18 Month Learning Programme

Be part of NGV’s Flagship 18 Month Learning Programme

Reaching for Belonging in a Broken World

We want to encourage a gestalt practice that’s active in our world – one that is grounded in contact and dialogue and in engaging with difference so that dynamics of power and oppression become constructs to be engaged with not polarised in the world.

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We are increasingly fragmented, often isolated and risk feeling like we don’t belong, are defective or are being judged in response to world events that increasingly show up the difficult state the world is in – Covid, social justice, BLM, Me Too, FGM, Climate change. The underlying problems can easily polarise us into those who are angry, excluded and champion the need for change, and others who can feel silenced, shamed and made ‘wrong’. Instead of coming together around our common hurts and care for each other, we become factioned, and our capacity to meet each other feels elusive. We can lose hope….

So where is the place for each of us, and how can we meet across our differences, different social positions and different experiences of living in the here and now? How safe (or not) do we feel to talk about our individual phenomena? And what changes do we think might be needed to respond to current global narratives like those around climate change and inequality.

We envision this as a programme that foregrounds our personal processes in response to the state of the world we find ourselves in and the world we will leave for our children. How can we come to terms with what is? Where is the place for our activism and our want to change?

In line with gestalt theory we want to draw out consequences of the ontological dualism that has penetrated social sciences and public discourse since the enlightenment and how it’s legacy creates polarities between justice and injustice, oppressed and oppressors, etc.  Rather we encourage throughout the programme an active, perceptive and practical engagement with the components of the lived world in a web of reciprocal identification – a total i m m e r s i o n !, if you like.

In our programme we will bring theory as well as contributions from those actively working in spheres of social change, yet our focus will be  experiential learning/development through dialoging and group process.

Amongst other things this is a supported place to:

  • Explore themes of difference and belonging that arise in being part of a group, community, society, planet.
  • Create the conditions to support ourselves to stay at the contact boundary with unpleasant feelings (anger, anxiety, fear, guilt, shame, sadness) that stop us from being present and opening to ourselves and others.
  • Explore what happens when we experience racism, inequality, oppression and climate denial, or ‘vengeful’ advocacy of ‘social justice’ – explore and stay with processes around projective identification, i.e. identifying with the other’s projections of us. Explore our capacity to denigrate, other, reject, withdraw from the other …. Can I do this and still remain in contact and meet the other.
  • Explore how we engage in polarisation and demonising the other for having a different opinion to mine. Learn how to stay with this experience fully, before moving on to the “next”.
  • To explore how to meet the other by being able to stay with what is at the contact boundary (paradoxical theory of change) and learn to be present in all this difficulty so that I keep myself interested in the other’s experience.
  • To help us navigate some of the pain and difficulties in our relationships (including trauma and nervous system activation) that can come to the fore when we make social inequalities, climate change, and the need for some renovation of our democratic institutions, foreground rather than background.
  • Learn to see our personal process in connection with the larger planetary and social wholes. Developing an intuitive felt understanding of how our process ripples out, touching others.

This programme is an online experiment in a mix of structured learning, personal process and group development.

We will

  • Meet as a whole group 10 times for 1 day over 18 months. (50 direct learning hours)
  • Dialogue with a mix of presenters/contributors – gestalt and non-gestalt; individuals who bring different lenses on social issues – from different ends of the political spectrum, different perspectives on key issues like climate change etc.
  • Encourage smaller ‘process’ groups to meet monthly.
  • Explore gestalt theory and intersections with other bodies of thought such as sociology, political theory, philosophy, theology/religion/spirituality.

The programme is for those with some experience of gestalt – or who have experienced some therapy or background in other self-development work.

The programme runs Jan 2021 – June 2022:

(running times will work for Europe and the US / if there is sufficient interest from Australia/NZ/East Asia we will explore running a parallel track making a live learning environment available to you)

Ordering of topics may vary somewhat from the below programme:

16th Jan 2021 – ‘Belonging in a Broken World’, a primer – Social justice and unravelling social justice / an introduction to the programme approach

13th March 2021 – Using our bodies to support contact and dialogue in relation to social issues.

24th April 2021 – Unpacking the dynamics of power, privilege, oppression.

12th June 2021 – Personal identity and how we relate to political structures and systems – like democracy, nation and our institutions.

11th Sept 2021 – Reimagining capitalism – and business as a force for good & inviting dialogue rather than stand-off across the political spectrum.

13th Nov 2021 – Approaches to change, and working with complexity. Dialoguing with other perspectives and lenses on the process of social change and spiritual awakening.

15th Jan 2022 – Gender – transgender – and leadership beyond patriarchy. Inviting the feminine. How to be men, and what might it mean to undercut the gender binary?

26th Feb 2022– Decolonising ourselves, Listening to the voice of the indigenous.

16th April 2022 – Healing the personal/political split – how we are forces for change, and how our change can become the ‘new’ world.

18th June 2022 –  tbc.

We regard this programme as key to NGV’s aspirations to develop a gestalt practice fit for the challenges of our times through living it together, and by including that which may not be directly present – the planet’s fauna and flora for example – as well as that which is present but so obvious that it is overlooked, which is the case with privilege.

(Max 24 places)

Cost £1100 UK [can be paid over 18 months – and 6 subsidised/free places available] [Programme Faculty: Bernadette Latuch, Kamila Bialy, Toni Clarkson, Badr Hajjani, Yosel Mouzo, John Gillespie.]

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