Annie Garrety in Chile, The Path Unfolds as I Fly
SYSTEMATIC CURIOSITY This time my flight path was to the Fourth International conference on Psychotherapy Research in Chile Santiago 29 May – 1 June 2019.
“Research is just systematic curiosity” were the inspiring words of Jan Roubal from Masary University in Czech Republic. Single case time series (SCTS) was the preferred methodology in the major research work presented. Pablo Herrera, Madeleine Fogarty, Gianni Francesetti, Jan Roubal, Marina Schnake and others presented the results of these single cases with varying degrees of statistical quantitative and qualitative data. I personally got to share the experience of being a researcher using SCTS with Madeleine Fogarty in my fourth year at GTB. This gave me the opportunity to speak to the benefits for both client and student therapist of conducting practice based research.
Although a great motivation for research is empirical validation in an environment of evidence based practice, there is also excitement around reflective practice on what works well and why in micro and macro change processes. Retrospective Questionnaire was the qualitative tool Roubal and Francesetti used in their single case studies. Data on what the client saw as moments of turning points in therapy were collected alongside data of unexpected changes in functionality at various intervals after the therapy.
Gestalt therapy research is in a hopeful phase of reaching out to connect to the wider field of global psychotherapy research. The Society for Psychotherapy Research members, Marianne Krause and Claire Hill, graced us with advanced presentations of their internationally acclaimed work in change processes. Madeleine Fogarty and Jan Roubal are two Gestalt Therapists published in the global psychotherapy research journal as well as in gestalt journals gaining notoriety and respect in the psychotherapy research world beyond Gestalt.
There was a strong women’s presence at all the symposiums bringing a collaborative collective vision to the present and future development of gestalt approaches in the clinic and in social structures.
Gestaltresearch.org is a new site opened only 2 months ago. It is a database for gestalt therapy research which was created through funding from the Spanish and Polish gestalt associations by David Picò. EAGT will now fund the ongoing costs to maintain and grow this valuable site.
Coming together with Latin America for this conference created connections of cross cultural appreciation of the depth of each other’s drive to systematically be curious and share our curiosity along with our human desire to alleviate suffering. With days of simultaneous translations still ringing in my ears, I am glowing with new connections to young Brazilian and Peruvian researchers through our shared humanity.
Miriam Munitz from Mexico gave parting words to us never to forget that rather than a medical model gestalt is a teaching model. We must dare to be phenomenological, leave behind the cause and effect model, and listen to the call for development inherent in dysfunction: a call that is sounded within the clinic and beyond.
Gianni Francesetti reminded us that therapy is not a chance to change the client but to understand that the suffering is an emergent field phenomena and the therapeutic moment a chance to answer differently. The ways suffering appears in our relationships are dynamics of the fields that are emerging and we as therapists are instruments of the field.
Finally, connecting practice to research to theory is an eternal triangle of awareness vital to gestalt therapy to keep it relevant and effective in the here and now. Gestalt as both as an approach in psychotherapy and a social approach is highly relevant to a complex changing world which requires not only a flexible creative adjustment for clear figures to effectively nourish us, but also an embodied experiential grounding from which true aesthetic figures can coherently rise.
First photo: Annie with Stella Resnick.
Second photo: Annie with Christine Stevens, BGJ editor.