Relational Gestalt Therapy

Relational Gestalt Therapy (RGT) draws on rich philosophical traditions that support direct engagement with life as it is lived. It moves us away from broad categorisations and simplifications of human experience that end up being pathologising or otherwise amplify individual blame and shame.

We are interested in the humanistic, existential and relational underpinnings of gestalt theory and are committed to understanding how these ideas interplay to inform a holistic and compassionate understanding of human existence (including illness and suffering) and ways to support choice, vitality and health for all.

Healthy people are self-regulating individuals, able to respond flexibly to changing circumstances and support themselves in many respects while accepting mutual interdependence with other people and the environment. They can strike a balance between looking after their needs and caring for the needs of other people and their community, recognising their independence with the environment and caring for it as well. They take responsibility for the choices that they make in life and especially for the meaning they give their life. They experience their ability to actualise themselves within the limits of their life circumstances.
Jenny Mackewn, Developing a Gestalt Counselling (1997).

Relational Gestalt Therapy (RGT) is a way for people to rediscover parts of themselves that they thought had no place in the world. It offers a skill set for meeting the world and other people in an honest, respectful, compassionate and vibrant way. It offers a hope for a way of working that lies beyond individualism, that reconnects us to ourselves, each other and the planet.
Anna Evans – Gestalt Therapist

Faculty experience of Relational Gestalt Therapy

The main proposition underlying RGT is that human experience is best understood holistically, by exploring the inextricable connection between notions of self, other and environment. Philosophically, our experience can be understood as belonging to us individually, as well as emerging from relationships and more broadly, the contextual factors which mediate relationships.
Fred Rossi – Faculty member
RGT is a form of psychotherapy in which the therapist engages genuinely with their client. The boundaries of the therapeutic relationship are clear, and this allows the client to become increasingly open to learning about and accepting themselves. From this place of deep understanding and acceptance by the therapist, and ultimately themselves, clients grow and develop through experimenting with new and varied ways of being in the world that includes their whole cognitive, behavioural, sensory, emotional and spiritual selves.
Nicole Van Os - Faculty member
Gestalt therapy develops our capacity to live a full human life. It does this by increasing both our awareness and our acceptance of all the ways in which we're unwilling or unable to make true contact with ourselves, those around us, and the world.
Rhys Price-Robertson
For me, the essence of Relational Gestalt Therapy is simply being curious about, trusting of and open to all of our experience and sharing that with another, in a way that deepens and enriches our awareness of ourselves and our relationships with others,  bringing with it choice.
Julie O’Donoghue
RGT becomes a way of being and not merely of doing. It can't just be learnt and applied; The therapist needs to align with RGT's core values and to take them on authentically as their own.
Cass Knight
RGT is a way of being. RGT supports being present to my embodied experience and the ways I make contact in the world. RGT is a lively and dynamic way of working with fixed patterns by supporting clients to explore in the therapeutic relationship how these behaviours make sense. RGT supports a rich and solid foundation to create new awareness and cultivate curiosity in the here and now moment. Its essence is ethical presence which guides experimental interventions.
Awombda Codd


The 6 relational principles underpin all we do at the Gestalt Therapy Australia.  They are derived from the core teaching of RGT, they describe the capacities we teach to, and hold the cultural and community intentions of the centre and all it’s activities.

Opposites: Unaware, constrained & frustrated

Awareness is the goal of Relational Gestalt Therapy.

Awareness supports connection, wisdom, spontaneity & health.We bring attention to our body (embodied awareness) because needs (longings & fears) emerge contextually first as sensation.

Beginning with embodied experience, we are more aware in the here-and-now and more likely to know what we need in any given moment and more able to act to satisfy these needs.

Awareness sets us up to be more receptive and responsive in all aspects of our life.

Opposites: Absent, distracted & reactive

Presence is at the heart of Relational Gestalt Therapy.

Presence provides a way of being in the here-and-now with openness and flexibility, able to respond to the fulness of the moment.

In this place of presence, we are aware of the ways our history and other contextual conditions might organise our current experience.

From presence we are more able to confirm the humanity of others. With compassion, we hold others with deep care.

Gestalt training supports the development of therapeutic presence.

Opposites: Closed, denying & isolated

Tuned into our own experience, more present in the here and now, we can orient ourselves to others and the world we live in.  

We become more spontaneous and receptive to our needs, and the needs of others, as they emerge in contact.

We build interest in deep satisfying interpersonal relating.

We become curious about the ways we habitually meet others and the changes and challenges of life.

As we become more aware of our habitual patterns in relating to others and meeting our needs flexibly we begin to create change, healing, or transformation.

Opposites: Rigid, blaming & shaming

In Gestalt, change often includes acceptance of our lived experience.  We understand that some of what causes distress is a response to earlier adversity and challenge (adaption).

With support we can identify and begin to let go of unhelpful pathologising narratives.  Instead of trying to be ‘someone else’, we can allow ourselves to be who we are.

We become more compassionate and curious.

We experiment in the world to create novel opportunities for growth and development.  We become more creative and flexible moment-to-moment.

Opposites: Unaccountable, self-interested & isolated

Our curiosity helps us to grapple with the ways we are situated in cultural and environmental worlds (contexts).

We develop in the context of complex relational worlds of family, school, culture, and environment. We recognise that these worlds inevitably shape how we relate to ourselves and others.

Gestalt therapy seeks to contextualise all experience, breaking down ideas of individual pathology, shame, and blame.

We ask the question ‘how does this make sense?’

We also seek to become more meaningfully engaged in responding to issues of ecology, diversity, power, and privilege.

Opposites: Self-absorbed, disconnected & lonely

Within a relational Gestalt framework, the true goal of therapy is to be engaged in the world, with a developed sense of self and an understanding of the co-emergent experiencing in relationship, family, communities large and small.

Therapy supports more than the individual who attends; it builds capacity for community.

We support people to become more ethical.  Ethical in the sense of responsive, responsible, and willing to act for justice.