Volume 21, 2 (2012)


Volume 21, 2 (2012)


The British Gestalt Journal 2012, Volume 21, 2


Editorial - Christine Stevens 

Pain and beauty: from the psychopathology to the aesthetics of contact - Gianni Francesetti 

Self-esteem, compassion and self-compassion: from individualism to connectedness - Frank-M. Staemmler 

Breaching the silence: accessing 'acquired worlds' at the primordial level - Des Kennedy 

Gestalt therapy as an enlightenment practice - Mike Turton 

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It is curious to see how often separate articles sent in at different times from various authors coalesce into a gestalt of their own when we come to assemble the next issue of the BGJ from material that is ready to print. We are also deeply appreciative of the quality of writing and depth of thought that is brought to bear on many of the articles that are submitted to the Journal. Each published paper represents many hours of focussed thought, writing and revision. As always we are very grateful to the peer reviewers who contribute to this Journal so generously and skilfully, and we would be very pleased to hear from any readers who feel they could assist in this work. 

To take a brief overview of this issue, we have three major contributions that each in a very different style addresses the nature of the contact between therapist and client. 

In Gianni Francesetti's thoughtful and at times poetic paper on the aesthetics of contact, he discusses psycho-pathology as absence. The essence of psychotherapy, he argues, is 'distilling pain from absence and beauty from pain' through the process of relational support. 

Frank-M. Staemmler's article challenges the value of working with clients' issues of self-esteem, claiming that this can be harmful and essentially an individualistic approach. Instead, he draws on research that shows that being compassionate towards self and others can actually increase resilience and wellbeing. He gives some indicators for how this approach might be integrated into therapy practice. 

Des Kennedy's paper is part of his ongoing project to open up the work of the French philosopher Merleau-Ponty for Gestalt readers. He explores the notion of `primordial contact', the embodied sense of being in relation to others which precedes consciousness and language. We all develop 'acquired worlds' through our life experiences and the nature of therapeutic contact is the dialogic sharing of the world of the other. Taken together these papers offer a multi-faceted prism through which to reflect on and interrogate our practice as Gestalt practitioners. 

We welcome a new writer in, Mike Turton, whose brief reflective piece resonates very well with the themes of the more theoretical articles. Drawing on his own experience as a Gestalt therapist, he writes about the healing experience of 'being with' the other in the therapeutic encounter. 

In her Opinion piece, taken from a recent conference address, Katy Wakelin puts the case for Gestalt therapists to use their skills to engage dialogically with the wider world beyond the therapy room. She discusses how relational dialogue can lead to broader, more open-ended encounters than debate or dialectics, and therefore open up possibilities for change, which seems a fitting coda to the themes explored in this issue. 

In recent issues we have been giving increasingly more place to Book Reviews, reflecting the growth of books being published of interest to Gestalt practitioners, even if they are not all written by Gestaltists. The six reviews in this issue reflect a range of interests and also different styles of reviewing, which we hope readers will enjoy. We would be delighted to hear from readers who would like to contribute a book review - for some it can be a first step into being a published writer, for others a chance to formulate their thoughts after reading a particularly interesting or challenging book. 

On the subject of writing, we would like to draw readers' attention to the BGJ sponsored Writers' Workshop which is being held 6-9 June 2013. The application date for this is the end of December 2012. After considering several venues, we have decided to hold this at the Editor's home in Nottingham to keep costs to a minimum in order to be as inclusive as possible. We are very interested in developing and supporting a new generation of Gestalt writers, and the format of the workshop reflects this. Numbers will be kept low, and participants will each have a writing project in progress leading up to the workshop (article, chapter, essay, etc.). Drafts will be circulated to everyone before we meet to give time for reflection. Each participant will then have their own time in the workshop with a chairperson and a scribe, when their work will be discussed and supportive suggestions and formative feedback given by the other workshop members. This could be an ideal chance to push forward a writing project that is half-formed or stuck, or even to try out something new! For details contact editor@britishgestaltjournal.com 

Christine Stevens, PhD

Book reviews: 

Caveat emptor. let the buyer beware. A review of Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the Western Mind by Ethan Watters - Wanjiku Nyachae

Moving in and moving on. A review of The First Year and the Rest of Your Life: Movement, Development, and Psychotherapeutic Change by Ruella Frank and Frances La Barre - Neil Harris 

More clear thoughts on complex ideas. A review of Skills in Gestalt Counselling and Psychotherapy by Phil Joyce and Charlotte Sills - Lynne Brighouse 

Hidden Pearls. A review of From Planned Psychotherapy to Gestalt Therapy. Essays and lectures — 1945-1965, Frederick Salomon Perls, M.D. by Frederick S. Perls - Gaie Houston

All work and very little play. A review of Existential Therapy: Legacy, Vibrancy and Dialogue edited by Laura Barnett and Greg Madison - Peter Philippson 

Creative Morsel(s). A review of Reflective Writing in Counselling and Psychotherapy by Jeannie Wright and Gillie E. J. Bolton - Kathryn Morris-Roberts 


Debate, dialectic, dialogue: how do we find a place for Gestalt therapy in a changing world? Keynote speech: GPTI Conference, Manchester, 29 June 2012 - Katy Wakelin