Volume 23, 1 (2014)


Volume 23, 1 (2014)


The British Gestalt Journal 2013, Volume 23, 1


Editorial - Christine Stevens 

The impact of war  - Malcolm Parlett 

Experiences from a multicultural field – a Gestalt perspective on 13 work in detention centres - Joanna Kato 

The competent Gestalt practitioner  - Gerrie Hughes 

Diversifying the ground: personal, empirical, theoretical, and clinical perspectives on Gestalt contact boundary phenomena in gay men -  Alexander Levine 

Failure to launch - Peter Philippson 

Readership survey  - Belinda Harris and Katy Wakelin 

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As Finlay says in Treplitzky’s 2013 film Railway Man, ‘War leaves a mark’. It is now 100 years since the start of World War I, which involved 30 countries and which left over 9 million men dead and 21 million wounded. As we know, this ‘war to end all wars’ was no such thing, followed just over two decades later by World War II and by countless international conflicts since. In both issues of the BGJ this year we will publish contributions which engage in some way with the marks that war leaves. 

In his beautifully written article, Malcolm Parlett ponders what he terms the ‘Gestalt silence’ on issues of war and peace and reflects on the hidden intergenerational consequences of war which he suggests may be encountered more commonly in the work of therapy than we realise. He makes some novel connections between the wartime experience of Fritz Perls and the early formulation of Gestalt therapy and considers the contribution Gestalt therapists might make towards more peaceful coexistence. 

This is followed by a graphic account by Joanna Kato of bringing Gestalt theory and practice to bear on work in Greek detention centres with refugees and illegal immigrants. The intergenerational impact of war and conflict often plays a major part in the social and economic conditions behind migration as well as the direct violence and abuse and loss of human rights that result in people becoming refugees. This report from the front line vividly portrays the field conditions, including the restraints and opportunities of the situation within which the author was working. 

The remaining articles in this issue deal with other matters, and we will return to the theme of war and conflict in the autumn issue. Gerrie Hughes, writing from her organisational and coaching perspective, considers the various strands she sees in Gestalt practice through the prism of a ‘Competence Framework’, and explains how she applies this in her work. Alexander Levine in his article about Gestalt therapy with gay men combines his own heuristic experience with an empirical research project and discusses links between theory and practice, especially in relation to boundary phenomena and creative adjustment. He makes practical clinical suggestions for working with this client group and includes some worksheets which therapists might adapt for their own use. 

Peter Philippson’s paper also discusses clinical work with a predominantly male client group, young people who ‘fail to launch’ in terms of individuating and moving on in their lives, a social phenomenon widely recognised in Japan as hikikomori. Often a worry to parents and a real challenge to the therapist, the author unpacks the dynamics of this behaviour and discusses pitfalls and possibilities for working with these clients from a Gestalt perspective. 

Hopefully almost all of you would have received an invitation to participate in our Readers’ Survey earlier this year, and we are very grateful to those of you who took the time to respond. We are in a period of review and development of the BGJ as we consider contemporary trends in publishing which offer both constraints and opportunities. We have published a summary of the survey responses in this issue for your information. We were overall very heartened by what you told us, and we received a number of constructively critical suggestions which will be helpful in our planning as we take things forward. In particular, we will be working on updating and improving the website, making it easier to download articles for personal use, and creating a more interactive, dynamic space that we hope will enhance our service to the Gestalt community, whilst continuing to provide the high standard of peer-reviewed articles that the BGJ is valued for. 

Letters from readers are always very welcome, especially as part of an ongoing dialogue with published articles, and we are pleased to be able to include thoughtful responses from Lynne Jacobs and Benet Haughton. The Marianne Fry Lecture Organising Group write reflecting on past and future lectures, and we are hoping that more informal reports from readers attending events such as these would be featured on a regular basis on the forthcoming new website. 

As usual there are a number of well-considered book reviews, an interesting range in this issue, some of which are written by new authors. Writing book reviews is one way to start to write for publication and we would welcome offers and suggestions from readers who would like to try their hand at this. Following the success of the BGJ Writers’ Workshop last year, we are holding another one this year at the beginning of June. We plan to continue to host these so if you feel this might help you in writing an article or other literary project, please get in touch and we will send you details. In our quest to encourage new writing in the Gestalt community, we are inaugurating the first BGJ Trainee Essay prize this year, details of which can be found in this journal (on page 59). 

Some respondents in the Readers’ Survey asked for more poetry, so I hope they and others enjoy the poem from the client’s perspective that we have published in the Opinion slot. 

As always, much thanks to the many reviewers and others who have been generous with their time and expertise in the putting together of this issue. 

Christine Stevens, PhD 

Letters to the editor 

Relationality and the paradoxical theory of change. A response to Miriam Taylor - Lynne Jacobs 

Listening for silence: a response to Kate Merrick  - Benet Haughton

Marianne Fry Lectures: 2013 and 2014  - Marianne Fry Lecture Group 

Book and DVD reviews 

Lust within love and commitment: a guide to opening and healing your sexual life. A review of The Heart of Desire: Keys to the Pleasures of Love by Stella Resnick  - Carole Ashton 

A growing edge in Gestalt therapy: addiction and self-medicating behaviours. A review of Gestalt Therapy for Addictive and Self- Medicating Behaviors by Philip Brownell  - Wanjiku Nyachae 

Empathy from another perspective. A review of Zero Degrees of 53 Empathy: A New Theory of Human Cruelty and Kindness by Simon Baron-Cohen  - Katy Wakelin 

A taste of Developmental Somatic Psychotherapy. A review of Developmental Somatic Psychotherapy: An Introduction. DVD by Ruella Frank  - Rachael Kellett 


By the fireplace  - Madeleine Burt