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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.