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

#9 Field theory as a therapeutic approach

Content of the activity and a detailed outline of the event

When we try to pick up anything by itself

       we find it is attached to everything in the universe.

                                            -- John Muir

Field theory has been described as ‘the theory of everything'. The assumption that an individual is limited to an independent, inherent existence is part of a linear and mechanistic perspective, and is true only within a limited frame of reference.

Field theory expands our view of experience, behaviours and problems to understand them in terms of context. There are multiple layers to this context, which can also be described as nested systems. The further out we go, the greater perspective we have, but the harder to apply it to the specifics at hand. At the base, everything is interconnected.

This provides what has been referred to as a holistic orientation, and draws on traditions such as Gestalt psychology, Jan Smut’s evolutionary ideas, and especially the work of Kurt Lewin. He is known as the father of group dynamics, and originally proposed a model of what he referred to as ‘topographical psychology’.

These grand ideas and perspectives have informed the development of systemic therapies, specifically couples and family therapy. They find practical application in the range of approaches and interventions which have proved an effective alternative to individually oriented, intra-psychically focused therapy.

However, the principles of field theory can be applied equally effectively in individual psychotherapy.

In this seminar we will examine the theoretical underpinnings of this approach, and the ways in which it can be applied in therapy.

We will explore an understanding of the co-created field, which brings a relational perspective to the therapeutic dyad.

The topic of figural vs ground focus will be addressed, bringing up the question of what issue is being addressed in the therapy.

Links will be made to various other therapeutic approaches, such as development theory and related therapies.

The seminar will show how field theory can be applied in a variety of circumstances and issues, and a few techniques will be introduced.

Most fundamentally the application of field theory requires a profound shift of perspective. Although some therapies incorporate this approach, many aspects of the therapeutic world operate from a narrower focus on the individual.

Field theory also provides a relational understanding of psychopathology. Instead of something being ‘wrong’ with the person, we can look for whats wrong with the context. This provides a different focus for therapeutic interventions, and connects present experience with elements that initially may seen unrelated. Family Constellation work is a good example of this, demonstrating links between current problems and intergenerational loyalties.

Field theory is a large topic, which we will take an initial look at in this seminar.

Learning outcomes

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

  • Understand the contrast between a field theory approach to psychotherapy, and an intra-psychic one.
  • Recognise the opportunities in a therapeutic interaction for using a field-based intervention
  • Understand the nature of the interconnectedness of phenomena
  • Recognise the cocreated aspects of the therapeutic relationship
  • Understand the application of multiple causality to the therapeutic process
  • See an interaction in terms of its systemic context

Seminar schedule

  • Introductions in the group
  • Presentation of the framework of field theory
  • Field theory exercise, discussion
  • Demonstration of working with field theory in therapeutic process
  • Deconstruction, discussion

Exercise no 2

  • Demonstration of working with field theory in therapeutic process
  • Deconstruction, discussion
  • Issues arising, discussion

Exercise no 3

  • Discussion
  • Demonstration of working with field theory in group process
  • Deconstruction
  • Issues arising, discussion
  • Wrap up, checkout

How will participants benefit from attending this seminar?

  • Gain an understanding of Field theory and its application in psychotherapy
  • Learn about the shift from individual experience to a interconnected view of presenting issues
  • Lean to embrace complexity, messiness and chaos as a precursor to gaining clarity in a system
  • Gain an understanding of the relationship between meaning and context

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