Volume 25, 2 (2016)

2016 V25.2-01.jpg
2016 V25.2-01.jpg

Volume 25, 2 (2016)


The British Gestalt Journal 2016, Volume 25, 2


Editorial - Christine Stevens

Taking another turn - Frank-M. Staemmler

Moving towards more supportive fields - Sally Denham-Vaughan and Michael Clark

A reading of Gestalt Therapy (PHG) - Rob Farrands

Homophobia endures - Billy Desmond

Bringing Gestalt to cyber security - Maggie Marriott


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I am happy to report in this second issue of BGJ volume 25 that Gestalt writing is thriving! We are receiving a number of excellent submissions from both new and experienced authors, including non-English speakers. A big thank you to our readers in the Gestalt community who contribute to this work through peer reviewing or action editing. 

I would like to draw your attention to the student essay prize, now in its third year. We are delighted to publish last year’s winning entry in this issue. ‘Bringing Gestalt to cyber security’ is a fascinating and original case study in which Maggie Marriott discusses her work as a Gestalt organisational consultant working in a UK government department. See the announcement in the advert section at the end for details of how to enter for this year’s student essay competition, and note that this is not limited to trainees from the UK. 

We publish a seminal paper by Frank Staemmler, which although longer than our usual article length, we decided to include it here in full because it enables the reader to follow the whole arc of his thinking as he outlines the importance of what he calls ‘strong relationality’. He gives a valuable historical perspective on developments in theoretical thinking about the self in psychotherapy. He argues for a radical re-visioning which makes the relational matrix the primordial experience, challenging the remnants of individualistic thinking, which he argues are still prevalent in Gestalt practice. 

So often when we come to compile an issue, common themes emerge from the papers sent in. This is the case with the article by Sally Denham-Vaughan and Michael Clark, which should be read in conjunction with Staemmler’s paper. In ‘Moving towards a more supportive field’, the authors take the idea of being co-emergent in the field, rather than the weaker relational idea of existing within one, and apply it to Gestalt practice in particular kinds of community groups or teams. This is illustrated with examples from their experience. 

Rob Farrands’s article offers yet another facet on this theme. He returns to an in-depth re-reading of Gestalt Therapy (PHG). From his organisational consultant perspective he revisits concepts such as spontaneity, aggression and the nature of contact, and draws on an ecological perspective to look at relational Gestalt implications of co-existence applied to working with large, complex systems. 

In a similar vein, Billy Desmond’s paper also questions individualist perspectives and discusses homophobia as a field-dependent phenomenon. He sets his theme in the wider social and political context, challenging the notion of internalised homophobia, and cogently arguing for the sense of self that is co-emergent in the phenomenal field. In contrast to the organisational focus of the previous two papers, however, Desmond considers issues of concern to individual therapists, such as the need to be reflexive about our sexualities and gives examples of how dialogue can serve to make shame tolerable. He concludes with insightful reflections on therapist self-disclosure. 

There is a lively correspondence section in this issue, with a dialogue between Scott Kellogg and Sharon Beirne following the review of Kellogg’s book which we published in volume 24.2. Readers will notice amongst other differences of opinion this issue’s themes of individualism and relationality being played out in the arguments here relating to differing approaches to therapy. Incidentally, the therapeutic use of chair work is also referred to by Frank Staemmler in his article. There is also a final exchange between Isabel Fernandez Hearn and Peter Philippson stimulated by the article by Hearn and Rodenas on culture in volume 24.1. 

It seems fitting to conclude this issue with Leanne O’Shea’s opinion piece on the poetics of the erotic. In a delightfully personal way it is an expression of living out the themes addressed in this issue, and for some readers, this might be the place to start reading! 

This is Belinda Harris’s final issue as an Assistant Editor, and we thank her for her intellectual grasp and the hard work and commitment she brought to the task. Hilary Holford has joined the team and we welcome her as she gets to grips with all that’s involved. The 2017 issues of the BGJ are going to be partly occupied with articles which will form part of an innovative conference hosted by the UKAGP and celebrating 25 completed years of the BGJ, 30 June–2 July 2017. More details about this will be sent out in our newsletter and posted on the website. If you have a strong response to any of the articles in this issue, please consider writing to us at editor@britishgestaltjournal.com. It’s great to hear from our readers! 

Christine Stevens

Letters to the Editor

Scott Kellogg and Sharon Beirne - Dialogue following a review of Transformational Chairwork

The shared value of meaning  - Isabel Fernandez Hearn 

The ‘search for meaning’ - Peter Philippson


Poetics of the erotic - Leanne O’Shea