Yesterday, I saw my first crocus. Hints of possibilites -- especially for a gardener. And, March can be a tough month. And it hints of possibilities. Does that sound like resistance? What is resistance? How can we work with it? I struggle with it. Its relationship to integrity and wholeness is the subject of the piece below.
AAGT, the International Association for the Advancement of Gestalt Therapy, meets in early June in Philly - not that far away. I've highlighted a couple of sessions that piqued my interest. I hope you look at the whole program and consider attending.
Under Quick Links: I've also included a YouTube link to a clip of Erv Polster: Psychotherapy with the Unmotivated Patient.
Check it out. Also, check out how Gestalt therapy is described in a new book on psychotherapies.
And finally, there's information about the ongoing Consultation & Study Group and the next Intro Workshop in April. Watch also for a Level Two Gestalt workshop coming in July.
Marilyn Lammert, ScD, LCSW
Psychotherapist/Clinical Social Worker
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|Integrity, Resistance, and Wholeness
I wrote a few newsletters back about wholeness - appreciating the client as a unified whole. Resistance is an indispensable aspect of that whole.
My client, Tom, came in complaining and angry about having to tend to his elderly mother, who is still in her home but deteriorating. He is an only child, father dead, no close relatives - and his relationship with his mother has never been positive. He doesn't want to take care of her. But he is taking care of her, and he experiences it as completely against what he wants.
I might have pointed out to him that inside all of that complaining and anger he loves his mother, but I didn't. That's not his experience.
A commonly accepted concept of resistance is that people are motivated by what they're not aware of, so what we see is a disguise for what's really going on.
If I embraced this idea, I couldn't take what he's saying very seriously. In a certain sense, I wouldn't take his complaints as valid.
Instead, my aim is to "feel into" what he's feeling and to heighten his awareness of his experience with his mother.
So I suggest we write down what he's feeling, all of his complaints, all of what he's angry about.
He dictates and I write on an easel pad.
They are all negative statements:
"I don't want to deal with this at all." "I don't want to take any responsibility."
"I don't want to have anything to do with my mother." And there were others.
Now that we can see these, I ask him to make some statements about what he does want.
So: "I want to be free from guilt." "I want to be comfortable with my motives."
"I want my mother to be comfortable." "I want her to have as much autonomy as possible."
The first statements, the "resistant" behavior, are not irrational. This is behavior that served a good purpose at some point. This behavior was a way for him to have his integrity. Staying in the negative is what it cost to do that.
I also see that it is creative on his part, it's not just a disguise. When I hear his voice in these statements, I can feel the creative energy.
How can we as therapists use this concept of resistance without invalidating our client's experience?
We can change our focus from what resistance represents to where it can take us.
Like the sculptor pursuing the statue emerging from the block of marble, we are respectful of the integrity of the block of marble, the person. It's the difference between a detective system and a creative system.
We can use the words "struggle" or "oppose" rather than "resistance." Joining the person in his experience helps him stay with his own struggle.
In a detective system if I deny my client's reality, then we may struggle with each other.
In a creative system, I join the so-called resistance and as my client experiences the opposing aspects, or in this case opposing statements together, something new is formed.
Erv Polster (see him in a Youtube link on the left) likens it to music-point, counterpoint-opposing tones, together a new composition.
I don't want to favor one set of statements over the other, one as real or more valid, the other not--I hear all the voices/statements/parts simultaneously-that's the aim of wholeness.
|Four Pathways to Connectedness: A Therapeutic Map / Erving Polster
Dr. Polster will show how the concept of connectedness may serve as a bridge between wholeness and individuation. People feel whole when their experiences all fit together; that is, when they integrate present life with what preceded it, when they concentrate undistractedly on what they are doing, when they enjoy a sense of belonging, etc. Still, experiences are also individuated, each meriting simple focus on itself, irrespective of where it may fit into anybody's life. In examining this key human aspiration, he will specify four pathways along which lost connectedness may be therapeutically restored:
- person to person, enhancing relational experience and belonging;
- moment to moment, restoring continuity and fluidity;
- event to event, recovering life's storyline and 4) part of one's self to other parts of one's self, integrating the self.
Erving Polster, PhD, is co-author, with his late wife, Miriam, of Gestalt Therapy Integrated. He has also authored Every Person's Life Is Worth a Novel, portraying the kinship between the novelist and the therapist, and A Population of Selves, an examination of the diversity within each person. He co-authored From the Radical Center, tracing the evolution of ideas which he and Miriam have presented over a 45 year period in their lectures, papers and anthology pieces. He has recently also authored Uncommon Ground, a proposal for transforming private psychotherapy into a life-long communal experience.
|Conference and Presentation Descriptions
Lynne Jacobs, PhD lives in two psychotherapy worlds. She teaches and trains gestalt therapists world-wide. She is co-founder of the Pacific Gestalt Institute and also a training and supervising analyst at the Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis. She is co-author (with Rich Hycner), of The Healing Relationship in Gestalt Therapy: A Dialogic / Self Psychology Approach. She has also written numerous articles for gestalt therapists and psychoanalytic therapists. She is also interested in anti-racism work, and to this end, aside from her article, "For Whites Only," has given several presentations to white and mixed-race audiences on the phenomenon of, and implications of, central social location (which she will explain in her workshop). She has a private practice in Los Angeles.
How to Teach Intersubjectivity
My contribution presents my dialogical teaching since 2001 at the department of Social Work at the University of Applied Sciences Bielefeld. I describe my approach to teaching "intersubjectivity" to students of social work and my practice with it with reference to Martin Buber's anthropology of the "interhuman". Part of this learning programme consists of implementing "groups of dialogue" in order to facilitate the skill of becoming aware of "otherness" and oneself. My teaching challenges in that it invites people to develop an awareness of the "interhuman" as a living concept of intersubjectivity for the sake of openness to human growth.
Cornelia Muth is a Professor Dr habil (=Habilitation) of Humanities at University of Applied Sciences in Bielefeld. At the moment she is in research on prevention in social work and adult education. She is an Educational Gestaltist. Before her tenured position she worked in the fields of youth work, intercultural and political education. She was head of the International office of the University of Applied Economics in Berlin and teaching assistant at the Freie Universität Berlin.
Is Mindfulness Just Gestalt Therapy by a Different Name?
Eva Gold, Moderator; Brian Arnell, Victor Daniels, Iris Fodor, and Steve Zahm
Buddhist psychology concepts and methods have generated great interest among psychotherapists in recent years. Practitioners from varied orientations are embracing the importance of awareness, a focus on the present moment, and the power of acceptance of what is. 'New' approaches have been developed incorporating these and other aspects of mindfulness--which of course have been cornerstones of Gestalt therapy theory and method since its inception. Where/how do mindfulness and Gestalt therapy intersect? Where do they diverge? Panel members will offer their perspectives for consideration and discussion.
Eva Gold, PsyD, is a clinical psychologist in private practice since 1978. She works with individuals and couples, and provides clinical consultation and supervision. She is co-founder and training director of Gestalt Therapy Training Center-Northwest, in Portland, Oregon, and is on the adjunct faculty at Pacific University, School of Professional Psychology where she teaches Gestalt therapy. She has written extensively, and trained/presented nationally and internationally on a variety of topics, including Buddhist psychology and Gestalt therapy. Her current passion is the intersection of these two approaches. She has been a vipassana meditation practitioner, and a student of Buddhist psychology for many years.
Brian Arnell, after exploring Eastern religions for years, formally took Refuge in the Kagyu linage of Tibetan Buddism in 1984. In 1998, he moved full-time to a retreat center in New York and began intensive practice in the Theravadan tradition of Mindfulness meditation. To pass on what he has learned and experienced, he left the retreat center and moved to Philadelphia in 2006. He has intensively studied buddhist psychology, and trained in Gestalt therapy theory at the Gestalt Therapy Institute of Philadelphia. He practices and teaches in Philadelphia, and at meditation retreats, and offers counseling to individual clients and groups.
Victor Daniels holds a PhD in psychology from UCLA and has taught for 40 years at Sonoma State University, where he also served as Psychology Department Chair. He has trained with over 20 Gestalt elders, has been a Gestalt therapy practitioner for 35 years, and has presented in both English and Spanish at Gestalt conferences. He was program chair for the Amsterdam and Vancouver AAGT conferences. He has contributed numerous articles to the online journal Gestalt!, and co-authored, with Jungkyu Kim, the chapter "Experimental Freedom" in the 2008 Handbook for Theory, Research, and Practice in Gestalt Therapy.
Iris Fodor, PhD is a Professor in the Department of Applied Psychology at New York University and a psychotherapist in New York City. She has written about the integration of Gestalt and Cognitive Therapy, anxiety disorders, women's body image and feminist therapy. Recent work focuses on mindfulness and Gestalt Therapy.
Steve Zahm, PhD is a clinical psychologist in private practice since 1972, working with individuals and couples and providing clinical consultation and supervision. He is co-founder and co-director of Gestalt Therapy Training Center-Northwest in Portland, Oregon, and a professor at Pacific University, School of Professional Psychology, where he teaches Gestalt therapy, couples therapy and group therapy. He has been committed to bringing Gestalt therapy into academic settings for over thirty years, and has written extensively, and trained/presented nationally and internationally on many topics including Buddhist psychology and Gestalt therapy. He has been a vipassana meditation practitioner for many years.
Working with Children and Adolescents
Jon Blend, Moderator; Ruella Frank, Neil Harris, Mark McConville, Bronagh Starrs, and Denise Tervo
Within the last thirty years a new specialist knowledge and skills base has arisen within Gestalt Therapy. Today's focus is on understanding developmental processes and the experience, needs and wants of infants, children and adolescents. We may draw on ideas from Attachment and Systemic theories together with research from neuroscience. Unlike adults, young persons grow up within a family field which mediates their experience and affects their freedom to act. Thus when a young person encounters difficulties this raises important questions: who is the client and what approach is best suited: dyadic work with mother and child? Individual child/ adolescent sessions? or therapy involving the family network? Our panellists, all of whom are well known in their particular 'field', offer views on contempory conundrums, challenges and changes they face in their working practice.
Jon Blend MA, CQSW is a (UKCP registered) psychotherapist, counselor, supervisor and trainer. He is also a non-executive Director at the Gestalt Centre, London. Jon has extensive experience of working with young persons and families in the UK, in social work and NHS mental health services and in private practice. Jon is also a musician who performs with a local band and with a Playback Theatre Company. He has developed a keen interest in "Communicative Musicality" (Trevarthen, 2009) and is currently undertaking further training in Music Therapy.
Ruella Frank, PhD, is founder and director of the Center for Somatic Studies, faculty at Gestalt Associates for Psychotherapy and the New York Institute for Gestalt Therapy, and also teaches throughout the United States, Mexico and Europe. She is author of articles and chapters in various publications, as well as the book Body of Awareness: A Somatic and Developmental Approach to Psychotherapy, available in four languages.
Neil Harris is a Gestalt psychotherapist who also works as a child and adolescent psychiatrist. And he is a child psychiatrist whose work is permeated with, and orientated by, his training and experience as a Gestalt therapist. He works with patients and clients of all ages, individually and with their families. He has a particular interest in the therapeutic applications of attachment theory. A key area of his work is with adopted and fostered children who have histories of serious trauma and loss.
Mark McConville, PhD is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Cleveland, Ohio specializing in adolescent and family psychology. He is the author of Adolescence: Psychotherapy and the Emergent Self, and co-editor of The Heart of Development: Gestalt Approaches to Working with Children, Adolescents, and Their Worlds, Vols. I & II. Mark is a senior faculty member of the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland, where he developed and co-chairs its child and adolescent training program, and teaches internationally. He is currently completing a book for parents on the failure-to-launch syndrome of emerging adulthood.
Bronagh Starrs is an accredited psychotherapist and trainer who maintains a clinical practice in Omagh, Northern Ireland. She specializes in working with children, adolescents and their families, and with people who are coming to terms with the legacy of 'The Troubles' in their lives. Bronagh has a particular interest in tracking the impact of psychological trauma through childhood and adolescence and how this trauma can continue to impact the adult self. She has authored various articles on the subject and works from a Gestalt relational perspective.
Denise Tervo, PhD is a licensed psychologist, supervisor and trainer in private practice in Pittsburgh, Pa. She has worked with children, adults and families for over thirty years. Denise is a Faculty member of the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland and the Gestalt Institute of Pittsburgh. She teaches the Child Play Therapy and Child Psychotherapy graduate course at Duquesne University. Her publications include "Physical Process with Children and Adolescents" in The Heart of Development (2002) and "Zig Zag Flop and Roll: Creating an Embodied Field for Healing and Awareness when Working with Children", British Gestalt Journal (2007). Denise integrates body process and energy awareness in her clinical work.
Tuning In and Tuning Out: Exploring Contact and Withdrawal through Music- Making in Gestalt Therapy
This part practical, part didactic workshop brings together ideas from contemporary neuroscience, music theory and intersubjectivity. Our initial focus will be on the nature and significance of music making as a dialogic communication, from evolutionary and developmental perspectives. We will briefly consider some links between music and emotion including the role played by rhythm in highlighting or underscoring affect. After 'warming up' our bodies and voices, the group will explore communicating via improvised music -making using some ideas from Gestaltist Violet Oaklander followed by drummer John Stevens' unusual 'Click' and 'Sustain' excercises. Case vignettes illustrate how such experiments can offer a useful adjunct to therapy with individuals or families. We will conclude with questions and answers. Note: No prior musical experience or skill required!
Jon Blend MA, CQSW is a (UKCP registered) psychotherapist, counsellor, supervisor and trainer. He is also a non-executive Director at the Gestalt Centre, London. Jon has extensive experience of working with young persons and families in the UK, in social work and NHS mental health services and in private practice. Jon is also a musician who performs with a local band and with a Playback Theatre Company. He has developed a keen interest in "Communicative Musicality" (Trevarthen, 2009) and is currently undertaking further training in Music Therapy.
Gestalt Therapy in Community Mental Health: Expanding the Boundaries of Gestalt Practice
Learn to apply Gestalt therapy with those most debilitated by mental illness: people seeking treatment at community mental health centers. An average day for a community mental health counselor might consist of sessions with clients suffering from borderline processes, developmental disabilities, unmedicated schizophrenia and PTSD - all before lunch. Drawing upon our experience, we will show through lecture and demonstration how Gestalt concepts of figure formation/destruction, contact, process, phenomenology and creative adjustment are effective in working with people suffering from chronic, disabling mental illnesses. We will explore Gestalt theory in its application with delusions, borderline processes and hallucinations related to schizophrenia. The workshop will include discussion on how you can increase the presence of Gestalt therapy in your local community mental health centers.
Sean Coyle, MA, LMHC is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Washington State as well as a Licensed Professional Counselor in Oregon. He has a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology from Lewis & Clark College. He has worked for the past six years at Community Services Northwest, a community mental health agency in Vancouver, Washington. Mr. Coyle is currently the Clinical Supervisor of the Wellness Project, a free mental health clinic run by Community Services Northwest. Previous to his master's studies, Mr. Coyle was a social worker for 12 years in settings serving the homeless, refugees and HIV/AIDS patients. Mr. Coyle has completed nine years of Gestalt training and is currently enrolled in advanced training at the Gestalt Therapy Training Center Northwest in Portland, Oregon.
Adrienne Newman, MA, LPC began working with people suffering from severe persistent mental illness in the early 1990's. After completing her BA in psychology, she worked as a counselor in homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters, and on rape and domestic violence hotlines. Since receiving her MA in Counseling in 2001, and advanced training in Gestalt therapy through the Gestalt Therapy Training Center Northwest, she has worked predominately with low socioeconomic individuals suffering from mental illness. Adrienne has been a therapist in community mental health agencies and is currently employed as a therapist with the Oregon Department of Corrections in a women's prison.
Gestalt Therapy in 2010 Book: Becoming an Effective Psychotherapist
Truscott, Derek. (2010). Becoming an effective psychotherapist: Adopting a theory of psychotherapy that's right for you and your client. (pp. 83-96). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association. xvii, 214 pp.
Gestalt therapy takes as its centerpiece the idea that the human condition is a unified whole different from the sum of its parts. Distress arises when we withdraw from awareness of our experience of body, self, and environment. If we focus on our experiential present moment, our innate homeostatic tendency toward health is activated. Gestalt therapy therefore focuses on the here and now of living in session and has as its goal awareness of the contact between our physical bodies, our environment, and our selves. Change is accepted as paradoxical in that the more one tries to be who one is not, the more one stays the same. By focusing on what is happening in the moment, change occurs spontaneously and without effort. Change is facilitated through the use of experiments individually tailored to facilitate awareness. In order to improve in this manner, the gestalt therapist must be active, assertive, engaged, confident, and creative in session and in relation to the client. Currently, gestalt therapy is enjoying a resurgence in popularity in the form of process-experiential, body-oriented, and mindfulness-based therapies. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2009 APA, all rights reserved)
|Ongoing Gestalt Consultation & Study Group
What Participants Say:
"By combining your words, your still presence, a sense of no-judgment, and experiential work you make it possible to really take in the concepts. I find I am using the techniques almost unconsciously and that the underlying principles are often available to my interactions with clients..." BM
"The actual experiencing is helpful to my ability to process as concepts are newer to me." MP
Regular monthly, 2nd Monday 10:30AM - 12:30PM
LGSW Supervision available
Cat. 1 CEU's (Social Work)
It's my belief and experience that often we have the wisdom we need, but don't always have direct access to it. My goal for these sessions is to help you access your wisdom by way of some new tools and ways to conceptualize from Gestalt therapy.
The focus of each session is on you and practice situations you'd like to learn more about. A few key Gestalt concepts are highlighted each time experientially and in discussion. (You'll have a brief article before each session related to these concepts.)
We'll consistently pay close attention to direct experience, awareness, contact between therapist and client, and the use of experiments.
You'll have opportunities to practice new ways as you choose to do so.
I love this work - and being engaged with like-minded therapists in learning together. I hope you'll consider joining us.
Click here to register, and receive 3 Gestalt articles.
Introductory Gestalt Workshop
"Great use of lecture & experiential." - SM
This 3-hour relationally-oriented Gestalt workshop will enhance your clinical skills. Whether you are seeking to further your Gestalt experience, want greater freedom and creativity to engage with your clients, or want to integrate gestalt concepts into your current practice, this workshop will enhance your clinical practice. Basic Gestalt concepts and methods will be discussed as well as a live Gestalt therapy session demonstration.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
2:00PM - 5:00PM
5117 Manning Drive in Bethesda
Click here for more information and to register.
3 Cat. 1 CEU's (Social Work)
Marilyn Lammert has practiced psychotherapy in the Washington, DC area for 30 years. She received her Master's in Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis, her Doctor of Science from Johns Hopkins University, and has a postgraduate diploma in Gestalt Therapy from the Gestalt Training Center of San Diego where she studied with Erv and Miriam Polster. In addition to her work as a clinician, Dr. Lammert has taught in graduate Social Work programs at Washington University, the University of Maryland and Catholic University.