Overview[ edit ] Edwin Nevis , co-founder of the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland, founder of the Gestalt International Study Center, and faculty member at the MIT Sloan School of Management, described Gestalt therapy as "a conceptual and methodological base from which helping professionals can craft their practice". Expanded, they support the four chief theoretical constructs explained in the theory and practice section that comprise Gestalt theory, and that guide the practice and application of Gestalt therapy. Gestalt therapy was forged from various influences upon the lives of its founders during the times in which they lived, including: the new physics , Eastern religion , existential phenomenology , Gestalt psychology , psychoanalysis , experimental theatre , as well as systems theory and field theory. As the cognitive revolution eclipsed Gestalt theory in psychology, many came to believe Gestalt was an anachronism. Because Gestalt therapists disdained the positivism underlying what they perceived to be the concern of research, they largely ignored the need to use research to further develop Gestalt theory and Gestalt therapy practice with a few exceptions like Les Greenberg , see the interview: "Validating Gestalt" [4]. However, the new century has seen a sea of change in attitudes toward research and Gestalt practice.

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Beginning to develop implementation and action plans. Levels of System From the cycle of experiences, we can see that it applies to different levels of organization or as said in Gestalt, different levels of system. For every conflict or problem or situation, there are multiple levels of system.

For the Gestaltist, the decision is which level to intervene. Intrapersonal The intrapersonal level of system is focused on the self, the individual. As a way of orientation, the individual client could learn to track his or her cycle of experience and how the cycle is short-circuited before completion. As a way of exploring internal dynamics, the individual could be encouraged to explore individual yearning, perceptions, internal dialogues and processes as a means to personally develop.

Interpersonal The interpersonal level of system is defined as the self and other, where other could be an individual, a group, or a subgroup. Because the boundary defines the interaction, the focus of interventions would be to clarify the boundary that exists between and individual and other and type of exchange that moves back and forth across this boundary.

Small group The small group is actually a subgroup that could be a dyad or triad that serves to unite the subgroup as a different entity amongst the larger group. For example, three Cherokee Indians could be a subgroup within a larger group that is not Native American. As an intervention, the focus would be to heighten the awareness of the existence of subgroup and explore how this subgroup impacts the functioning of the larger group as well as the members of the subgroup..

Organization The organization or group or total system level is the largest present system. The boundary is around the entire organization that is has been brought together for a specific purpose. The goal is to create an awareness of the group consciousness, and its characteristics as it exists separate from each individual or subgroup.

As an intervention, the Gestaltist could pay attention to the behavior, tone, and characteristics of the group or organization as a whole. Interrelatedness of Levels Because a group may have subgroup, interpersonal dynamics, and individual experiences, there is constant interplay across and within the different levels of system.

Nonetheless, each level of system contains the conflict or problem or situation in its entirety. Each level of system can influence all other levels of system. And, for the conflict, problem or situation to be fully resolved, all levels of system must explicitly address the issue. The original conception of resistances to change was to identify the resistance and to determine how to overcome or to work through it.

Similar to the discussion in Part I, the theory for organizations evolved and began to look at resistances as differing contact styles that were resisting a specific form of awareness. More recently, the theory has begun to expand to an even broader perspective where disruptions in the cycle of change are viewed as competing commitments. Through deeper investigation, the organization is able to identify the big assumption that underlies the competing commitment.

If it is a matter of identifying and bringing the behavior into awareness, then the competing commitment will dissolve and the cycle will continue on to completion. However if it is revealed that the competing commitment is a polarity to be management versus a problem to be resolved, then the organization will have increased its awareness of the situation and will be able to make the necessary adjustments to complete the cycle of change.

Either way, the organization has a method by which to track the change process and to understand the disruptions that inevitably occur in any change initiative. New York: Random House. New York: Brunner-Mazel. We Appreciate Your Feedback Please let us know if you found this article interesting or useful.

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Gestalt Cycle of Experience



Josef Zenker



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Joseph Zinker – Gestalt International Study Center, Cape Cod (USA)


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