Margaret Rosemary established her practice as a Gestalt Psychotherapist in Sheffield in 1991, (www.gestaltinsheffield.co.uk). She is UKCP registered and an accredited member of GPTI. Her previous 20-year career was in teaching and she was a Head of Department of Modern Languages. She has three children and six grandchildren.
Q: How did you decide to train as a Gestalt Psychotherapist?
A: I suffered burnout and physical illness after a long career as a schoolteacher and went to a therapist who happened to be a Gestaltist. Not only was this a wonderfully healing experience, I was also fascinated by the creative process between us. I decided not to return to the classroom but to retrain in Gestalt Psychotherapy. At that time it was possible to follow courses at different training Institutes. I began at Sherwood in Nottingham, then proceeded to Manchester Gestalt Centre, Metanoia, Gestalt South West in Bath, The Gestalt Centre London and AAGT conferences in New Orleans, Cleveland Ohio and New York, finally qualifying with a GPTI diploma in 1996.
Q: Did any particular person inspire you?
A: Yes, definitely John Mitchell, artist, writer and Gestalt Psychotherapist. I gained much from his creative style and aspire to be as honest as he is.
Q: What kind of therapist are you?
A: I am particularly interested in immediate contact and in noticing styles of contact. I like to get to a level where clients will let me tease them. I enjoy creating experiments with clients and staying in the present as much as possible. I have been running Gestalt groups continuously since 1991 and see running a group as central to my work.
Q: How do you keep your interest in Gestalt vivid and fresh?
A: Largely by not attending too many Gestalt workshops! I attend courses of a great variety of orientations where the comparisons between other approaches and a gestalt approach is most informative.
Q: Tell us about your article to be published in the next issue of the British Gestalt Journal.
A: With much encouragement from one of my supervisors, I decided to write an account of a particularly unusual case, where I accompanied a client to places outside of the therapy room. I obtained the client's permission to write for publication, without knowing whether any journal might publish it. I hoped the BGJ would accept it, but thought this unlikely. I hadn't seen case studies in the BGJ, but also I felt intimidated by the idea the journal might only accept theoretical articles and that I'd not had an academic background.
It took me a year to write and no-one except my supervisors and the client knew I was writing. I wanted to avoid any pressure or deadlines.
When I read the Editor's invitation for submissions to the next issue of the BGJ, I took the plunge and sent Christine my case study.
It happened to coincide with the results of the recent readers' survey asking for case studies to be included in the Journal.
Furthermore, the content also happened to coincide with the publication of Peter Philippson's article 'Failure to Launch' in the June 2014 issue which deals with the same theme.
To my delight, Christine was enthusiastic and with the backing of the rest of the editorial team decided to publish my article.
Then followed a flurry of emails, where I had to trim and edit the slightly wandering style of my initial piece.
I was used to this, having had a spell as a reporter on a local paper in my teens and much later having published an article in the Times Educational Supplement.
I felt very well supported by Christine's assiduous re-reading of my amended pieces and hands-on help with the more professional couching of the article. For example I really didn't know what an 'abstract' or an 'endnote' was.
The only real difficulty I encountered, where I was deliberately excluded by the academic world, was in trying to read articles online. I wanted the source of a quote I knew well. I had read it in an article I'd kept at home. After mislaying the paper I searched online. Several websites refused to allow me to read this paper, informing me I was “not an authorised researcher”.
Q: What kind of reaction do you think there may be to the publication of your case study and what would you like?
A: I expect some discussion of the advisability and usefulness of meeting a client outside of the therapy room. It would be interesting for me to read any reactions to the actual work, especially since case work is so confidential it can only usually be discussed in supervision.
Q: Might you now write more pieces?
A: I am engaged in a current project writing for my grandchildren an account of growing up in the 40s and 50s. I imagine this will occupy me for some time to come!
Interviewed by Christine Stevens - Editor, British Gestalt Journal.
To Find out more about Margaret Rosemary and her practice:
Gestalt in Sheffied