Experiment in Progress
Given the stressors on young people recently as consequences of national lockdowns as well as the wider impact of currents like climate change and Black Lives Matter, NGV is exploring the potential for trialling application of gestalt as part of the school curriculum.
Over the next few weeks we will be talking to school head teachers, commissioners of education services, and those responsible for health and social support of children. We are in the process of reaching out to those within the gestalt world with experience of working with children.
We may bring together an exploratory paper with ideas for how we could take this forwards, or we might invite those interested to form part of an ongoing zoom community with a view to developing, finding funding for and trailing a gestalt component in a school or schools that are supportive.
If you would like to be part of this, or if you could contribute in other ways – perhaps linking us with people you know who could support this please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following is a version of the letter we are sending to potential stakeholders. Please feel free to use it in approaching anyone you know.
“I am writing on behalf of a kind of social movement (Newgestaltvoices.org) committed to exploring applications of gestalt (an approach to fostering good emotional contact) beyond the therapy domain. The word ‘gestalt’ isn’t always helpful, because people don’t usually know what it means!! The approach however – as practiced in groups for example – is elegant, and helps to ground contact and communication in experiential (phenomenological) data. It can be radically affirming of people who have had their right to be in the world in some way invalidated – unfortunately too many of us.
My colleagues and I want to do our bit to address the various deficits in support for people that contribute to the social divisions and related problems that all our societies are facing. NGV’s approach is experimental and we like to play with the art of the possible – if something looks a good idea, let’s find a way to do it, and then learn what works and hopefully support others to run with similar opportunities.
In this vein, we are exploring the possibilities of introducing some kind of gestalt component into schools. This could be via gestalt based support or practice group, for teachers…. Or it could be via a gestalt teaching component embedded within the curriculum – or as an after school adjunct possibly focussing on children most in need – although I wouldn’t suggest it’s used only with kids on the margins as this misses the point of supporting contact across difference. There may be applications that could be supported more within the health sphere also – however the appeal of something school based is that it potentially mainstreams the esteeming of emotional and social skills.
I have worked a fair bit in the UK voluntary sector and with local authorities, but I am not an expert in the school system, nor in work with young people – so I would be receptive to your insights and ideas as to what might work, or what might be a possible starting point. I can imagine that given the commitment and passion there is within the gestalt community, were we to come up with a form of intervention, NGV could potentially muster the personnel required to deliver for free or low cost for a given time – or we might end up approaching a funder with an idea.
I am sure your time is very precious at the moment, and I will defer to your expertise as to whether there might be any mileage in the above. If you see possibilities I would be open to whatever way feels best for you to engage … an exploratory call with myself, or you might have useful suggestions for a way forwards. If there is sufficient interest I can imagine bringing a small group of multi-disciplinary colleagues together to scope something in more detail.
I appreciate your time, and I am grateful for any responses you have.