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Putting the rich tapestry of Gestalt Therapy on display

In October I am supposed to be going to Belfast, Northern Ireland to participate in a small, but intensely intimate group focused on working with people in groups (http://www.gisc.org/practitioners/programs/RootsVIConference.php).

It is a conference in which the following people will be presenting on the following subjects (there are others, but this is a cross-section of presentations):

Talia Bar-Yoseph Levine, UK & Israel

Business Families — The Beauty and The Complexity

Business families present a unique challenge to the consultant — a given of two groups; the family and the organisation both over lapping, involved from within and without, differently invested etc.

The complexity of business, family, generations gaps, blurred boundaries, shared history, hierarchy and expectations demand of the consultant a wider set of skills, diverse and creative being.

Talia Bar-Yoseph Levine wishes to present the complexity, bring a few examples allow space for discussion, experiment and sharing of experiences.

Simon Cavicchia, UK

Senior Team Dialogue — Facilitating the Emergence of Leadership in Complex and Uncertain Times

In this presentation I intend to offer an overview of a particular approach to working with senior teams in complex and uncertain contexts.

I shall draw on my experience of working with numerous teams tasked with making meaning about their context and developing strategies for leading their functions and organisations through volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity and where past learning and existing models of practice are insufficient alone to respond to the challenges they face.

Marie Anne Chidiac, England

Working with Multi-Disciplinary Teams: Gestalt and Team Coaching

This presentation will address the challenges of coaching multidisciplinary teams in organisations and how Gestalt can support both our thinking and practice in this area. The presentation will explore the growing trend in using multidisciplinary team coaching as an organisational performance improvement intervention and both the advantages/challenges of this approach.

The presenter will provide a framework of how Gestalt informed coaching practice can support such interventions and will illuminate this with practical examples from her work.

Barry Gruenberg, USA

Leading through Uncertainty: A Gestalt-based Approach to Developing Groups of Leaders at Microsoft

In a world characterised by high levels of turbulence and ambiguity, the “expert” theory of leadership, which requires a leader to quickly and decisively provide a direction, can lead to highly unrealistic expectations that can erode the confidence of both a leader and his followers.

The inability to provide quick solutions to highly complex and unprecedented challenges can lead to a leader appearing “indecisive” and “incompetent” by those above and below him as well as to the leader herself.

Working with small groups of Microsoft leaders, we have attempted to use a number of Gestalt insights to help leaders adopt an alternative mental model of leadership, adaptive leadership, in which the leader’s role is to facilitate the creation of a shared figure in a group that draws from the perspectives, experience and interests of all of the group’s members rather than relying on the leader to deliver a direction.

Participants are taught to work in small groups and to periodically “go to the balcony” to observe how they are affecting the group and the group is affecting them.

They are also taught to appreciate the entire Gestalt Cycle of Experience, increasing their understanding of the importance of the processes that affect theirs and others’ awareness, the construction of shared meaning, and the importance of completion through reflection.

This workshop describes and provides experiential exposure to our approach to developing leaders by using Gestalt principles in small groups to heighten their awareness of themselves, their system, and the interaction between the two.

Chantelle Wyley and Shanil Haricharan, South Africa

Forces For Change And Forces For Sameness: Reflections On Consulting In The South African Public Service And Working With Groupings Around Traditional Culture, Liberation Culture, And Organisational Culture

The authors have consulted to the South African public sector using Gestalt as a foundational theory and the principles of Gestalt OD practice as an orienting methodology, since the mid-1990s.

In the mid-2000s they became interested in the culture of the South African public service and its relationship to service delivery.

After the euphoria of liberation and democracy, non-performance and inadequate delivery have regrettably become features of the South African public service.

Despite access to resources (via a well-managed tax collection and public finance allocation system) and an extensive three-tier public service employing 1.6 million public servants, basic service delivery in South Africa is considered unsatisfactory by the majority of citizens.

As consultants to a number of government departments at different levels and with different size client groupings, the authors investigated whether the culture of government departments is adversely affecting service delivery.

This reflection will offer insights into their conclusions and their consulting methods and practice, and link these to orienting Gestalt theory.

My own contribution is described as follows:

The Concept of the ‘Body of Christ’ in Christian Groups: The Model in Theory and Practice

Christian groups can be small, as in the case of a home Bible study, or large, as in the case of an entire local church of two or three thousand.

What transcends all Christian group configurations is the concept of the Body of Christ. This is an organismic construct — a body with many parts comprising a whole — and not the institutional and organisational structure many are familiar with when they think of organised religion. This presentation will briefly explore this model, explaining the theory and providing examples of its application.

When I think about bringing this message to this select international group of consultants, coaches, and therapists, I wonder just what part I actually play in the Body of Christ. How is it, for instance, that this conference accepted a proposal about “The Body of Christ?” That amazes me.

Is there something that God intends to do through me in that group? How will God supply the finances to make it possible for me to attend?

What resources, in the form of gifted people, will be present to resonate with what I say in the conference?

How will the discussion groups associated with each presentation deal with the issues and what will God say to the people present? The Spirit of God animates the Body of Christ, which transcends the local church and is a manifestation of the Kingdom of God.

Frankly, I intend to stand back and watch what happens.