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ALL PRESENTATIONS ARE WITHOUT CHARGE.
“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.
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.
Presenter: Yaël Lewin
Shapeshifter and protector, messenger and interrupter, the mask is an object/symbol/concept that we have been negotiating a relationship with for the past few years. While it has been perhaps most foreground for us during the pandemic, the mask has a rich history that spans many centuries and cultures and includes theatrical, social, political, spiritual, and medical uses. Adding a Gestalt therapy perspective helps to raise awareness of the intrapsychic and relational issues that emerge when a mask is worn – whether literally or figuratively.
In exploring this material together, we will have the opportunity to reflect upon its connection to ourselves and to our clients. Please bring a mask for some experiential work. (Halloween costumes are optional!)
The title refers to a poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar.
Yaël Lewin, MA, LP, BCPP, is a Gestalt therapist and dance historian. Her background includes over 30 years of somatic studies, plus a graduate degree in English and comparative literature that helps with obscure research if not income. She is the author of Night’s Dancer: The Life of Janet Collins (Wesleyan University Press). She hopes to go to Venice for Carnevale someday.
Presenter: Margherita Spagnuolo Lobb
I wish to present the concept of “The Psychopathology of the Situation” (also the title of a recent book that I have co-edited with Piero Cavaleri) and discuss it with colleagues of the Gestalt community. This concept is inspired by initial reflections by Jean-Marie Robine and the book by Georges Wollants, Gestalt Therapy: Therapy of the Situation. How can we describe psychopathology from the field perspective? How does our clinical work change if we use this perspective? Why is it good to use it, especially with post-traumatic experiences? Is it more useful than traditional clinical perspectives? The book is definitely part of the “relational movement” of Gestalt therapy and expresses clinical reflections of the Italian institute that I have chaired since 1979.
Far from aiming to make a point, this presentation intends to open a live discussion about how our clinical glance – especially on traumatic fields – can actually be developed in the perspective of the situation. I will try to stay with clinical examples as much as possible, avoiding becoming theoretically abstract.
Margherita Spagnuolo Lobb is the director of Istituto di Gestalt HCC Italy (Milan, Siracuse, Palermo). She has developed some basic clinical concepts of Gestalt therapy, like intentionality of contact, aesthetic presence, self as contact, and organism/environment field, in her book The Now-for-Next in Psychotherapy: Gestalt Therapy Recounted in Post-Modern Society. Integrating what she has learned from Isadore From with her experiences with Daniel Stern and other exponents of intersubjectivity and primary relationships, and with neuroscientists like Vittorio Gallese, she has approached the description of the ground experience of the self (the “polyphonic development of domains”), of the intuition of the therapist as a function of the field condition (the “aesthetic relational knowledge”), until her recent studies on “the dance of reciprocity” between therapist and client, as a switch of paradigm needed in our pandemic times.
More about her work: https://www.gestaltitaly.com/margherita-spagnuolo-lobb/
Presenter: Peter Philippson
Many people dedicate their lives to actualize a concept of what they should be like, rather than to actualize themselves. This difference between self-actualizing and self-image actualizing is very important… Where some people have a self, most people have a void, because they are so busy projecting themselves as this or that.
(Perls, 1969: 20, italics in original)
It might seem a strange question to ask, “Who is the client?” But inherent in the Gestalt approach is the idea that self and other are polar and co-emergent. This loses the idea of an objective client coming to see an objective therapist, each showing their “inner” selves to the other. Rather, we are together exploring this process of co-emergence.
We could even say that, for the client, coming to therapy is itself an act of self-alienation, bringing his or her incompetence to the therapist, who is seen as more competent at living. What the client shows to the therapist is not himself/herself in their fullness, but the familiar personality function, the self-image that has now become what Goodman calls “second nature.” For both client and therapist, self is the artist, not the image; the actor rather than the role. In facing the artist-client with the artist-therapist, new possibilities for actualization can form, often quickly.
I propose to elaborate on these themes, and then invite participants to bring experiences from their practice and their own therapy to discuss in relation to the theory presented.
Peter Philippson, MSc (Gestalt psychotherapy), is a UKCP registered Gestalt psychotherapist and trainer, a Teaching and Supervising Member of the Gestalt Psychotherapy & Training Institute UK, a founder member of Manchester Gestalt Centre, a Full Member of the New York Institute for Gestalt Therapy, a Senior Trainer for GiTa (Slovenia), a faculty member at IpsiG (Turin), an advisory board member for the Center for Somatic Studies, a founder member of IG-FEST, and a guest trainer for many training programs internationally. He has been working as a psychotherapist for 33 years. He is also a past president of the Association for the Advancement of Gestalt Therapy. Peter is the author of Self in Relation (Gestalt Journal Press), The Emergent Self (Karnac/UKCP), Gestalt Therapy: Roots and Branches (Karnac), and many chapters and articles. He is a teacher (4th dan) and student of traditional aikido.
Presenter: Christine Stevens
Basically, this workshop involves playing with clay! This is an experiential workshop involving hands-on experiments with clay and theory discussion. It combines embodied connections and interpersonal neurobiology with clinical application. Clay can offer back to us our way of being in the world. Haptic perception, through touch, is our earliest and most fundamental form of human experiencing. We come to understand about the world through our hands. Using clay within the Gestalt therapy relationship combines kinesthetic motor action with sensory perception and field sensitivities. It gives us access to non-verbal affect, materializing into awareness experience that is then therapeutically available.
Participants completing this workshop will be able to 1) integrate an informed understanding of the use of clay into their clinical practice; and 2) differentiate a distinctively Gestalt therapy theoretical approach to the use of clay from a phenomenological perspective.
Participants who would like the fully haptic experience should feel free to bring clay or a substitute. The most basic modeling material can be made with flour, salt, and water; a recipe will be sent out in advance.
Christine Stevens, PhD, is the editor of the British Gestalt Journal. She is a Gestalt therapist, supervisor, trainer, and writer. She is a member of EAGT, IAAGT, UKAGP, and GPTI. For 16 years, she was a faculty member for the doctorate in psychotherapy programs at Metanoia Institute, specializing in research methods. She is a visiting trainer to institutes in Slovenia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, and Poland as well as in the UK. She is the director of The Clay Studio, Nottingham, where she is involved in arts-based social engagement work with refugees. She is particularly interested in interdisciplinary collaboration and arts-based research in psychotherapy.
Presenter: Dan Bloom
Wars. COVID. Fires. Floods. Autocracies and hate. Our world is fractured. Our earth is ablaze. We find ourselves dispossessed from our own homes – exiles in a land that was once familiar to us. We are haunted by terrors of the visible and barely visible, the present and barely present, and the nightmares of an accelerated future that is too quickly imminent. We are dislocated – thrown out of our place, out of our time. Can contemporary Gestalt therapy respond to the cries of persons alive in this world?
Of course it can.
This presentation will describe a contemporary relational and post-dialogical Gestalt therapy that responds to our being in this “uncanny” world. I will present the life-world and the situation in terms of the exiled self, the other, the alien, and the responsivity of contacting as existential-phenomenological dimensions of our field-emergent self model.
With these conceptual constructs included in our clinical phenomenology, the process of contacting becomes the articulation of our being-in-the-world-with-others and our means to soften the fractures of our phenomenal world. This perspective facilitates our being available to the clinical suffering in our practices.
The presentation will begin with an outline of these ideas. It will follow with small and large group experiments and discussions that are intended to concretize these ideas in an embodied way. I will facilitate the presentation in terms of the group-as-a-whole.
Dan Bloom, JD, LCSW (www.danbloomnyc.com), is a psychotherapist, supervisor, clinical trainer, and writer in New York City. He studied with Laura Perls, Isadore From, and Richard Kitzler. Dan teaches at the New York Institute for Gestalt Therapy, and is guest and adjunct faculty at Gestalt therapy institutes worldwide. He has spoken and given workshops at many international conferences. He leads webinars in Gestalt therapy and phenomenology. He is a past president and a Fellow of NYIGT and a past president of IAAGT. He is a member of EAGT. Dan is a co-founder of the International Study Group on Field-Emergent Self and Therapy (www.ig-fest.org). He is an associate editor of the Gestalt Review, a book review editor of Quaderni di Gestalt, and a member of the Scientific Board of the Gestalt Therapy Book Series. Dan is widely published.
Presenter: Helena Kallner
Working as a psychotherapist requires the ability to judge how to act in relation to the uniqueness of each situation. How do we do this? In Gestalt therapy theory, we refer to this knowing as the aesthetic criterion, that which is felt and sensed in the unfolding dynamic of the therapeutic encounter. Sometimes this knowing is referred to as tacit knowing, or silent knowing – silent because it can be challenging, if even possible to fully verbalize. But sometimes silent as in silenced. Often this aspect of knowing is referred to as mere feelings, vague or mysterious and not as a core element of professional judgment that requires extensive practice, experience, and a theoretical foundation.
This experiential presentation will explore movement and kinesthetic resonance as an essential foundation of knowing. We will inquire into that which we know before we know it, and attend to how always-emerging body-to-body dynamics between therapists and clients inform therapeutic interventions. I will base this presentation on my PhD research, exploring a psychotherapist’s practical knowledge of working with movement in psychotherapy.
Helena Kallner, MA, MSc, UKCP registered psychotherapist, practices Gestalt psychotherapy in Stockholm. She is a senior teacher and supervisor of Developmental Somatic Psychotherapy™. She is currently a PhD student at Metanoia Institute/Middlesex University.
Presenter: Iris Fodor
More and more people worldwide are experiencing dislocation, trauma, and loss in these troubled times and they are telling their stories, writing about and sharing photos of their painful journeys. There appears to be a healing in these narratives and the process surrounding them – the showing, writing, and telling of the stories and letting others see, hear, know, and respond. Drawing on my own experiences in storytelling and memoir writing with people from diverse cultures undergoing stress, I will present some of the techniques honed from storytelling and memoir-writing workshops to foster experiential writing. In the experiential segment, I will introduce theme-based techniques to support our personal writing and tell our stories, and also discuss the use of storytelling and writing for Gestalt therapeutic work.
Iris Fodor, PhD, professor emerita, New York University, is a Gestalt therapist in New York City known for teaching as well as conducting workshops and writing about women’s issues, anxiety management, mindfulness, and integrating Gestalt and cognitive therapy. Iris is also a social activist and photographer whose projects have focused on digital storytelling with adolescents in India, South Africa, and Peru. Her recent work focuses on memoir, experiential writing, and life story.
Presenter: Michael Vincent Miller
The main themes I want to explore in this presentation are related to the importance of form-making in Gestalt therapy as a central principle in the thought of Paul Goodman and what his work continues to teach us. Goodman was a master maker of form. He applied his gift for shaping and reshaping experience and giving it expression in an astonishing number of different artistic, psychological, social, cultural, and political areas, from writing poetry and novels to writing utopian city planning, from his powerful social and political criticism to the radically innovative psychology he brought forth in his collaboration with Perls.
One of Goodman’s most important messages to us as Gestalt therapists is that experience is never merely given to anyone; it is always being made by the forms we give it. And in our ongoing forming of experience reside both the moral and aesthetic dimensions of the lives we live, from our intimacies to our politics. One could say that for Goodman, the moral and aesthetic were integrated, and in that integration resides the radical human-centered message that pervades everything he wrote and taught.
I hope we’ll have an opportunity to open and delve into this question of form in our thinking and practice, as well as to examine its place in Goodman’s work.
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, chapters, book reviews, and introductions to books, along with five books: Revolution at Berkeley (Delacorte, 1965); 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 on Gestalt therapy; and A Gestalt Therapy Testament (Casaperlarte, Milan, 2014), published in English and Italian. New expanded editions of the last book in English and French under the titles Paths of Curiosity and L’itinéraire d’un curieux will be published by l’Exprimerie in September 2022. Michael also wrote the introduction to the collection of Paul Goodman’s psychological writings, Nature Heals.