We started life in the home of one of our founders – Ursula Faussett, who with Peggy Sherno and Judith Leary-Tanner, formed The Gestalt Centre in 1980, as the first UK training programme for gestalt psychotherapists. We outgrew her house fairly soon and moved to a room in the East-West Centre, which occupied, then as now, an old Victorian School on Old Street in Shoreditch. We have remained centrally located in London, in Shoreditch through our subsequent moves leading to our present home in Clifton Street.
Our primary purpose throughout the near 35 years since we began has always been the provision of high quality, rigorous and accessible training in gestalt practice. We started with our psychotherapy training programme, and then, from September 1993, we added our Diploma in Counselling.
It is our belief that the aware experience of group process is essential to support the self- awareness and resilience required of the practice of psychotherapy and counselling, and our trainings include a continuing element of experience of and training in group process, including the annual 5 day residential large group experience. This is particularly important for the development of experience and understanding of diversity. Our psychotherapy practitioner diploma is awarded in group as well as individual practice.
Our counselling diploma is BACP accredited and our psychotherapy training programme is UKCP accredited and also academically validated by London Metropolitan University.
Today we also offer a range of personal and professional development short courses in addition to our main professional training programmes. These include termly and weekend Personal Development Groups, a programme of Gestalt in Organisational Development workshops, a Certificate in Groupwork, a Diploma in Supervision, an Introduction to Motivational Interviewing and creative workshops; The Creative Self and Free Fall Writing as Creative Therapy.
As we have expanded, we have been able to develop a referral service, including a Low Cost psychotherapy service delivered by our senior psychotherapy trainees. We hire consulting rooms to a range of practitioners – gestalt psychotherapists and counsellors, from our and other trainings, therapists from other modalities and complementary practitioners - as well as training and conference space to local and national businesses and charities looking for affordable space to host their events in London. All this goes to create a varied and interesting life for the Centre and its staff.
Over the years, our structure has changed: from a partnership in 1980 we are now a registered charity. Our faculty are all senior, experienced practitioners who continue to practice as psychotherapists or counsellors while teaching part-time for the Centre. They include our directors: Michael Ellis (Managing Director) and Toni Gilligan, (Head of the Psychotherapy training). Sandra Paul leads the Counselling faculty team. Visiting faculty and non-executive directors/advisors include Jane Puddy, Gaie Houston and Carl Hodges.