Gestalt Training Institute of Philadelphia (GTIP) promotes people fully engaging with themselves and their worlds through emotional healing and authentic connection across the richness of our differences. GTIP offers a theoretical framework that models how to fully accept ourselves and others and how to create meaningful relational contact through our mind, body, and spirit. Gestalt Therapy Theory is offered through training programs, psychotherapy spaces, coaching, and intentional community building. We invite psychotherapists, lawyers, teachers, medical providers, and those working in the corporate and nonprofit sectors to engage in our programing.
GTIP is aware that regardless of our social location, we all live with the legacy of oppression that our country holds across race, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age and ability. Gestalt Therapy Theory offers us a way back despite this divisive culture – to ourselves and to each other, beyond the therapy office. GTIP strives to use the theory as a way to disrupt relational reenactments of power and oppression. Our commitment to diversity and equity as opposed to equality is manifest in our training and recruitment work.
GTIP's Journey Toward Racial Equity
Ijeoma Oluo implores, “White People: I Don’t Want You To Understand Me Better, I Want You to Understand Yourselves” (https://bit.ly/2Uoiboj). We at GTIP assimilated that message and began our own journey toward racial equity in February 2017. We took a long, hard, and often painful look at ourselves. Of the many things we are learning, one is that if we really want to diversify our training program, we must diversify our board, our faculty, and our community.
Gestalt Therapy theory has much to teach us about the importance of equality and equity; as well as how to own and address implicit bias and aversive racism. Concepts and skills learned from Gestalt Therapy theory are vital at a time when across the U.S. white cultural beliefs and values continue to dominate our institutions and the lives of people of color continue to be at risk due to structural disparities. How can we challenge these inequities?
At GTIP, we are engaging in work to examine this question and to create an inclusive environment for personal and professional learning and growth that is welcoming and equitable for anyone who wants to learn and grow from Gestalt Therapy theory.
We recently sponsored Ethical Considerations in the Field: A Gestalt Therapy Approach to Discussing Race. Alison Gerig ('08) and Jennifer Jones ('08 and faculty member) explored what kinds of ethical dilemmas emerge when we do or do not ask questions, and when we remain curious about our own and our clients’ social locations. More specifically, how do such conversations, or silences, impact our ability to have moments of mutuality with our clients?
In June, we sponsored a workshop by Sarah Halley and Pamela Freeman (1987 GTIP grad and Supervisor) and Playback for Change Theatre Company: Standing Up and Speaking Out: Stories of Oppression, Resistance and Hope. Audience members courageously told their stories to the conductor. The actors performed a visual expression and interpretation of the storyteller's memory, along with their feelings of helplessness, sadness and disappointment, or anger. Audience discussion followed helping people to connect to each other through our humanity.
In July, we held a one-day Faculty Retreat to enhance and enrich our curriculum. At the end of the retreat, the faculty recommitted to continue deepening our knowledge and skills in leading discussions about diversity and addressing group process.
The curriculum retreat is only one way that we are working to fulfill our commitment to create a richly diverse and equitable Institute and community. The faculty made substantial financial contributions this year that enables the Institute to provide tuition assistance to those in need of support, with a focus on people currently under-represented at GTIP. In addition, their pledge, and that of the Board of Directors, has made possible the diversity in this year’s class.
We can’t stop here. To continue, we need your support. Please consider joining us in this effort. Your donation helps provide financial support for next year’s class, as well as current and future workshops and trainings for the community in equity, diversity and inclusion.
All of us at GTIP