The core orientation of our work stems from Gestalt Theory, a highly complex, holistic and optimistic way of understanding human functioning. The theory of Gestalt may best be expressed as a living philosophy and a philosophy for living rather than a method of intervention.
Some essential components include:
Gestalt assumes an underlying push towards wholeness, unity and completeness. From this perspective, our interest is in supporting the well-being of the individual, group or organization by identifying the possibilities for growth and uncovering the patterns that keep them from reaching their potential. We focus on the whole not the parts: mind, body and spirit are all seen as part of the whole individual; individuals, teams, divisions, departments are all seen as part of the whole organization. Social, political, physical, intellectual and spiritual aspects of all systems are intertwined. While we may ultimately choose to focus our intervention on one of the parts, we always keep the whole in mind.
A core Gestalt concept is that everyone is born whole and full of possibilities. The adjustments that an individual or organization makes in response to change and challenge are always an effort to do the best that they can given their perceptions. We have a profound respect for the individuals and organizations we work with. In our consulting and coaching, we have found that focusing on strengths and competencies releases energy that enhances people’s creativity, liveliness, relationships, and capacity to experiment with new behaviors.
While strategic thinking and action are essential skills for an individual or organization, Gestalt theory emphasizes the equal importance of relational capacity. A powerful leader knows when to enhance connectedness and mutuality as goals in their own right and when, and how, to use influence to accomplish a task. We believe that both strategic and relational abilities are essential for building strong, cohesive, efficient organizations. When we work with our clients, we look to see if the system is out of balance, depending primarily on one form of interaction over the other. By raising awareness of the imbalance and joining clients in generating alternative choices, we help develop the less developed side.
Gestalt theory holds that awareness in and of itself is the first step in change (Nevis, 1987). The more an individual or organization knows about a situation and the thoughts, feelings, perceptions and choices that created the situation, the more possibilities there are for different solutions. We use observation and feedback as a way to stimulate curiosity. In naming what we “notice” about the interactions, thoughts, and behaviors of our clients, we encourage them to notice more about themselves. Together we build a picture of the patterns that drive towards, or stand in the way of, desired outcomes.
At each moment we are in a process of evolving from who we have been to who we are becoming. Our work uses an experiential, dialogical and integrative approach to self-discovery and personal growth. Through compassionate understanding, confirmation of each person’s uniqueness, attention to present-moment experience and heightened awareness, we can complete what is unfinished from the past and give way to our emerging creative selves. Understanding how processes can function to sustain disruptive patterns, as well as challenging and supporting the possibilities for creative problem-solving, leads to deliberate actions that transform relationships between people, and between people and organizations.
Our experiential process encourages exploration through dialogue and the use of creative experimentation. We seek to raise a client’s awareness as to their options, rather than imposing answers upon them. In other words, we support people in making better choices for themselves and challenge them to take full responsibility for doing so.
Consistent with the inherent values underlying the theory of Gestalt, we seek to explore transformative approaches to change. This involves the integration of personal and professional growth. We are committed to a philosophy that appreciates the creative energy and diverse ideas of each person or organization and the possibilities that can arise from incorporating them.