Gestalt Therapy Brisbane puts learning at the centre of human life. Living, growing, developing and learning are inseparable phenomena.

Teaching is student-centered. Working in small groups and personalised sessions will support and enhance the learning process. Small study groups provide students with opportunities to integrate theoretical inputs and gain support with the integration of theory and practice.

Group work is central to the learning experience and intends to to develop a safe and trusting environment for learning and forming a community. Learning experiences are lead by staff of the Institute and guest leaders from interstate and overseas.

We have a theory that says that contact leads to growth, because contact, which is the process of living, is also the process of growing. There is no life without contact, and without contact there is no growth, and every moment of contact is growth or change. That is the is-ness of it.

L. Jacobs.

 

Rationale

The Master of Gestalt Therapy produces qualified Gestalt therapists, eligible for membership and registration with relevant professional associations.

The course educates students in specialised theoretical knowledge and methodology and in demonstrable ability to apply these in work as a therapist with individuals, groups, couples, families and in organisational settings and corporations. The teaching and learning methodology used to achieve this is guided by Gestalt therapy theory and practice and professional association requirements and as such is highly experiential and includes components of theory, clinical practice, clinical supervision and personal therapy.

The experiential teaching of Gestalt therapy complements is appropriate as the Master of Gestalt Therapy qualifies graduates to be Gestalt therapists. Undergraduate students are often exposed to the idea of Gestalt therapy but not to its implementation in practice. Neither are they taught the specific methodology and philosophies in depth.

Gestalt Therapy is widely accepted as part of general psychotherapeutic practice, and Gestalt methodology and many of its underlying philosophical principles are now incorporated into other modalities. Despite this recognition of the effectiveness of Gestalt therapy principles, there are few educational programmes devoted to the production of competent professionals who have been trained as Gestalt Therapists. The Master of Gestalt Therapy provides this education.

Teaching methodology

The Master of Gestalt Therapy incrementally develops student knowledge and understanding and ability to apply the knowledge and understanding in individual and group settings. It also engages students in an analysis, synthesis and evaluation of the theory and practice of Gestalt in itself and in comparison to other counselling and organisational modalities.

Developing therapy skills involves gaining clarity about a student’s personal process and how that may interfere with his or her therapy work. This process takes time, the course is therefore conducted over a minimum of four years, which is a psychotherapy professional requirement. This applies to all students, including students who have already qualified in other forms of therapy, or in psychology and social work, and no exemptions are given. The Master of Gestalt Therapy is provided in part-time intensive mode only.

The intensive mode involves:

  • monthly weekend tuition for each year cohort;
  • residentials attended by all year cohorts of the relevant campus;
  • clinical practice and supervision; and
  • personal therapy.

Students are also encouraged to engage in cohort study groups as part of their personal study.

The course requirements, and psychotherapy professional requirements are that students attend tuition in person for at least 90% of scheduled weekends and 90% of each residential. Attendance at tuition for specific subject content may be compulsory; students will be advised of this at the beginning of the relevant year of study.

Weekend tuition

Provision of tuition in weekends allows for the integration of theory and practice so that students can synthesis learnings with their own life reflections and insights and those of their cohort. This work can be highly personally challenging and needs to be undertaken in a forum that provides time and support from faculty.

The spacing of tuition, both between monthly weekends, as well as over the four years of the course, provide time in which personal learning can be integrated into management of the student’s own behaviour. This is, of course, particularly important to achieve for graduates who will be working in therapeutic settings.

Weekend course delivery mode facilitates attendance by students who work and students who do not reside in the city where the course is delivered to attend. The success of this design is evidenced by the fact that the Master of Gestalt always has significant enrolments of students in these situations.

Theoretical learning processes will include short didactic presentations with accompanying notes and bibliographical references, experiential exercises and group discussion/experiences.  Experiential learning processes support theoretical content in order to enable students to apply their knowledge gained.  Self-directed learning via reading and written assessment is used to build on students’ current knowledge that draws on a variety of professional and work settings.

Teaching and learning strategies focus on maximizing student participation in the learning experience and on providing the opportunity for reflective practice.

Practical learning processes will involve students listening, responding and intervening with cohort members and people beyond their cohort. Specific tasks will be presented which aim at staged integration of theoretical and practical learning.

Learning processes also involve students engaging in group processes. During these processes they will be encouraged to use the skills of counselling to engage with other group members, interact with the group members at a system level and make process observations that will influence the group direction.

Residentials

Each year of study includes 6 days of residential programme within semester 2. Residentials are held off-campus in a rural setting and involve all students of the relevant campus. They are an experiential program that complements and enhances the weekend tuition and learning experience with interactive applications of theory and practice. The extended live-in experience in a rural campus provides opportunity to deepen this work.

Learning occurs within year cohorts, mixed year cohorts and through activities involving the whole student body. Open explorative processes complement a schedule of planned experiential activities, seminars and discussions in which student experience is shared and explored with faculty support and supervision. Students have the opportunity to build awareness of their strengths and limitations as they may relate to their life and work with clients. Students also have opportunity to work through relational issues, including issues of conflict between one another.

The residential is a space for intense practice of the skills of the Gestalt therapist. This occurs within each of the year groups. Senior students in particular have the opportunity to practice, receive feedback and be assessed on their one-to-one therapy and group facilitation skills. This work is supported by faculty direction and supervision. The practice experience for senior students is enhanced by working with individuals and groups across the years of training. Important elements of the students’ assessment requirements are fulfilled at the residential.

In addition to the other learning, students in other years benefit from observing the work of their senior colleagues as well as faculty.

The residential programme is designed to provide a learning environment that is framed by contemporary Gestalt and adult learning principles and underpinned by the values of responsibility and community. It contributes to the building of a community of learners that in time will transition into the community of counselling and psychotherapy professionals.

Clinical practice and supervision

The Master of Gestalt Therapy builds student experience as a therapist over the four-year course:

  • Students commence by experiencing Gestalt therapy in individual and group settings in Year 1.
  • In Year 2 students commence the experience in the role of therapist within their year cohort and then move to working with clients in short sessions with faculty supervision via video.
  • In Year 3 students work with clients for one-hour sessions, under the close supervision of faculty both in direct supervision and in video supervision.
  • In Year 4 students commence practice in Semester 1 as a therapist over at least 8 sessions with one client and undertake professional supervision. Year 4 students then continue to work as a student therapist with supervision in Semester 2 undertaking at least 20 hours of clinical practice and 5 hours of supervision. Year 4 clinical practice provides a capstone experience in the application of student knowledge and skills in the practice of Gestalt therapy.

The clinical practice and supervision components of the course are subject to assessment and successful completion is essential for graduation. The set hours of practice and supervision meet psychotherapy professional requirements.

Personal therapy

Students are required to engage in one-to-one therapy, which is also a psychotherapy professional requirement. Therapy assists students to actively reflect on their learning experience and to address personal issues that have the potential to impact on their work with clients. Therapy is undertaken with an external therapist listed on the Gestalt Therapy Brisbane’s Therapist List.

Study Group

It is strongly recommended that students in Years 1-3 engage with other members of their cohort in study groups (for 30 hours per year). This group work provides further opportunity for students to practice and reflect on their learning. Study groups are arranged at times that suit small groups of students. A member of faculty visits study groups at least once.

Year 4 Literature Review and Individual Project

Students undertake a literature review in Year 4, with one-to-one academic writing supervision from a member of faculty, honing student skills in research within the field of psychotherapy to support their Gestalt therapy practice. Students undertake the literature review in an area of practice nominated by them. Students are then required to design and implement a project of their choice e.g. program writing, workshop, conference paper, journal article, in which their knowledge of Gestalt therapy is further explored. The literature review and individual project provide students with a capstone experience in the application of knowledge of Gestalt therapy.

Experiential Learning at the 2009 Residential