Grounded in gestalt therapy's power to transform and heal, the VAGP provides practitioners with opportunities for connection, learning and reflection, and is committed to promoting gestalt therapy in the wider community.
The VAGP is a member-based organisation for graduates, students and others interested in gestalt practice, including organisational consultants and coaches. It operates as a peer support and community of practice.
TheVAGP is committed to supporting the development of the gestalt practitioner beyond their training and to provide new opportunities for leadership in the community. For the established practitioner, it offers connection, space for reflection and professional development. The association seeks to create a thriving space in which gestalt students, graduates and practitioners can explore and develop their practice and deepen their connections to the community of practice.
Annual membership fees are: $90 full membership; $50 concession and $30 for students. If you are experiencing financial hardship please contact us. We don't want to exclude people on the basis of cost.
One of the VAGP’s central offerings is The Gestalt Projects. These wonderful and diverse seminars range from the experiential, the ground-breaking and the transformative, as well as deepening into traditions and making natural links to exciting new modalities. They are designed to be inspiring, interactive, highly informative and affordable, and form a large part of VAGP’s main aim to connect, learn and reflect together.
Each year we have a social event where we celebrate together and feed the spirit of the association. This is expanding into a celebration of the whole gestalt community and will include a gathering of current students and graduation. Join us for our 2023 event to be held in December Sex, drugs, rock ’n’ roll & gestalt therapy.
We are also contemplating developing a listing of gestalt practitioners and their specialties to promote on our website as a way of supporting one-another’s work in the field. Stay tuned!
VAGP priorities for 2023
Professional development focused activities – as well as the Gestalt Project, VAGP offers supervision groups, and we are planning a mini-conference. Demonstration work and research seminars may also be offered as part of the Gestalt Project.
We are evolving ideas to establish special interest groups – such as gestalt and the environment, gestalt and LBGTIQ+, trauma, gestalt and private practice groups, reading groups and peer supervision groups.
We will also be organising social events – which seek to embrace a more informal opportunity to connect with peers and have fun!
Benefits of belonging to a community of practice
- Increased collaboration. VAGP connects people and creates an opportunity for people to interact, pool resources and work in partnership
- Innovation and creation of new ideas/knowledge: VAGP allows members to share experiences and generate new and creative ways of working as a gestalt practitioner.
- Professional development: VAGP encourages peer learning groups, professional development workshops, and learning communities
- Rapid problem solving: The VAGP provides another opportunity for sharing of important information which affects practitioners and helps facilitate quick and efficient problems solving.
- Opportunities to share, reflect and enjoy the company of other gestalt practitioners.
The Founding Committee of the VAGP
Eva Deligiannis, Craig Delphine, Tony Jackson, Rhys Price-Robertson, Annette Reeves, Sean Renehan, John Singleton.
In 2022 the Gestalt Projects seminars were:
Presenter/s: Gávi Ansara and eden brown
Anti-Oppressive Practice (AOP) is an internationally recognised, comprehensive framework for responding to any clinical issue or marginalised lived experience in ways that promote personal and community wellbeing. This seminar will provide an introductory overview of some key AOP principles, concepts, and techniques. We will apply an AOP perspective to evaluate some key strengths and limitations of Gestalt therapy and make suggestions for building an anti-oppressive Gestalt therapy community of practice. We will cover some historical, conceptual, and applied elements of AOP to explain its therapeutic value, including:
- How AOP differs from “friendly”, “inclusive’”, ”diversity positive”, and “affirming” approaches
- Why cultural humility is safer and more effective than “cultural competence”
- How to recognise and address implicit biases and privilege in your work
- Some Anti-Oppressive clinical practices you can apply to your work
- How AOP can help you to resolve some seemingly ‘”too hard basket” dilemmas and transform your practice
Dr Gávi Ansara (PhD Psychol, MCouns) (He/him) provided 20+ years of anti-oppressive practice alongside communities experiencing marginalisation. He received American Psychological Association’s Transgender Research Award for original, significant research, UK Higher Education Academy’s National Psychology Postgraduate Teaching Award, and University of Surrey Vice Chancellor’s Alumni Achievement Award for outstanding contributions to international human rights and social justice. Gávi is a polycultural, polyamorous, androsexual man living on Boon Wurrung land. He has lived experience of disability, homelessness, racist violence, and gender, body, kinship, and sexuality oppression. He strives toward cultural humility regarding his literacy, verbal, allistic, binary gender, sighted, and non-Aboriginal privilege. Contact at gavi[at]ansarapsychotherapy.com
eden brown (they/them) completed their Gestalt training in 2021. They have worked in the international development and community services sector for the past 12 years; within Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations and Indigenous non-government organisations in the Asia-Pacific region, has supported young people in state care, women and children escaping family violence and provided counselling to men who enact violence. They currently work as a counsellor for a LGBTIQ+ community health agency. They also co-chair an international online Gestalt Gender Group and is a collaborator and facilitator at Open Gestalt. eden is an able-bodied, queer, trans non-binary pasefika person of colour.
Presenters Kirti Singh and eden brown
Years ago, Gestalt took a relational turn paving way for its next turn. Given the crossroad we are at, the next ethical turn for Gestalt is towards social justice” - Kirti Singh. Through this dialogue, Kirti and eden would like to invite you to join them in expanding our capacity to hold the complexities and dynamics of the contemporary field. The current field conditioners draw our attention to the anthropocene; a landscape of rapidly evolving pandemics, climate challenges, racialised violence, ongoing sexual assault of women and children, LGTBQI-free zones, and a regression in geopolitical responsiveness. We propose more complexity, depth, and an expansion of our current ethical stance; we propose that, given the current field conditioners, the next ethical turn is a global social justice turn. Neutrality is a political position. How do we as practitioners stay experience-near, embody, integrate, and articulate an ethic of social justice in our practice? Let’s dialogue; bring your unique perspective, given our differences in positioning, to this conversation.
Kirti Singh is an International Coaching Federation (ICF) certified professional coach, and a process group facilitator. As director of exponent coaching, she works with individuals, organizations, and communities. She is a faculty at Open Gestalt and a visiting faculty at the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland, Ohio, USA. She is a cisgender woman, able-bodied, a person of color, Indian-born immigrant to Canada. In her work, she acknowledges the impact of social identities and socio-cultural field conditions; and works towards making spaces more equitable and diverse. Currently, she is co-organising the Human Rights and Social Responsibility Committee at the International Association for the Advancement of Gestalt Therapy (IAAGT). Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org.
eden brown (they/them) completed their Gestalt training in 2021. They have worked in the international development and community services sector for the past 12 years; within Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations and Indigenous non-government organisations in the Asia-Pacific region, has supported young people in state care, women and children escaping family violence and provided counselling to men who enact violence. They currently work as a counsellor for a LGBTIQ+ community health agency. They also co-chair an international online Gestalt Gender Group and is a collaborator and facilitator at Open Gestalt. eden is an able-bodied, queer, trans non-binary pasefika person of colour. Contact at email@example.com.
Presenters: Scott Kellogg and Amanda Garcia Torres
Chairwork was first developed by Dr. Jacob Moreno, the creator of Psychodrama, and then made famous in the 1960s through the work of Dr. Frederick “Fritz” Perls at the Esalen Institute in California. Following his death in 1970, a wide range of integrative psychotherapists adopted and re-imagined the practice of Chairwork. The Four Dialogues Model – Giving Voice, Internal Dialogues, Telling the Story, and Relationships and Encounters – represents a crystallisation of nearly 60 years of Chairwork development. In this seminar, we will present the Four Dialogues model and show how it can be used with a wide range of clinical issues. We will then do two demonstrations or case consultation sessions with volunteers from the group. This will be followed by discussion with the group.
Scott Kellogg, PhD, is the author of Transformational Chairwork: Using Psychotherapeutic Dialogues in Clinical Practice (2015, Rowman & Littlefield). He is a former Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at New York University and a Past-President of Division of Addictions of the New York State Psychological Association. An ISST-certified Advanced Schema Therapist, he has also trained in Gestalt Therapy and Voice Dialogue. Dr. Kellogg currently runs a Chairwork-centred private practice in New York City. Through the Transformational Chairwork Psychotherapy Project, he has taught this method of psychotherapeutic dialogue to practitioners in the United States and abroad. Website: www.transformationalchairwork.com. Contact at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Amanda Garcia Torres, LMHC, is a certified Chairwork Psychotherapist and Co-Director of Training at the Transformational Chairwork Psychotherapy Project. Ms. Garcia Torres received her Master’s Degree in Counseling for Mental Health and Wellness from New York University and has also completed training in Voice Dialogue. She began her journey with TCPP in 2013 and has trained clinicians in NYC and internationally. Her presentations and writings have addressed such topics as Chairwork, trauma, social justice, oppression, and identity issues. Ms. Garcia Torres is in private practice at Chairwork Therapy NYC. Website: www.chairworktherapynyc.com.
Depth Enquiry is an experiential process for working with trauma (developmental or single incident), negatively held beliefs, anxiety, and phobias. This workshop will give some background as to how it was developed, some theory, case studies, and a presentation of work with an attendee (if time permits). I will talk about the process in relation to some of the core gestalt principles: paradoxical theory of change, experiment, phenomenological enquiry, and field theory.
Amanda Gruhn studied gestalt and became a trainer at Sydney Gestalt Institute and Terrigal Gestalt Institute while running a practice with her partner. She developed Depth Enquiry over a number of years, after attending an EMDR training. Her practice now consists of work with individuals and couples, and with training programs. Website: https://www.depthenquiry.com.
Presenters: Anna Evans and Rhys Price-Robertson
Gestalt therapy has a holistic approach, promoting integration of mind and body. However, it is not uncommon for gestalt therapists to have a strong sense that the body is important, yet limited confidence in deepening embodied process with their clients. In this experiential seminar, we will explore practical ways to work with the conversations our bodies are already and always having. We will speak to the importance of meeting clients where they are on their journey to mind-body integration so that interventions match their orientation to their bodies. And we will explore therapists’ own capacities for embodiment. Come prepared to feel, move, practice, and connect.
Anna Evans is a psychologist and psychotherapist working in private practice and a member of GTA faculty. Anna has a keen interest in embodiment and was a yoga teacher for 10 years. She now follows an approach to yoga developed by Vanda Scaravelli. She is engrossed by the idea that every joint in the body is relational, and likes to explore approaches that cultivate an attitude of participation of both therapist and client in whatever is emerging.
Dr. Rhys Price-Robertson is a gestalt therapist, researcher, and member of GTA faculty. He believes that many of the issues people bring to therapy are connected to, and manifested in, the body, and that it is important for therapists to continually develop their own capacities for embodiment. Rhys has published widely on topics such as psychotherapy, mental health, fatherhood, family life, and social theory, and was previously the Editor of the Psychotherapy and Counselling Journal of Australia(PACJA).
Presenter: Leslie Ellis
Dreams provide immediate access to our clients' inner lives. When we are able to help our clients experience their dreams in a curious, open way, they are able to directly access the dream's tendency to carry their life situation forward. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Ellis has been working with dreams in clinical practice and has come to favour three embodied experiential dreamwork techniques: “finding the help” in a dream (from focusing), re-entering a dream element (from gestalt therapy), and dreaming the dream onward (from Jung). These experiential methods can be used and combined to safely and constructively navigate the depths of any dream. In this introductory workshop, Dr. Ellis will offer examples, a demonstration, and experiential exercises that will show participants how to allow the dreamer to discover for themselves what the dream is trying to tell them.
Dr. Leslie Ellis is a teacher, author, and psychotherapist interested in the many ways of cultivating inner life, especially through dreams and the body. She is currently offering online dreamwork instruction based on her book, A Clinician’s Guide to Dream Therapy (Routledge, 2020). She also offers training in focusing, a somatic approach to psychotherapy. Leslie has a PhD in Clinical Psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology and a Masters from Pacifica Graduate Institute. She is vice president of the International Association for the Study of Dreams and past president and a Certifying Coordinator with The International Focusing Institute.
Presenters: Annette Reeves
Many clients struggle with setting and maintaining healthy personal boundaries in their lives. Conducting boundary experiments is a way to explore the creation of safe boundaries that goes beyond just talking about them, offering clients a deeper and more nuanced experience of sensing and setting boundaries. Drawing on gestalt therapy principles, along with the trauma work of Pat Ogden and Bessel van der Kolk, and attachment theory, this in-person, experiential seminar will involve demonstrations of boundary experiments and chances for participants to practice what they have learned. It will also outline the guiding principles that will assist therapists in creating their own experiments that are appropriate for a particular client at a particular time.
Annette Reeves (BA [Sociology], BA [Vis. Art], DipEd, AdvDip Gestalt Psychotherapy, Level 2 Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Depth Enquiry) is a psychotherapist who has a particular interest in trauma work and is currently working in private practice in Fitzroy. She also works as a volunteer therapist with Thorne Harbour Health and is a proud member of a rainbow family. She is a mother and aunt and has worked in the creative industries for many years.
Panellists: Noel Haarburger, Annette Reeves, Anna Skolarikis, Phyllis Traficante & Rob Watson. Host: Rhys Price-Robertson
Date: Tuesday 29 November, 6:30pm-8:30pm.
A number of Australian gestalt therapists have gone on to study somatic experiencing, sensorimotor psychotherapy, or similar trauma-focused modalities. What were they seeking in this training that they did not find in gestalt therapy? What does gestalt therapy offer that trauma modalities do not? How can therapists integrate gestalt therapy and trauma work in their practice with clients? In this panel discussion, five therapists who have studied both gestalt therapy and somatic approaches to trauma will share their experiences of learning and working across these different therapeutic modalities.
Noel Haarburger has been a faculty member and trainer at Gestalt Therapy Australia (GTA) since 2001, and works in full time private practice as a psychologist, psychotherapist and somatic experiencing therapist, working with individuals and couples, as well as offering individual and group supervision to allied health professionals. He specialises in working with trauma, as well offering training (at the Equine Psychotherapy Institute) in nature and equine assisted psychotherapy at his private practice in Daylesford.
Annette Reeves is a psychotherapist who has a particular interest in trauma work and is currently working in private practice in Fitzroy. She has studied gestalt psychotherapy, sensorimotor psychotherapy, and depth enquiry. She also works as a volunteer therapist with Thorne Harbour Health and is a proud member of a rainbow family. She is a mother and aunt and has worked in the creative industries for many years.
Anna Skolarikis is a gestalt psychotherapist and somatic experiencing practitioner. Anna is the co-founder of Restoring Resilience, which provides trauma resolution trainings for individuals, schools, families, and organisations. The trainings are a synthesis of gestalt theory, polyvagal theory, and somatic experiencing. Anna is in private practice specialising in attachment and developmental trauma and provides clinical supervision/reflective practice for Wyndham City Council and the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency.
Phyllis Traficante is gestalt psychotherapist and somatic experiencing practitioner. Phyllis works in private practice and is the co-founder of Restoring Resilience, a training organisation within which she co-develops and delivers trauma resolution programs with a relational, neuroscientific framework for parents, schools, communities, and organisations. Phyllis works with children, youth, and families, and is a clinical supervisor. Phyllis is a trauma specialist and consultant for the NDIS.
Rob Watson is gestalt psychotherapist, graduating from GTA in 2012, and a somatic experiencing practitioner. Other therapeutic influences include internal family systems and the diamond approach. Rob works two days per week in private practice in Northcote and Ringwood. In addition, Rob works three days per week in Community Services for Anglicare Victoria as a team leader and supervisor to a team of drug and alcohol counsellors.
Rhys Price-Robertson is a gestalt therapist, researcher, and member of the GTA teaching faculty. Rhys has published widely on topics such as psychotherapy, social theory, mental health, fatherhood, and family life, and was previously the editor of thePsychotherapy and Counselling Journal of Australia (PACJA).