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“The various injustices we experience within society affect us ALL profoundly. Whether we are the apparent winners or losers of the current situation, so long as we are in the position of oppressing an “other” (even without awareness) – then we are out of touch with ourselves. Gestalt facilitated work seeks to re-sensitise us to our various areas of disconnect. Hence we approach the issue of injustice on a different level from one that first seeks to identify those afflicted, and then to improve their situation. We intervene at the level that supports human connection, on the understanding that when we can look another in the eye and see the person, then we will not be able to oppress them.” (John Gillespie, NGV Founder & Director)
NGV is an international not-for-profit organisation, committed to widening participation and exploring new ways of building community via application of gestalt and aligned disciplines across a number of domains – therapy, education, health, organisational/ business, community, and government/political.
We offer a test bed for innovation with a view to supporting application of gestalt to social justice, environmental and political challenges facing humanity.
“I am a trainee craving diverse, critical and radical discussion of what we do now with gestalt, and how it can extend and honour and at times break with what has come before. I feel this balance of devotion and criticality in your work and I am touched and inspired by it. I want to be close to this way of working that you are cultivating”
Contribution of Gestalt
“Gestalt” is a socially radical philosophy that puts human ‘aliveness’ at its core. In German, the word “Gestalt” means “whole”. So the wellbeing of the individual is inextricably linked to the wellbeing of all.This leads US anarchist Paul Goodman, one of gestalt’s founders, to write “no one can be completely happy, until we are all happy more generally” (Perls et al. 1951).
According to gestalt it is not possible that I can change without my environment also changing. This justifies the social radicalism of gestalt therapy and organisational work. By working with individuals and in organisational settings, gestaltists all over the world are contributing to wider social change.
NGV offers a test bed for innovation with a view to supporting applications of gestalt in relation to social justice, environmental and political challenges – what Paul Goodman, one of gestalt’s founders, called “social-therapy”.
We do not see NGV as doing it all ourselves. We act as a network – or convenor of ‘worknets’ (Bruno Latour) – first phase mover, incubator and ultimately support for others to enter into new areas. We will continue to support anyone who comes to us to innovate – commissioner, organisation, team or individual.
The NGV approach esteems development at the group/community/systemic level. We turn our attention to the wider systems, including structures of power, influence and oppression (such as racism), against which much traditional change work proceeds.