Volume 23, 2 (2014)


Volume 23, 2 (2014)


The British Gestalt Journal 2013, Volume 23, 2


Editorial - Christine Stevens 

Successful launch: a case study - Margaret Rosemary 

Attentional scope and mental illness - Peri Mackintosh 

Relational perspectives on coaching groups  - Catherine Carlson and Robert Kolodny 

Contact and despair: a Gestalt approach to adolescent trauma - Bronagh Starrs 


Add To Cart


This editorial is an opportunity to bring readers up to date with some major developments we have been working on at the British Gestalt Journal. Many of you will have seen our new website www.britishgestaltjournal.com which was launched in time for the AAGT Conference in Asilomar, California, and the UKAGP Conference in London, both in September this year. Although we have had a web presence for some time, this newly redesigned website enables readers for the first time to take out digital subscriptions, and for a small fee to download digital back copies for personal study. For some of our international readers especially this makes subscribing to the BGJ much more affordable as they no longer have to pay printing and postage costs. We have been delighted to see an upsurge of subscriptions as a result. We are continuing to bring out the printed version of the Journal as usual and these subscriptions are also increasing. With the printed book increasingly a consumer choice rather than a necessity, a physical archive of slim yellow BGJ volumes on their office shelves is a thing some Gestalt therapists cherish! 

The new website not only provides access to the Journal content, but is being developed as a service to the Gestalt community, with features, news and visual images of recent events. A glance at the site will show what I mean. Currently we have posted on the home page a split-screen video of the recent UKAGP Conference which gives a flavour of the energy of the day, and a glimpse of many who were there, along with the text of the keynote address by Belinda Harris. Jo McMahon reviews Miriam Taylor’s book on Trauma in this issue of the BGJ; on the website you can watch a video of her and Miriam in discussion on the subject at the recent GPTI conference in Edinburgh. We feature Margaret Rosemary, the author of the case study published in this issue, and show images of Elinor Greenberg in her office to accompany her interview which you can read here. This integration of website and Journal offers new opportunities for different genres of writing as well as exciting opportunities to experiment with new visual ways of presenting theory and practice. 

A more truly international involvement is reflected in the Research section where Phil Brownell has pulled together information about Gestalt research around the world, and for the first time we have been able to begin to post articles in other languages, for example the Polish translation of the CORE research article, thanks to the work of Renata Mizerska, and the Spanish blog post by Pablo Herrera Salinas from Chile. New developments planned include an International Events Calendar and a newsletter which will be sent out by email in between the twice-yearly Journal issues. 

All these new ideas have been keeping us busy in the BGJ Editor’s office. Lynne Brighouse, who worked as Editorial Assistant for the last six years, left at the beginning of the year due to her success in finding psychotherapy employment after completing her training, and her help and skills as a professional journalist were invaluable and are much missed. Our new Editorial Assistant is Alice Gale-Feeny, a recent Fine Art graduate who brings a range of creative skills including video editing and copy writing to the BGJ. You can see her work all over the website and thanks to Alice you can now follow us on Twitter (https://twitter.com/ editor_bgj)! There has been much talk recently of Gestalt struggling for recognition and inclusion in the wider psychotherapy world. Our response at the BGJ is to help provide a dynamic platform where we can not only contribute to building our community of practitioners but also have the means to talk to and engage with others in the wider professional field, and to be more visible as we do so. 

Following our recent readers’ survey, in which there was a strong interest expressed in theoretical articles with more clinical application, the articles we publish in this issue all have a strong practice base. Peri Mackintosh’s work is known to many through his ‘Free Forming’ workshops. In this article he shows how he combines theory and experience in his daily work in a hospital for people who have severe mental health issues. Similarly, Catherine Carlson and Robert Kolodny write about a field sensitive, relational approach to working with groups in the context of their professional experience in coaching, and Bronagh Starrs writes about her developmentally sensitive work with teenagers and their families in Northern Ireland. Both Mackintosh’s and Starrs’s papers are developed from their presentations at the BGJ Seminar Day in London last year. 

Margaret Rosemary’s thought-provoking case study is a clinical example of the phenomenon that Peter Philippson discussed in his article, ‘Failure to launch’, in the previous issue of this journal. She describes how in this well-supervised work, she found herself to her surprise working in an extended way beyond the normal physical boundaries of her office. We would welcome responses to this account from other therapists who may have had similar experiences, or who would have made different clinical choices. 

The final article in this issue is from the occasional series ‘In their own voice’ where we interview senior Gestalt practitioners about their life and work. This interview with Elinor Greenberg is intended to be read in conjunction with images of her and her office posted on the website. Known to many for her work in bringing into Gestalt therapy an accessible understanding of clinical approaches to personality adaptations, Elinor Greenberg in conversation with Christine Stevens describes the way in which she uses the environment of her office in her work. Part formal interview, part live performance, and at times a therapy demonstration, this is an encounter which would have made a great video – alas, we only have the written account! 

In this issue we publish another instalment in the correspondence between Miriam Taylor and Lynne Jacobs following Taylor’s recent article. Besides Jo McMahon’s review previously mentioned, Katy Wakelin has reviewed Gestalt Therapy in Clinical Practice edited by Gianni Francesetti, Michela Gecele and Jan Roubal, no mean feat considering the scale and ambition of this work, opening up the contents of this edited contribution of significant essays to the Gestalt reader. Kathryn Morris-Roberts has written a creative response to Ours by Emily Skye, a collection of poems and imagery on the author’s and her family’s experiences of her being sexually abused as a child. 

Vienna Duff’s Opinion piece is a fitting counter-weight at the end of BGJ Volume 23 to Malcolm Parlett’s article on ‘The impact of war’ at the beginning. In the form of a letter, Duff writes movingly and personally of her experience of the intergenerational impact of the trauma and social disruption of war, and her struggle to come to terms with what this means in terms of her own identity. She skilfully puts into words feelings that each of us must have some version of, and challenges us to consider what this might mean in our work with our clients. 

As always, huge thanks to all those who have contributed through the peer review process and in other ways, and a warm welcome to our new subscribers and readers. Forms to submit articles to the Journal and material for the website are downloadable from www.britishgestaltjournal.com. Now that we have the technology, let’s continue to experiment to see what we can do with it! We look forward to your contributions, comments and suggestions. If you have not already done so, please sign up via the website for the BGJ Newsletter, which will be available by email in February 2015. 

Christine Stevens, PhD 

In her own voice 

Interviewing Elinor Greenberg - Christine Stevens 

Letters to the editor 

Relationship and change: a response to Lynne Jacobs  - Miriam Taylor 

Book reviews 

Understanding complex and developmental trauma from a Gestalt perspective. A review of Trauma Therapy and Clinical Practice: Neuroscience, Gestalt and the Body by Miriam Taylor  - Jo McMahon 

The gift. A response to Ours by Emily Skye  - Kathryn Morris-Roberts 

A review of Gestalt Therapy in Clinical Practice: From Psychopathology to the Aesthetics of Contact edited by Gianni Francesetti, Michela Gecele and Jan Roubal  - Katy Wakelin 


Trauma of war across generations  - Vienna Duff