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Contemporary gestalt psychotherapy: The tensions between practitioner education and the current cultural context

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Patrick (Paddy) O’Regan

 

Abstract

The practice of gestalt therapy and the training of its practitioners have undergone significant change since the early 1950s. The culture they are situated in is also undergoing significant change. The main goal of this paper is to articulate the nature of contemporary gestalt therapy, the practice of gestalt professional education, and selected aspects of the contemporary cultural context within which they are situated. The central theme of the paper is the tension existing between the values of gestalt therapy and particular features of the culture, especially neoliberalism. This paper is drawn from a PhD project exploring how this tension is understood and managed in Australia and New Zealand. It sets the scene for a proposed later paper discussing detailed responses to these tensions. It is hoped this paper offers ground for psychotherapists, counsellors, and educators to reflect on their experiences and possible tensions.

 

Keywords: gestalt therapy, neoliberalism, counsellor training, psychotherapy, professional education, contemporary cultural context

 

Address for Correspondence
Patrick (Paddy) O’Regan

p.oregan@griffith.edu.au