Gestalt in my Life and Practice

NOTE: This first appeared on the Gestalt Institute of the Rockies website.

How do I tease out how Gestalt is presented in my life and practice? That is a really difficult question to answer. I have become integrated through Gestalt training and Gestalt is integrated into my work in the world and my personal life as well. There is no separation: Gestalt is my way of being, not doing.

My journey into Gestalt began in 2001 during my Spiritual Psychology MA program at the University of Santa Monica. The technique we used was ‘empty chair’. Three chairs set up for counselor, client and whoever showed up in the process. Giving those parts of my consciousness a voice was my first experience into the body of knowledge and creative adjustment.  My curiosity about what else Gestalt could offer eventually led to certifications in Gestalt Therapy (Gestalt Institute of the Rockies-GIR) and Gestalt-equine Therapy (Gestalt-Equine Institute of the Rockies-GEIR).

I found myself come alive through the experiential processes and raw inner work to learn the concepts and various ways making contact with myself and others. The cycle of experience was truly made evident when Duane Mullner would tell us that if you need to use the bathroom during a session, go. I was invited to be in contact with my bladder functions, my emotions, and my creativity so often stunted by fear and judgment. I learned that my breath and body are my means of grounding and returning to self.

I found my love of learning turned on by the various books, articles, and discourses about Gestalt and its place in healthcare, education, and coaching. I have over 100 books about Gestalt Therapy, Gestalt in related fields and many other books that stir and support my creative process.

Along with my Doctorate in Nursing (ND) and as a Registered Nurse (RN), I have integrated my Gestalt training as the Patient & Family Education Coordinator at Craig Hospital in Denver, as Associate Professor in Nursing at Colorado Mesa University, Grand Junction and most importantly in my work as professional coach, workshop facilitator and speaker. My book of memoir stories: Spoke by Spoke: How a Broken Back and a Broken Bike Led to a Wholehearted Life will be published by end of ’21. The healing, growth processes of Gestalt are evident in many of my stories. Check it out!

Additional training and certifications in Equine-Facilitated Learning (Human-Equine Relational Development, HERD, INC), equipped me to partner with the horse in facilitating group retreats for educators, caregivers, and healthcare providers. I combine the EFL with a creative arts process using the Mandala to help make the invisible, visible

My own personal work with the horses took me another level of awareness and presence. Through my GEIR trainings and subsequent supervision sessions, the horses held me in my anger and assisted in healing those parts of so much hurt. I continue to ride horses weekly and keep that relationship-based learning going even into my eldering years.

You may be wondering, well what does Gestalt work look like? At a basic level, it is about my presence, acute awareness, my availability, and response to others in the moment. I focus my work on assisting my patients, clients, and students in awakening to who they are. My work is direct, loving and to the point.

I realize and utilize my own Superpowers…I can create interactive, engaged sessions for all age groups. I make it mandatory that any class, session or training I am involved with …is FUN! Or I get bored and so do the others. And you might remember that boredom is a mis-use of creative energy!
My preferred method of group engagement is of course in a live, in-person setting. Yet with the pandemic restrictions of no or limited  physical contact, I pivoted to the Zoom platform I quickly learned ways to keep people in contact, engaged and laughing. I use these methods for group interaction, feedback and team building activity. My nursing students and I held Zoom wellness sessions for people with traumatic brain injury, elders, and foster family groups. I knew I could deliver in that on-line environment and my students learned as well…all while being engaged in the processes.

I experiment like crazy! I often never really know if something is gonna work. I trust that I will be able to respond if I stay grounded, in contact and breathe! Sounds like a Gestalt session, would you agree?

I have also remained in contact with my teachers, Duane Mullner, Duey Freeman and Victoria Story. They were my pillars of learning of Gestalt, they live it, they love it. They keep me grounded and share the essence of Gestalt in conversation, through supervision and modeling a life well-lived.

I encourage you to continue to delve into the endless possibility of Gestalt in your life and work. It’s really all about the living, the loving and the growth of a healthy human being.

I invite you to contact me directly for a conversation. I love to listen and hear about the creative process going on in your life too.