Louise O'Dwyer

I was creatively thriving as an actor, but deeply missing a sense of sustained community in my life.

What drew you to the study of gestalt?

I heard about gestalt therapy through a past student of GTA. I was looking to skill-up on counselling skills for my teaching workshops.  I was creatively thriving as an actor, but deeply missing a sense of sustained community in my life; so I was looking to belong, and open to a change.

What stands out for you about the course?

What stands out about this training is that it is experiential, slow, thorough, and at times, very difficult, because you are being given the opportunity to comb through and process your own wounds.  Fortunately you arrive at your strengths as well, and this happens through real support from teachers who are all amazing and practicing therapists themselves. This is a very complex thing to do as a school.  So it is quite a unique training!

What was your experience of the ConnectGround clinic?

I joined ConnectGround clinic as a nervous third year student, and as this was a career change for me, I was not sure what to expect.  It is a highly supportive clinic with managers who have a very intelligent and considered sense of what clients would be right for you, and vice-versa.  They are also wonderful at balancing deep support with personal challenge. The individual and group supervision is also very supportive, and gave me a sense of being held while I grew in my capacity.

Do you feel connected to a community of practice?

The trainings I have been involved in from the wider community of practice at GTA have been very dynamic, exciting and at times transformative. I am excited that the VAGP has inaugurated, and now that I have graduated, I feel embedded in a deeply supportive community, which feels very necessary to have as a psychotherapist.

How has completing studies to become a gestalt therapist changed your life?

Professionally, I have stepped into a new career as a psychotherapist.  I didn't start the training thinking I would be here, and in fact I came in with a lot of ambivalence, and was looking to find a way to strengthen my career life.  And now here I am, practicing!  Personally, the training helped me understand, strengthen and deepen my way of being with others.  One-on-one therapy is great, but being in a group for 4 years brings up so much of our family-of-origin dynamic, which is really hard, but very profound in terms of growth and transformation.

What was your professional background prior to studying at GTA?  What are you doing now?

I came from a theatre acting and teaching background, and I am now in private practice as a gestalt psychotherapist.

What was your experience of the course?

The course is really hard! But the payoff is worth it. It is paced so that it is digestible, and it is profoundly transforming if you let it be. And probably pretty transformative if you don't!

What would you say to someone who was thinking about doing the training program?

Get a good therapist while you are doing it.  And try not to eat too much cheese!