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ALL PRESENTATIONS ARE WITHOUT CHARGE.
There is an existential unease, an anxiety closely related to doubt—doubt about our safety under the gaze or at the hands of another—in almost every encounter with someone else of our own species. It can range from meetings with strangers to relations with parents, from dealing with authority figures to lovers and spouses. This phenomenon often leads to defensive measures of psychological self-protection that can close off our capacities for curiosity and intimacy, for alliance and collaboration. In general, attempts to keep ourselves safe from the other can prevent us from being and expressing our full selves in relationships of all kinds.
Such issues seem endemic to the human condition and its developmental trajectory. True, fears appear and clashes occur between members of the same species among other animals. These tend to be rather well-defined so far as we can tell: territorial disputes, sexual rivalries, power and status struggles. But there is no evidence of anything so pervasive and far-reaching as the difficulties that arise between humans. Are they necessary and inevitable? Or have certain basic evolutionary survival instincts gone off the track in human societies? These are questions of importance to psychotherapy. To what extent can Gestalt therapy in particular, with its emphasis on the ratio between the security of self-support and the risk in contacting the next unknown, help people enter the world of relationships more fully?
My presentation involves revision, amplification, and a broadening of scope around themes I have been concerned with for a long time, although these had a more specialized focus in the past: namely, the difficulties in long-term intimate relationships as portrayed in my book of twenty years ago, Intimate Terrorism. Now I am taking up a wider focus that I hope will apply fruitfully to all our relationships, including that of therapist and patient.
Michael Vincent Miller, Ph.D. has practiced and taught Gestalt therapy for thirty-nine years, currently in New York City. His own training was chiefly with Fritz Perls, the Polsters, and for many years with Isadore From. After ten years of teaching at Stanford University and M.I.T., he co-founded the Boston Gestalt Institute, where he directed training. He has also trained psychotherapists in Gestalt therapy in a dozen countries. He was on the editorial board of the Gestalt Journal and was Consulting Editor to the International Gestalt Journal. Besides contributing numerous articles to many journals and magazines, he reviewed books on psychology and related areas for the New York Times Book Review from 1985 to 1994. He is the author of four books: Intimate Terrorism: The Crisis of love in an Age of Disillusion (Norton, 1996), which has been published in eight languages; La Poetique de la Gestalt-therapie (Exprimerie, 2002), which was published in France; Teaching a Paranoid to Flirt (Gestalt Journal Press, 2011), a collection of his writings over thirty years on Gestalt therapy; and A Gestalt Therapy Testament (Casaperlarte, Milan, 2014), published in English and Italian.
Gestalt therapy’s emphasis on process often deemphasizes narrative and story. As we grow older and need to come to terms with our life experience, losses and history, we become more preoccupied with our stories and their meaning. There is a tradition for a narrative approach to Gestalt therapy (E. Polster “Every person’s life is worth a novel”). Drawing on my own experience in memoir writing I will present some of the techniques honed from experiential memoir writing workshops. In the experiential segment we will use theme-based techniques to do some memoir writing about meaningful life experiences. We will read some of the writing in the group. I will also discuss how to integrate experiential writing into therapeutic work with clients.
Iris Fodor, Ph.D. is a Clinical Psychologist, Professor in the Department of Applied Psychology at New York University and a Gestalt therapist in New York City working with many clients in the arts. She received her certification in Gestalt Therapy from the Gestalt Therapy Institute of Los Angeles (GTILA) and has been an Associate Editor of Gestalt Review. She has done workshops and written about the integration of Gestalt and Cognitive Therapy, mindfulness and Gestalt Therapy, women’s body image and feminist therapy. Iris is also a photographer whose work has focused on digital storytelling and narrative process. Recent work focuses on memoir, experiential writing and life story.
The simplicity and beauty of gestalt therapy continues to inspire me. I love how it engages us in the creative process of shifting from inhibiting to inhabiting our bodies, and then, to a cohabitating which leads us into a collaborating. It is here that we bring a refreshed and refined emphasis on field theory and a deepening of our understanding of the intricate interweaving of all things.
We begin by stepping into the simplicity of slowing down, and perhaps, even pausing. We rest here in the bodily experience of the present moment, opening to our sensual wisdom. A plethora of sensations may lead us to a land of discovery as we awaken new ways of being.
We learn to stay faithful to the practice of attuning and attending to our moment-to-moment experiencing, and trusting what is so. We experiment with simple activities such as breathing, walking, sitting, etc. The eloquence of simplicity offers the potential to ignite our interest, and requests our presence in the lingering with the experience long enough to inhabit it more fully. Slowly, step by breath, simply and boldly, we grow more deeply into ourselves.
A co-emergent, collaborative spirit invites us to shift into an embodied, relational mindfulness. The simple activity becomes a relational practice. We bring an intentional awareness to developing a partnership with everything – allowing deep respect for the sacred presence of air we breathe, the earth we walk on, the chair we sit on and so on. We explore the sumptuous dance of giving and taking, of offering and receiving while deepening into its extraordinary complexity as well as its simplicity. Our openness to otherness blossoms into an alive meeting. In this mutually engaged process, we cultivate the potential for residing in the world and all our moments in a deeply intimate way. Here we are offered the creative possibility of waking up to a sense of mutual belonging and our common humanity.
We arrive at living our lives deeply rooted, from moment-to-moment and from day-to-day, as if our lives really mattered-as if we really matter. We show up intentionally, fulfilling the calling forth of a sensually alive and embodied presence.
The nature of this basic, simple work – utterly familiar yet strangely new at the same time – continues to transform into advanced and profound depths of possibility.
Gail Feinstein, LCSW is proud to be a member of the New York Institute for Gestalt Therapy for over 37 years. She is honored and privileged to have been mentored by Laura Perls and Richard Kitzler. She trains internationally and currently practices in New York City and the Catskill Mountains where she supervises, leads groups and retreats. Gail is immediate past president of the Association for the Advancement of Gestalt Therapy – An International Community. She is committed to grounding her work in a co-creative, collaborative process, coming fresh to each moment and weaving the values of deep relatedness into the world.
Colleagues often speak to me about the ways cellphones are having an impact on our work as therapists. How do we work with the beeps, buzzes and flashing screens that our clients’, and our own, cellphones emit during sessions? How do clients express their attachment to their cellphones? How are communications between therapist and client shaped by use of cellphones? Outside of session, how do cellphones promote or interrupt contact in clients’ relationships? How do we and our clients interact in our communities?
In this workshop we will explore these and other questions through the lens of Gestalt therapy theory and practice. Relevant neuroscience and attachment theory will also be included.
This workshop takes up the emergent need to acknowledge and understand cellular phone presence in gestalt therapy sessions and in our clients’ lives. We will heighten awareness of cellphones in the phenomenological field and seek to clarify how we are encountering the novel in this paradigm shift in our professional lives and society. A short presentation on the topic will be followed by interactive and experiential small group activity, with whole group processing as well.
New therapists, who naturally integrate cell phones as part of their work, as well as seasoned therapists whose habits of working and communicating have not heretofore included cellphones are welcome at this workshop.
Participants are encouraged to bring their cellphones with them to this workshop.
Adam Weitz, LCSW is a graduate of NYU Silver School of Social Work. He is an associate member of The New York Institute for Gestalt Therapy and The Association for the Advancement of Gestalt Therapy.
Adam presented You, Me and Our Cellphones at the AAGT Northeast Regional Conference in June, 2015, and as guest faculty at The Gestalt Center in New York City in 2014. He presented on Early Infant Relational Development at Empire State College in 2005. After 5 years working as a staff therapist at The Blanton Peale Institute and Counseling Center, Adam began working exclusively in private practice in 2013. Adam is a supervising therapist at Identity House, a New York City based, non-profit organization serving LGBTQ community mental health needs on a volunteer basis.
This workshop is inspired by his realization through observation and conversations with colleagues that technology is altering our social landscape in ways that need to be explored.
OCD is one of the most complicated constellations to treat. Every approach (CBT, psychodynamic psychotherapy, attachment theory) offers bits of wisdom in understanding this “disorder”, but clients remain deeply distressed and none have looked at the OCD experience through a phenomenological, somatic and relational lens.
In this didactic and experiential workshop, we will deepen our understanding and feel for the developmental and symbolic nature of the OCD experience, its connection to separation anxiety and how a somatic relational approach adds a critical missing piece to these other treatment models and sometimes reconfigures them.
Stacey Klein, LCSW is a psychotherapist in private practice in Manhattan. She specializes in treating anxiety, phobias, panic and ocd in children and adults offering a holistic integration of gestalt, developmental somatic, cognitive behavioral, and psychodynamic therapies that she synthesizes with eastern and western spiritual traditions. Stacey previously worked at Mount Sinai Medical Center for 11 years, most recently in the OCD and Related Disorders programs where she was trained in cognitive behavioral therapy. She has presented at Barnard College, The Gestalt Associates for Psychotherapy, The Trichotillomania Learning Center, The Psychotherapy and Spirituality Institute and most recently at the AAGT conference in Asilomar 2014 on new approaches to treating OCD. She runs workshops for clinicians, yoga practitioners, private schools and the public on embodied living.
This workshop will help to demystify the borderline diagnosis, and help the therapists to normalize their concerns, and to engage clients effectively with the tools that they already have in their toolbox. Participants will also be able to identify the wound that the client has, and work from that place. Particular attention will be paid to how grounding can help to center, and chair-work can help to externalize the traumas. A mixture of didactic and experiential work will help to ground the participants in the work. Workshop participants are encouraged to bring case examples to discuss their struggles.
Michael Brennan-Cotayo, LCSW-R is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who received a Master’s in Social Work from New York University in 2000 and is a graduate of the Gestalt Center. The 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. Through his work with this population he has learned to hone his skills in working with Axis II disorders, learning to normalize their experience, working from a very centered and grounded place.
Boal’s RoD is a social theater methodology designed to replay conflict situations that we have in our everyday lives in order to seek awareness and reconciliation. The process involves group work at different levels of involvement. RoD can be used for (clinical) supervision of cases as well.
The workshop starts with some warming up and a subsequent process of collective generation of personal situations of confusion or conflict. Later the conflict is performed. Participants can act out different roles including those of the emotions. This process becomes like an emotional X-ray of the conflict that helps reach awareness. In some cases, resonances or cathartic sensations can appear.
Emotions that prevent us from acting toward our true goals become the so called “cop in the head” according to Boal.
I was told by a Mayan horoscope reader that my aim in life is to do whatever I wanted. I took this seriously, but my jobs and activities did not always lead to meaningful paths.
My studies and first work placements were exciting. They entailed travelling and doing different jobs in both the private sector and with NGOs. In a summer camp near the Catskills I learned skills to lead teams of youngsters. Later, I experienced Indonesia with its culture of respect and the importance of the “other” as a mirror. There, I also played Dostoyevky’s Idiot at the Russian Cultural Center, which led to a major pivotal change in my path.
Studies and trainings
Back in Spain I took drama training and began to attend humanistic therapy groups as I sensed that I needed a more stable ground and move towards a meaningful resonant stage. While my social involvement increased, drama allowed me to laugh at myself and remove some of the emotional weight I carried. I learned about Gestalt Therapy while I was studying an MA in Emotional Intelligence and it contributed to my search for my inner truths while shedding light on some of my shadows
I am currently involved in counseling, peace work and emotional education training, including RoD’s workshop in Mexico and in Senegal. Since 2013, within the EAGT, I have coordinated a project to support peace activists. As a founding member of an NGO we use creative art as a means of personal and social positive transformation. The path of meditation has inspired my life too.
Gestalt Therapy’s Embodied Styles is a workshop which is both participatory and didactic. It is drawn from my article of the same name which appeared in 2015 in the British Gestalt Journal, and simultaneously in German in the journal GESTATTHERAPIE. In the workshop we will look at five ways of attending to body experience as an integrated aspect of Gestalt therapy theory and practice. Gestalt therapy practitioners have devised dozens of ways of including attention to body experience in their practices. These ways are both overlapping and descriptively individual. How do they differ’ How do we choose which approach to utilize in session’ How may we Gestalt therapists train to use these practices in our work and in our lives’ These are some of the questions we will address in the workshop.
Susan Gregory has been a Gestalt therapist in private practice in New York City for twenty-five years. She has published four book chapters and more than twenty peer reviewed articles. She was president of NYIGT in 2007-2009. Susan offers supervision in person and via Skype. She has been guest faculty at institutes in England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Brazil. In November, 2015 Susan and fellow NYIGT member Peter Philippson co-taught the British Gestalt Journal’s annual Seminar Day in London, attended by over 100 therapists and trainees. You may contact Susan at GestaltSing@aol.com.