduated as a Gestalt therapist from the four-year program of GSK Werkstatt Nord in Germany. He received additional training at other Gestalt institutes in Frankfurt and Cologne, and also trained in psychoanalysis. For over 10 years, he worked as a Gestalt therapist in part-time private practice and taught in the Philosophy Department of the University of Kiel. After his habilitation and visiting professorships in Hamburg, Prague, and Vienna, currently, he is a faculty member in the Philosophy Department at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Additionally, he serves as an Adjunct Lecturer for Humanistic and Existential Psychotherapy at the Medical School Hamburg. He is the director of the Institute for Philosophy, Psychoanalysis, and Cultural Studies in Berlin, and is on the faculty of the John-Rittmeister-Institute for Psychoanalysis in Kiel. His publications focus on continental philosophy as well as humanistic-existential and psychodynamic therapy.