What is NGV?
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.
People usually come to gestalt when they have problems, whether ‘mental health’, or organisational. However there is growing awareness following from climate crisis and the Black Lives Matter movement, that the ‘normal’ state of affairs is not okay. It is not enough that we only pick up “problems” when the world is on a course to destruction – economic activity puts us on a collision course with the planet, political divisions between right and left prevent us from connecting as humans, and privilege restricts those who are able to live their lives without fear.
To work only with the parts of the system that are broken isn’t enough any more.
As gestalt practitioners we need to be working with those whose actions have most capacity to avert catastrophe – business leaders, politicians, the media, and professional leaders in various fields. Also there needs to be work with communities to underpin the massive ‘re-sensitisation’ that needs to happen to deliver changes in consumer behaviours. Following the Covid pandemic, we can’t simply go back and collude with an economic system that is wrecking our planet and is supporting significant inequalities and oppression.
We need to be bringing the insights of gestalt and related psychologically informed approaches to business, political and community spaces where they have most capacity to make a difference.
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.