Often reframed as mindfulness, acceptance, focussing or compassion focused therapy, and having borrowed from buddhism, Zen, Reichian therapy, the Gestalt practice of starting where we are has retained its power for nearly 60 years, for centuries if we acknowledge that this is pre-psychoanalytic.
Basic counselling training teaches counsellors how to provide a safe space: on a practical level this includes the therapy room or setting and confidentiality, and psychologically it includes lack of judgment, warmth and the quality of congruence or transparency – the willingness to bring our selves into the work in all our flawed humanness.
These simple certificate level concepts deepen and deepen over time within the counsellor and we may use different terms like acceptance, compassion, inquiry, mindfulness. We learn about neural networks and the formation of neural pathways, the brain, brain chemistry and about post traumatic stress and hyper-vigilance. We increase our knowledge of the body – central in Gestalt therapy – and how the body knows and remembers and holds our responses, our patterns, our belief systems.
All these findings and theories come back to one place – here and now. Here and now is the methodology of Gestalt therapy and the more I live and the more I learn, the more I realise this is the basis of all healing. I’ve learned with copious amounts of training and post qualification training which I undertake every year. My own illness and recovery, the pandemic and lockdown are repeated forms of this same lesson. By being where we are, by investing in the here and now we come to understand and accept ourselves – in the presence of another if this begins in therapy. This is often not appealing to a new client – acceptance?! they don’t want acceptance, they want to change, to be better, to be more acceptable first. And this is the paradox. Change does come about, but not by straining or pushing, it comes about through relaxing into our current position, our ‘what is’.
..change occurs when one becomes what he is, not when he tries to become what he is not. Change does not take place through a coercive attempt by the individual or by another person to change him, but it does take place if one takes the time and effort to be what he is — to be fully invested in his current positions.
This is the core of Beisser’s Paradoxical Theory of Change (my favourite theory for 30 years), explains that the more we try to fight where we are, the more we stay stuck and the more we invest in the here and now the more we move. Beisser wrote this in the 60s when his current position was in an IRON LUNG! I bet he didn’t want to accept where he was.
Therapy and science have moved on to bring us more evidence and conclusions from neuroscience and working with trauma and those of us who have incorporated this knowledge know that whatever issue we are working with we have to start with soothing the nervous system. How do we do this? With body awareness, in the here and now.
We start where we are and this has a knock on effect on our nervous system which in turn enables better brain function. Only from here can behavioural change take place. No human (or animal) will be able to re-train, or to explore with curiosity, until they are safe and their nervous system and brain reflect this.
Sounds like Gestalt doesn’t it? And it also sounds like Alexander Technique to my life long friend and colleague Imogen Ragone.
Our first Body-Mind Workshop 2013
Woodlands Centre, Derby, UK
In 2012 during a visit to America, she and I wrote our first workshop sitting on a train to New York. The workshop, like those subsequently, was infused with our excitement about the meeting of the Gestalt approach and the Alexander approach. We found that we wanted to do more than talk for hours about these transformational ideas. We ‘swapped’ therapy and Alexander sessions, exploring being the ‘client’ in both approaches. I was honoured to be invited to observe Imogen working with a regular client and to attend her group class. My trip to New York was to visit Dr. Elinor Greenberg a key influence in my own practice and to have some exciting supervision with her as well as lunch. Imogen attended an Alexander session with a New York teacher while I saw my Gestalt mentor and friend.
Imogen has developed her Alexander Technique teaching over the years in the USA while I’ve developed my psychotherapy practice in the UK. The Reubenfeld Method is the only combination we could find synthesising Gestalt and AT, and Reubenfeld is a NY based colleague of Elinor’s. Our approach is nothing like the Reubenfeld method, in a similar way my Gestalt doesn’t resemble Fritz Perl’s sessions and doubtless Imogen’s AT has its own distinctive flavour.
Please join me and Imogen now in 2021 to work with these ideas and more; to enhance your own wellbeing and the wellbeing of those you work with. Share our enthusiasm for being present in our bodies and the transformational impact of not trying.
Our 4th International Body-Mind Workshop is already booking up. Some participants have attended previous workshops.
Our workshops are predominantly experiential, practitioners try out, experience and learn through doing and reflection. The exercises not only enhance participants’ wellbeing and personal Body-Mind relationship but can be helpful for clients in practice. All our work is underpinned by theory and there are resources regarding neuroscience, trauma, stress and much more.
Normally we would have 4 sessions through one full workshop day, but this year we are having one session a week over 4 weeks. This is likely to increase the learning potential with time to practise techniques between sessions and to read the articles we will be linking into the programme.
This training is for anyone who works with people who have bodies and minds! We look forward to seeing you there. If you’d like to meet us first why not listen in to our short chats here,
THE EMOTIONAL BODY
4th International Body-Mind Workshop
with Imogen Ragone and Miriam Grace
This workshop series offers personal and professional development for Therapists, Counselors, Alexander Technique Teachers, Somatic Educators, Bodyworkers and others in related fields. CPD training hours.
Use coupon code EARLYBIRD to get the early bird discount when you register by May 24.
We are affected by what is going on within us, what is going on around us and what is going on within the other person.
With significant changes in our environment and ways of connecting with others in the last year, how can the body intelligence and wisdom approach taught by Imogen and Miriam on their workshops be used in new ways to support ourselves and those we work with?
The Emotional Body Workshop is our fourth international body-mind training. This time we will be meeting virtually over four sessions. We will explore self-awareness, the body in the virtual world, and the strategies we use for both of those, including self-care and minimizing vicarious traumatization from pandemic experiences.
We aim to introduce simple takeaway exercises that can be learned and practised over the month of June to restore a sense of calm awareness and flexible responsiveness In times of change and challenge.
The Emotional Body workshop explores an awareness of emotion within our own bodies, awareness of emotion within our clients’ bodies, and the impact of the healing relationship upon the emotional body of both helper and client within the following four sessions:
June 7, 2021: 11am – 12:30pm US Eastern Time / 4 – 5.30pm UK
The Wise Body: Self care and body awareness
June 14, 2021: 11am – 12:30pm US Eastern Time / 4 – 5.30pm UK
Is Any BODY There?: Working in a virtual world
June 21, 2021: 11am – 12:30pm US Eastern Time / 4 – 5.30pm UK
Traumatization: The body during a pandemic
June 28, 2021: 11am – 12:30pm US Eastern Time / 4 – 5.30pm UK
Breathe…Out: Letting go and letting be
As we develop the content, these may be subject to minor change.
Our workshops are fun and involve experiential exercises, a little movement, discussions, and even some time away from the screen as we center on self awareness and discovery.
The underpinning theory that our work draws on will be referenced and supported with reading materials, but the learning format is not seminar based.
As always, we will adjust the content to meet the interests and concerns of the group.
Cost: £150 (approx. $210 USD)
BOOK NOW USING OUR DISCOUNT COUPONS AND PAY ONLY:
£99 individual (approx. $140 USD) – Coupon Code: EARLYBIRD
£115 organisation (approx. $160 USD) – Coupon Code EARLYBIRDORG
Register by May 24th to get the Early Bird Discount!
About your trainers:
Imogen Ragone has been a certified teacher of the Alexander Technique for 15 years. She has developed her own approach, BodyIntelligence, which emphasizes an embodied mindfulness that can be applied to all sorts of activities and situations – life, in fact! Imogen lives in the US and has been successfully working with clients online, both individually and in groups, since 2014.
Miriam Grace is a Psychotherapist with over 30 years experience. Her training in Gestalt introduced her to body psychotherapy and she has since undertaken further training in somatics, movement and body work therapy. She is currently working from the UK via video link and exploring body based interaction and relating via this new medium.
Click here to book your place now. Individuals use coupon code EARLYBIRD and organizations use coupon code EARLYBIRDORG to get the early bird discount when you register by May 24, 2021.
See our free chats about The Emotional Body below in which we discuss some of the concepts we’ll be exploring in the workshops:
Individuals use coupon code EARLYBIRD
and organizations use coupon code EARLYBIRDORG
to get the early bird discount when you register by May 24, 2021.