Volume 25, 1 (2016)

2016 V25.1-01.jpg
2016 V25.1-01.jpg

Volume 25, 1 (2016)


The British Gestalt Journal 2016, Volume 25, 1


Editorial - Christine Stevens

In memory of Kenneth Evans: a tribute - Maria Gilbert

Dialogue and experiment - Gary Yontef and Friedemann Schulz

Working with whole intelligence in organisation development and change: making meaning, creating context, increasing impact - Kiran Chitta

What do Gestalt therapists do in the clinic? The expert consensus - Madeleine Fogarty, Sunil Bhar, Stephen Theiler and Leanne O’Shea

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This year sees the publication of the 25th volume of the British Gestalt Journal. Around 285 articles have been published in this time, the work of over 200 different authors. Judging from the popularity of the digital downloads available from the website, many of these continue to be read and studied as avidly as ever. 

From time to time, editions of the Journal have had a special focus, and these have covered issues like shame, sexuality, brief therapy, organisational consultancy, research, embodiment, education and working with children and young people. Malcolm Parlett, in his first editorial, explained that the BGJ was started because there was a need for more of a written tradition in Gestalt therapy. Poignantly, he was writing just after the death of Laura Perls, to whom the first issue was dedicated. Setting out his rationale for the Journal, Malcolm wrote, . . . there is an urgent need for Gestaltists to describe and explain Gestalt in ways which do justice to it, and which show how solid is its foundation in existentialist and phenomenological thought, field theory, psychoanalysis, holism and gestalt psychology. We need to show connections between Gestalt theory and Gestalt practice, and build bridges to the rest of psychotherapy and other fields of applications. 

A glance back at the contents of a quarter of a century of back issues, now easily accessible on the website, reveals how closely the concerns of the Journal have followed this initial call. The key thinkers and writers of the post-founding generation of Gestalt therapy are represented here, often in original peer-reviewed, articles, which have then gone on to be developed into full- length books, or included in edited collections. In recent years, newer voices have found their place, and there has been a deliberate editorial policy to seek out and encourage the next generation of Gestalt practitioners and leaders to contribute through writing and publication. This applies not only to British authors but also internationally, and this is increasingly reflected in the published contents. 

There is certainly much for the Gestalt community to feel proud of and to celebrate in this 25th year of the BGJ. An international conference highlighting this is being organised by the United Kingdom Association for Gestalt Practitioners and will take place on 30 June– 2 July 2017. 

Turning to the contents of this issue, it can be seen to reflect the mix of interests set out in the Journal’s early agenda. In this twenty-fifth year of the Journal, it is appropriate to honour the work of Malcolm Parlett, who was the formative first editor of the BGJ until 2006. The interview with him gives, from his own perspective, an illuminating personal glimpse into the history of Gestalt in the UK, and an insight into the early days of the British Gestalt Journal. His recently published book Future Sense: Five Explorations of Whole Intelligence for a World That’s Waking Up brings together and develops many of the themes for which he is well-known in the Gestalt community, since he published his first article in 1991, ‘Reflections on Field Theory’ in the British Gestalt Journal (1:2). The book Five Senses is reviewed here in some depth by Sally Denham-Vaughan. Kiran Chitta, a new author, currently living in Singapore, explores in his article how Parlett’s concept of ‘whole intelligence’ might be applied within Chitta’s own field as an organisational change and development consultant. 

As promised in the last issue, we give space here to remember and honour the life of Ken Evans. He was one of Malcolm Parlett’s early trainees. Evans played a significant role in the development of Gestalt in the UK, not least in setting up the Sherwood Psychotherapy Training Institute in Nottingham, and later moving on to develop training in Scarborough, as well as being influential in the politics of psychotherapy at a national level. Latterly, living in France he has been better known in Continental Europe, establishing many training courses and having a huge effect on developments in the profession as well as in individual people’s lives. Maria Gilbert who, like Parlett, knew Ken Evans from when he was a trainee, and went on to be a co-author and fellow trainer with him, writes a warm and appreciative tribute setting out details of his achievements and contributions. Maggie Maronitis’s letter is a personal response, representative of many who knew and loved this remarkable colleague. 

In terms of theory and practice, we publish a significant paper co-authored by Gary Yontef and Friedemann Schulz. They discuss two ways of working – the dialogic method and experimental intervention, both of which have strong support within the Gestalt approach, but which are often juxtaposed as dichotomies. Yontef and Schulz examine the open-ended nature of behavioural experimentation, as opposed to it being goal-driven. They argue that Gestalt therapy integrates both relational and behavioural approaches in a way that is theoretically consistent. 

Madeleine Fogarty et al. are making an important original contribution to the research literature on Gestalt therapy by developing a fidelity scale which identifies key concepts in this modality and how therapists work with them. The aim is to be able to define what is distinctive about Gestalt therapy in practice. This would enable more accurate outcome and comparative studies to be carried out which would relate specifically to Gestalt therapy as a distinctive practice. Fogarty et al.’s research draws widely on respondents from the international Gestalt community, and the paper published in this issue sets out the method they used to develop this measurement. 

As usual the issue includes other letters and book reviews. A Norwegian reader, Birgitte Gjestvang writes a letter on large groups responding to a previous article by Adam Kincel. The other book reviews are a comparison by Sarah Paul of two works on the self-care of the therapist, and a response by Di Hodgson to a collection of interviews with senior female Gestalt therapists. The opinion piece in this issue is a personal account of one therapist’s life journey coming to terms with early introjections and the pervasive impact of childhood experiences. 

There are changes taking place within the Editorial team as we say goodbye to Katy Wakelin, one of our Assistant Editors who has worked on the BGJ for the past twelve years. She is a gifted editor with a sharp eye for detail and has supported and advised many authors and book reviewers over the years. Her work has been offered on a voluntary basis and we are deeply grateful for her professionalism and commitment. She continues to be a warmly valued colleague and we wish her every success in her future endeavours. 

A particular need we have in the BGJ production team is to widen our pool of peer reviewers. This is a very important part of the process of publishing original articles, ensuring the quality of the content and writing and maintaining relevance to the international readership. It is invaluable for authors who may not otherwise have the opportunity to receive formative feedback from their peers, and for the reviewers it forms part of their own professional development, and pro- vides them with an active role in the development of new writing in our field. In general peer reviewers will already be published authors, although they are some- times experienced clinicians with specialist knowledge. Please get in touch if you are able to contribute to the work of the BGJ and support the Gestalt community in this way. 

Christine Stevens

In his own voice

An interview with Malcolm Parlett - Christine Stevens

Letters to the Editor

Appreciating Ken Evans and honouring his loss - Maggie Maronitis 

Large groups, larger challenges. A response to Adam Kincel - Birgitte Gjestvang

Book reviews

Eros, interconnection and creating conditions for life to flourish.  A review of Future Sense by Malcolm Parlett - Sally Denham-Vaughan 

Who cares about self-care? A review of Self-Care for the Mental Health Practitioner by Alfred J Malinowski and Competence and Self-Care in Counselling and Psychotherapy by Gerrie Hughes - Sarah Paul

A woman’s perspective. A review of Catch the Message edited by Adriena Feckova and Jay Levin - Di Hodgson


Fear and the inner child. How we adopt fears in our early years and then spend our lives trying to deal with them  - Yaro Starak