Volume 22, 2 (2013)


Volume 22, 2 (2013)


The British Gestalt Journal 2013, Volume 22, 2


Editorial - Christine Stevens 

On safe ground: using sensorimotor approaches in trauma - Miriam Taylor 

Trauma constellations with a Gestalt perspective - Vivian Broughton 

What is constellation work? Another perspective: a response to Broughton - Barbara Morgan 

From the need for aggression to the need for rootedness: a Gestalt postmodern clinical and social perspective on conflict - Margherita Spagnuolo Lobb 

Gestalt therapy and 21st Century Socialism - Philip Lichtenberg 

Beyond words: the function and value of silence in therapy - Kate Merrick 

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Half of the articles in this issue of the BGJ are concerned with approaches to working with trauma. This is a current topic of considerable interest in psychotherapy with a number of approaches being developed and widely discussed. There are many reasons for this interest, but it has become particularly pertinent at a time of recurring economic recessions and austerity measures. While expenditure on services is being cut back, the prevalence of mental health issues is growing. Suicides, for example, are three times higher among the unemployed. With resources at a premium, there are hard questions being asked about what treatments work best. The articles we publish in this issue raise questions for Gestalt practitioners as to whether the theory which informs their practice is robust enough, or does it need to be augmented. Might there be gaps in Gestalt training programmes and are there additional techniques which therapists could adopt for the benefit of clients presenting with trauma symptoms? Or does Gestalt theory encompass these ideas and any differences seen as a matter of semantics? These articles are attempts by Gestalt writers to digest some of what is being developed in the wider psychotherapy world for working with trauma and to demonstrate how they are incorporating this into their work. Readers are invited to write in with their thoughts as to their own experiences in working in this area and to discuss their responses to these papers. 

Miriam Taylor finds aspects of sensorimotor therapy fit well with a Gestalt practice and also argues that a sensorimotor approach offers a special focus to working with trauma which is more accurate and helpful than a simple relational Gestalt process. She illustrates her arguments with clinical vignettes giving detailed glimpses of her work. 

Vivian Broughton in her article explores Franz Ruppert's constellation work and discusses the connections between this and a Gestalt approach. She argues that trauma of one kind or another is at the root of most psychotherapeutic work and distinguishes between Ruppert's approach and other constellations work, seeing the former as more compatible with Gestalt. She discusses various kinds of trauma in detail and shows how this can be worked with using Ruppert's ideas, which focus on the intrapsychic experience of the client. 

Barbara Morgan's response to Vivian Broughton's article has expanded from its original letter form into an article and presents a different perspective on constellation work in relation to Gestalt. She takes issue with Vivian on several points and writes about the developments in the work of Bert Hellinger, the original proponent of Constellations. Most significantly she points to the interpersonal nature of the work and writes about and gives examples of working with the interconnected field. Here are two senior and experienced therapists writing cogently and persuasively from quite different viewpoints on Constellations and Gestalt, and readers are invited to chew over these articles and write in with their own thoughts and comments. 

Following this, we have two articles by senior members of the international Gestalt community; Margherita Spagnuolo Lobb from Italy, and Philip Lichtenberg from America. They are both writing from their personal perspectives, integrating their many years of Gestalt practice with their political thinking and engagement with the wider field. Margherita's concern is to rethink the place of aggression in Gestalt theory, pointing out that while this was appropriate in Perls' context, the challenge today is to support the relationship rather than to aggress the contact. Philip refers to 'inclusive aggression' which takes the position of the other into account. He draws on his long lifetime's experience to reflect on the political changes he has seen and to suggest that new socialist developments based on egalitarianism and change from the bottom up reflect Gestalt principles. Not all readers may share his optimism or indeed his reading of political trends and it would be good by way of contrast and upholding difference to hear from readers who integrate their Gestalt thinking and their political engagement differently. 

We are often calling for new writers to come forward and submit articles, so it is a delight to welcome Kate Merrick's debut as a writer and recently qualified Gestalt therapist whose article on the place of silence in therapy was adapted from her dissertation. She writes from experience which is grounded in theory and illustrates her discussion with case examples. She presents working with silence in therapy not as an interruption to contact, but attending to it as foreground and as part of the phenomenology of the encounter. 

Bud Feder's letter raises an interesting point. As this editorial has been insisting, we would welcome correspondence from readers in response to articles and current issues. Brief letters are a lively way of contributing to the Journal, enhancing dialogue and ongoing debate. 

We publish several Book Reviews which are detailed and informative, and we are very grateful to the reviewers for their sustained efforts in producing these. The Opinion piece from Georgios Giaglis is an unusual take on the role of the therapist. 

As always we are grateful to our peer reviewers and to all who help and support the production of this Journal. 

Christine Stevens, PhD

Letter to the editor: 

Skype-diving into supervision - Bud Feder

Book reviews:

Personality pathology: a matrix of wisdom for the contemporary therapist? A review of Personality Pathology: Developmental Perspectives by Gilles Delisle - Maggie Maronitis 

Introducing Gestalt counselling and coaching. A review of An Introduction to Gestalt by Charlotte Sills, Phil Lapworth and Billy Desmond - Rodney Hill and Jamie Burnie 

Living Gestalt. A review of Gestalt at Work: Integrating Life, Theory and Practice. Collected Papers of Sean Gaffney, Volumes 1 and 2 edited by Anne Maclean - Nicky Burton


The psychotherapist as a hacker - Georgios Giaglis