SCHOOL OF GESTALT AND EXPERIENTIAL
The ability to create and teach through experiential structures is the goal
of the training offered by the School of Gestalt and Experiential Teaching,
which combines the principles of western theatre, group process, and gestalt
Most people go through life without being fully conscious of their own experience,
unaware of what is happening either within them or around them. Gestalt process
brings awareness to experience, thereby deepening it by making the emotional
content accessible. This greater awareness and emotional deepening are the
first steps toward becoming an experiential teacher.
An experiential teacher must also have the creativity to structure an experience
out of his or her own sources, the courage to address a group of people, and
the authority to guide them through that experience. People learn best through
experience. You can share your experience or knowledge by talking about it.
However, creating a structure through which others can have their own experience
of the content you wish to communicate is a far more effective mode of teaching.
People contact each other more deeply through the medium of a shared event.
To create such an event, however, requires that the teacher examine his or
her own experience to discover its universal value and distill that into a
The School of Gestalt and Experiential Teaching is, at the same time, a spiritual
discipline, a school in which to learn psychological process, and a professional
training in a specific approach to education. In order to be an experiential
teacher, students have to go through a process of personal growth as well as
learn a technique. Spiritual discipline places the learning in a transpersonal
context. True education is always a process of growing, and with growth comes
a healing of that which is incomplete. However, the goal of the program is
not only to heal the self, but to train teachers.
The Assistantship program offers trainees experience in working with groups as
well as the opportunity to gain permission to animate the workshop structures
that (s)he has attended and assisted. The program includes four levels of assistance:
Level 1.) Assisting by taking charge of the physical
plant: making sure that the room is in order, taking responsibility for doing
any sort of room decoration or preparation, and providing the group with whatever
it needs on the physical and material level, from kleenex in time of emotional
process, to creating the throne for the heroic presentations in The Hero's
Level 2.) Taking on some responsibility for
small groups: not necessarily leading them, but acting as the point of
reference for the subgroups, keeping them to the point, helping if there
are problems; only at times taking over as the leader.
Level 3.) If a trainee feels ready and I believe
that (s)he is capable of acting as therapist to those members of the group
who need individual therapeutic help, Level Three is to take charge of
any therapeutic work that needs to be done and that is not taken care of
by the process--primarily, to help people who become overwhelmed by their
own process and cannot continue with the group work without doing some
individual process to get them through some resistance or personal problem.
If there are Gestalt working groups, this level assistant can also act
as therapist or leader of the subgroups.
Level 4.) Again, if the trainee and I agree that (s)he is ready to do
so, at this level the assistant can animate some of the processes for the whole
group and receive supervision for doing so. All four levels can happen simultaneously
in one workshop if the assistant has had sufficient training.
Supervision sessions are held during and after the workshops,
both to give instruction in the theoretical basis for the structure
as well as supervisory critique
of the assistants' work in the structure. In these sessions, student-assistants
may also express any disagreements or questions they may have concerning my
leadership of the group. These questions and/or disagreements should not be
expressed during the group process, so as not to create confusion or lack of
confidence in the participants. When the student has passed through the four
levels and I feel that (s)he is capable of doing so, (s)he will be given the
right to animate the
workshop structures that (s)he has attended and assisted.