Gestalt Therapy International

A community of dialogue

Programs around the world

Facilitating authentic living & working

10 Professional Workshops Available

#1 Personal Growth & Spiritual Growth

#2 The Unvirtues: A non-shaming exploration of self-interest in relationship

#3 Shame and Belonging

#4 Leadership and Power

#5 Family Constellations

#6 Authentic Dialogue

#7 Gestalt process oriented model of working with couples and families

#8 Phenomenology and the therapeutic use of awareness

#9 Field Theory

#10 Gestalt therapy

#7 A process oriented model to working with couples and families

Content of the activity and a detailed outline of the event

Joseph Zinker and Sonia Nevis have developed a model of working with couples, based on a Gestalt approach, and incorporating systemic principles.

The model is elegant, effective, and relatively easy to learn. It can be applied immediately by professionals experienced in the field of couples and family work.

A number of general themes and approaches underlie the model:

  • Phenomenological observation
  • I-thou dialogue
  • Styles of contact
  • Working with resistance
  • Paradoxical Theory of Change
  • Field theory
  • The cycle of awareness
  • Organismic self regulation
  • Working at the boundary of the system
  • Tailored therapeutic experiments
  • Enhancing awareness
  • Orientation to process over content
  • Aesthetic appreciation of systemic dynamics
  • Existential approach to therapy
  • Working with support
  • Polarities

The model itself involves five steps and three stages of interventions. It utilises a positive psychology approach, and begins in a way which is competency-based, and de-shaming of the couple/family system.

This approach requires a skilful mindset, and a willingness and ability to look for functionality in the midst of dysfunction.

The careful attention to boundaries of the couples/family system is reminiscent of the one-way mirror model, though this is achieved without a team/supervisor providing support for staying at the boundary of the system.

The interventions dove tail into each other in a way which adds power to the behavioural component of the process.

One of the components of working successfully with systems is the balance between strong intervention, and lack of therapist investment in the outcome. To be able to reject the role of change agent - although that is the premise of the couple or family - is an important attitude and skill which will be addressed.

Another capacity required is to see the system itself, rather than the individuals in it. This requires both a mindset and a particular type of therapeutic skill.

A range of Gestalt theory underpins the model, and will be articulated. This includes the Awareness Cycle, a way of tracking the arising of themes in a couple/family system, and their movement into successful completion. It is in the places where this movement is blocked that the system needs support, and the therapist can intervene. The identified stages of the cycle are sensation/awareness-figure formation/mobilisation of energy/choice/action/contact/satisfaction-fulfilment/withdrawal.

Other areas which will be covered include

  • Complementarity and the Middle Ground
  • Ways to diagnose the system in process terms
  • Therapist as relational instrument
  • The conversion of theme into experiment

As time permits, and questions arise, other aspects of theory will also be addressed.

The seminar is oriented towards a skill based learning of the model, and participants can expect to come away with the ground to apply the model in their work.

Learning outcomes

By the conclusion of this seminar participants will be able to:

  • Understand the Zinker-Nevis model of systemic intervention
  • Utilise a number of the skills required by the model
  • Understand the principles underlying the model
  • Focus on the process rather than content of the family/couple system
  • Be able to see and work with the ‘between’
  • Apply the model to their own work

Seminar schedule

  • Introductions in the group
  • Presentation of the framework of the model
  • Questions, discussion
  • Demonstration of working with the model
  • Deconstruction, discussion
  • Participants practice with the model
  • Supervisory feedback
  • Discussion
  • Introduction and explanation of other theoretical underpinnings to the model
  • Participants practice with the model
  • Supervisory feedback
  • Discussion, theory relevance
  • Wrap up, checkout

How will participants benefit from attending this seminar?

  • Gain knowledge of a process-oriented model of working with couples/families
  • Gain some skills associated with the model
  • Learn a number of theoretical underpinnings to the Gestalt approach to working with couples/families
  • Understand how to work at the boundary of a couple/family system

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