Plenary Descriptions

Plenary 1 / Friday 25th August
9.45 am – 11.00 am

The Aesthetics of Care
with Claire Taubert and Tony Jackson

This is the first plenary event of this conference, and will serve as an introduction to the theme The Aesthetics of Care. After opening with a reflection about Aesthetics as a sensual re-energizing of the role of perception and phenomenology in gestalt practice, the focus will shift to explore the paradoxically simple and complex idea of Care in psychotherapy.

The focus of this plenary is to begin an exploration of the concept of Care — is Care related to the humanitarian exercise of compassion and empathy? If so, and caring relates to these affective intentions, then we need to consider how we learn to care and whether all acts of caring are the same phenomenon.

We will also explore how and what we learn about care emerges from our own developmental history of being cared for. Thus caring about the other implies that the phenomena of caring is inextricably bi-directional in its aesthetic form.

Thinking about care in the therapeutic relationship we will also address the idea that care is often informed by explicit expression, but its shape and feel are expressed in the implicit dialogic realm. Does the act of caring constitutes the intentionality of the therapeutic relationship, or does the therapeutic dyad inform the act of care?

This session will also include an opportunity for some interaction with others, with supported inquiry processes across the morning.

Claire Taubert
BBSc, BSc, Bed(Counselling) MAPS. GANZ (Clin.)

ClaireClaire is the Co-founder and past Managing Director of Gestalt Therapy Australia (GTA) and has an ongoing relationship as associate faculty. She has been involved in the Gestalt community as a student, trainer, therapist, supervisor, mentor and member of the GANZ council for over 30 years. She was originally trained in Melbourne, UK and San Diego and has furthered her interests in relational Gestalt with an ongoing training and relationship with the Pacific Gestalt Institute (USA) where she is an associate faculty member. More recently Claire has furthered her interests in relational paradigms with study in early infant development research and attachment theory and its application in adult treatment. Her interests in developmental phenomena extends to the training, supervising and mentoring of therapists in the craft of a fallible understanding of the profoundly complex therapeutic dyad and group.

Claire runs a private practice in Melbourne and Ballarat where she works as a relationally orientated psychotherapist and psychologist.

Tony Jackson
BTheol, BA (Psych), GradDipCouns, AdvDipGestaltTherapy, MGANZ

TonyTony is a Managing Director of Gestalt Therapy Australia and member of the teaching faculty there. He is a psychotherapist in private practice and works with individuals, couples, and groups and offers supervision.

As a trainer of undergraduate counsellors and gestalt psychotherapists for over ten years, Tony has spent most of this teaching career focused on creating learning environments that support the early stages of the journey to become a therapist. He has a passion for gestalt theory, and its ongoing development, as a source of inspiration for responsive, ethical, heartfelt and holistic psychotherapy.

As a psychotherapist Tony works with individuals who come from diverse backgrounds and needs. He is interested in exploring with them the ways that they understand themselves as always contextual, and how attending to the client’s interactions and relational patterns can support them in developing a greater sense of vitality and choice in life.

Plenary 2 / Friday 25th August
2.00 pm – 2.45 pm

The Ethics of Care
with Susanna (Zan) Goodrich and Ashleigh Power

This plenary event will see the community re-gather after the spending time at workshops and lunch. Ashleigh and Susanna will return our attention to the conference theme The Aesthetics of Care, to pick up the crucial ethical dimensions of care.

In this brief, interactive session, Ashleigh and Zan propose a “salon style” conversation around the aesthetics of care of the therapist. How do we care for ourselves in our work with our clients? What might that “care” look like, from one therapist to another? Who are the stakeholders in whether, and how, we care for ourselves?

Ashleigh and Zan have looked to the ideas of Miriam Taylor, Donna Orange and Michael Carroll and Elisabeth Shaw for some inspiration, and their own Creative, Attuned, Relational and Experiential resources for the rest!

This session will support a lively interaction with others and then we will be sent out into smaller groups for the rest of the day.

Susanna Goodrich
B.Ec.L.L.B,  Grad.Dip (GestaltTherapy), Master of Gestalt Therapy

ZanZan is an educator, supervisor and clinical practitioner in private practice. She has been teaching gestalt therapy for 12 years, currently at The Relational Institute and ACAP.  She has a keen interest in interpersonal neurobiology, developmental perspectives and their relevance to the practice, supervision and teaching of psychotherapy. Her clinical work is grounded in the principles of gestalt therapy and the relational approach. She is a PACFA member, PACFA Accredited Supervisor and GANZ Clinical Member.

Ashleigh Power (MGT) PACFA registered therapist and supervisor.

AshleighAshleigh has 25 years experience as a counsellor and Gestalt Therapist, working with individuals and groups. She has also completed further studies in Somatic therapy and completed her Masters in The Body in Gestalt Therapy.  She is the Founding Director of Gestalt Therapy Sydney and Co-Founder of The Relational Institute Australia.

Plenary 3 / Saturday 26th August
9.00am – 1.00pm

Care of the Gestalt Community / A Community Consultation
with The GANZ Council and Sally Denham-Vaughan

This is a pivotal event of the 2017 conference….

Last year at the GANZ conference in Canberra it was decided that the gestalt community needed to gather again as soon as possible to continue the conversations about the future of gestalt in Australia and New Zealand.  Enthusiasm for the conversation saw a full council elected and energetic support for this conference in Melbourne in 2017.

The thinking behind this time together is connected to supporting an emergent vitality of the gestalt community and is designed to foster leadership at many different levels of our field.  The session will be interactive and consultative, and will shape the future of gestalt practice in our region.

Sally Denham-Vaughan will join the GANZ council to address the theme of the conference exploring the Aesthetics of Care as it pertains to community – highlighting the centrality of presence with passion and purpose and asking how each of us can bring ourselves into community and help build it?

This session will also include the GANZ AGM.


The GANZ Council as elected at the 2016 AGM in Canberra

SallyDr Sally Denham-Vaughan is an Organisational Consultant, Accredited Coach/Coach Supervisor, International Trainer, Psychotherapist and Supervisor. She has a background in Clinical Psychology and Gestalt Psychotherapy with over 25 years experience in senior leadership positions in the NHS in the UK. She now specialises in Relational Leadership Development, Organisational/Community Transformation and Change and Governance/Ethical Frameworks.

Recently her consulting work has focussed on large-scale culture change programmes with global organisations committed to ethical, ecological and sustainable developments. She also works as an executive coach with CEO and Board members of purpose driven organisations.

She is the Co-Founder of Relational Change, an International Organisation specialising in developing Relational Approaches in theory and practice, International Board Advisor at The Relational Center in Los Angeles, Academic Advisor on the Doctoral programme at Metanoia/Middlesex University in London, International Faculty Associate at the Pacific Gestalt Institute in California and an Associate with the Taos Institute

Sally’s work is grounded in a passion for ecology and co-emergence that she supports by regular long walks with her dog.

Plenary 4 / Saturday 26th August
2.00 pm – 2.45 pm

Care For Community / Every Story is Us
with Gabe Phillips

At this conference, the focus on Care for Community is meaningfully placed between Care for Self and Care of Others. Our societies and communities exist and are expressed at the self/other boundary. This is our gestalt theory and it reflects our ordinary everyday experiential truth.

In this plenary, I will plot the tides of our times and illustrate what happens to our societies and communities when we drift too far into care for self or too far into care of others.

As we examine this predictable and weary dialectic, ascendant orthodoxies seem merely shadows of those that are on the wane and vice versa. We need a paradigm shift; another aesthetic!

For a new perspective, I will reach beyond our familiar ways of perceiving reality – duality and non-duality – to offer another lens – the view of totality.

To add heart to the venture I will reconceptualise care as presence; less like a bi-directional transaction and more like a dynamic ocean current.

I will propose that gestalt could have more to say on the community care challenges of our times were it not for our self-limiting ways.

To enliven our unique and shared stories I will offer a mini-experiment – an intimate, personal and immediate conversation – to help us re-experience a less mediated, less filtered connection to our gestalt origins; the source of our initial inspiration and the fuel for our unfolding transformation.

Expressing ourselves and contacting each other from this embodied and relational space may help us as a community of diverse gestalt practitioners to realise our potential, and more meaningfully use our ideas to contribute to the realisation and freedom of other societies and communities.

Gabe Phillips
DipTeach, BEd, BA, GradDipAppliedPsych, MPsych, PhD, FMGANZ, MAPS

GabeGabe works in his private practice, Lifespace Consulting. His psychotherapeutic practice is informed by gestalt, Interpersonal Neurobiology (IPNB), mindfulness, psychodynamic and Diamond Approach ideas and practices. Gabe’s area of special interest is working with same-sex attracted people to develop happy intimate relationships, accepting (and accepted) positive identities, and better mental health (and human rights) outcomes.

Gabe is Co-Founder and a former Managing Director of Gestalt Therapy Australia (GTA 1995-2009). He is on the Editorial Board of the British Gestalt Journal and is an elected Fellow Member of GANZ. Gabe served on the GANZ Council, in a range of positions, from its inception in 1998 until 2010. He commenced his study in gestalt 30 years ago this year and is a graduate of the Gestalt Institute of Melbourne and the Gestalt Training Center of San Diego.

Gabe is an ongoing student of the Diamond Approach to Self-Realisation (A.H. Almaas) and a member of the Ridhwan School since 2000. He is actively engaged with integrating psychological and spiritual perspectives of reality into his understanding of human experience and psychotherapeutic practice.

Plenary 5 / Sunday 27th August
9.00am – 10.30am

Care for Others
with Brenda Levien, Dave Mutton and Greer White

On this the final day of the conference, our focus will change again and we will explore The Aesthetics of Care as it pertains to our clinical work.  Three very experienced (dare I say ‘gestalt elders’) will speak to different aspects of theme – caring for others.

This session will be conducted as a panel style conversation and will include opportunities to reflect and interact with the broader gathered community.

In this session we will look at some experiences of care: care for, compassion, attending to, sensitivity, support, concern, treatment, duty of care, love and cherishing and caring for those who are difficult to care for.

Brenda:  The Art of Care and Compassion in the Therapeutic Relationship and Beyond

While discussing aesthetics recently a friend said, “Isn’t that about the elegance of a thing?”  Yes, it is and in its archaic meaning it is to do with all our senses.  Indeed, it is the art and elegance of the therapeutic relationship.

My approach in this presentation will be primarily a broad clinical one from a personal perspective.  I will consider the nature of care and compassion in the therapeutic relationship alongside the wider context in which the relationship is situated.

We are living in a time of great complexity and rapid change; these complications influence us, and the people who seek our help.  Such are the intricacies that enter the room.  How do we take this wider context into consideration in our work and ensure that we are inclusive in this two-way relationship? I will invite you to consider this and be thoughtful about how you care for yourself in this work.

We will explore how and where we first learnt about care, being cared for and caring about and for others. Do you attend to your colleagues or your profession with a similar sense of compassion, understanding and commitment?

I will use clinical examples and pose some challenging questions.

Dave: The Relational Field Of The Therapeutic Relationship

I didn’t always practice as a psychotherapist in a room with one person at a time. Sometimes I have worked in and with whole communities. And though I practice in a psychotherapeutic context as an identifiable, embodied individual I do not undertake this work alone. I am supported by those who have gone before me and those around me. What I am able to contribute to the lives of others is continually shaped by what I have received, and this includes that which my clients ‘gift’ me. Of course whilst I might be reminded everyday of how connected and sustained my life is, I cannot fail to see how profoundly dislocated, isolated and alone so many of us are in this constantly commodified, migrating, changing and complex world.

What is our response as therapists? I would like to talk about how belonging, community, connectedness and participation with others is the sitz em leben of our being, the heart of our existence, and the vitality of our vocation as therapists. Indeed ‘care’ and ‘to care’ is the sine qua non of the human condition. It occupies at once, both the territory of presuppositional ‘ground’, and imperative. To care is in our biology and our meaning making. ‘Care’ is a psycho-physiological need, the antidote to our existential torment and our spiritual longing ‘come home’. To engage with ‘care’ as an organizing centre of our ‘livedness’ is to flourish. When care is minimized we languish and without care we perish. I see it as an important part of our journeying with others as therapists to understand how it is that ‘care’, ‘to care’, ‘being cared for’ is ‘gestalted’ in a person’s life. What is foreground – what is background? What has been this person’s experience of care, their expectations?  What is this person’s longing and capacity to care? What do they have ‘heart’ for, who do they have heart with? How is care explicitly threaded through the dominant narratives of their ‘self telling’ and coded implicitly in their lives as a yearning. I regard attending to how it is that awareness of ‘care’ is focussed and structured in this person’s life before me is central to an exploration, understanding and expression of what matters most for both our clients and ourselves.

Greer:  Care In The Full Experience of Life

In this presentation, I want to draw firstly upon an existentialist perspective and then move to my clinical experience of sitting in care with my clients.

I will offer a short description of existentialism as it makes sense to me as a psychotherapist and woman on this life journey.  Existentialists concern themselves with the individual in their human existence. People can choose to make of themselves in every moment and are therefore responsible for everything they do. As such, anxiety and suffering are inseparable from human existence itself. Life is at once boxed in by borders and released by inspirational and exhilarating moments. One way of dealing with this, our human condition, is to begin to describe well what we experience and thus awaken ourselves to living more authentic lives (Bakewell, 2016).

I will offer a reflection of how I sit with another as a psychotherapist and woman on this life journey. I will describe my attitude as I listen to the full experience of another’s anxiety, suffering, liberation and excitement and the echoes of these within me. I will share my activities as I engage with the other’s experience. I will reflect on the other’s impact on me, and how I walk in my life with the stories of the other. The listening, the action and the reflective walking I take are acts of deep care both for myself and for the other. I will explore how I understand the Aesthetics of Care, the nature and beauty of psychotherapy, as I relate this to my clinical work.

Brenda Levien
B.E (Gestalt Institute of New Zealand)
NZRN, Dip Psych, MNZAC, MNZAP, FMGANZ, NZ Registered Psychotherapist.

brenda.jpgI have 30 years experience as a Gestalt Therapist, supervisor and trainer and run a successful private practice in Christchurch.

My introduction to gestalt was in Canada in 1974. I joined the teaching faculty of the Gestalt Institute of NZ in 1993 and became Director of Training in 2000 a role that ended last year. I regularly attend international Gestalt events. I am involved within the wider NZ psychotherapy community in various roles including 7 years on the NZAP council, 5 years as Chair of Ethics.

Previously I was part of a team that developed GANZ, serving 10 years on that Council including two terms as President. I am passionate about people’s capacity to adjust to challenges and interested in how Gestalt principles can be used within the wider community.

David Mutton
PostGradDipPsych, ClinMGANZ, PACFA (Reg), (AHPRA Psychologist).

DaveDave is a registered psychologist and psychotherapist in private practice. He has worked with individuals, couples, groups and organizations in a counselling, supervision, coaching and consulting capacity for over 30  years with  experience in community,  hospital and palliative settings, industry environments (EAP)  and the corporate sector (Executive Coaching).  Dave completed his Gestalt training at the Gestalt Institute of Melbourne and subsequently at the Gestalt Training Center of San Diego (Erv and Miriam Polster).  He has widely taught Gestalt therapy theory and practice in Australia, Asia and Italy (Istituto Gestalt de Trieste) and been involved in psychotherapy education in both the private and university sectors. In addition to Gestalt therapy Dave has a passionate interest in the variety of psychological and philosophical perspectives through which human experience may be understood and integrates these into consulting contexts.  He is currently enjoying the resurgence of interest in ‘mindfulness’ and meditation among practitioners and is engaged in working with and applying the Enneagram.  He served for a number of years as a member of the GANZ Council.  He is a member of Sandra Maitri’s International Retreat Group.  Dave is married with three adult children and a still growing family.

Greer White
EdD, PACFA Clinical Membership, Member of GANZ

GreerGreer White is one of the Directors of Gestalt Therapy Brisbane (GTB). She received her Gestalt Therapy training at the Gestalt Association of Queensland Inc more than 20 years ago, became a trainer at this institute and then Director of Training. In 2008 Greer White entered into a professional partnership with Maria Vogt and formed Gestalt Therapy Brisbane. She is presently in partnership at GTB with Sharon Gray and Paddy O’Regan. Greer has an education and welfare background. She has taught in both primary and secondary schools and been employed in organisations that were concerned for young people at risk and people who had been abused. She has worked as a contracted consultant to various schools and organisations. Her doctoral studies focused on adolescent masculine development. Presently, in addition to her role as Director and educator at GTB, she engages in a small psychotherapist practice with individuals, couples and families.

Plenary 6 / Sunday 27th August
2.00 pm – 3.00 pm

Closing Event – Reflecting and Integrating
with David Conradson, Mary-Jo Duffy and Leanne O’Shea

This is the closing event of the conference.  We have asked three gestalt practitioners from diverse professional (and geographical) backgrounds to speak to the theme of the conference from the vantage point of the preceding three days.  Each will take time to highlight something of their experience of: the event; the plenary sessions; the workshops and clinical conversations; and community time to say something of the ways that they are integrating into their practice and taking home The Aesthetics of Care.

This session will also include an opportunity for you to reflect on your own experience of the event, and to collectively thank all those who have contributed to the conference.

David Conradson
BSc, MSc, PhD, GradDipPsych, Master of Gestalt Therapy

DavidDavid Conradson works as an academic in the field of human geography at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. A key theme in his teaching and research is the multifaceted ways in which environments shape social and psychological life. In recent years, he has worked on life in post-disaster environments, with a particular focus on household and community recovery after the 2010-11 Canterbury earthquakes. Previous research has examined the subjective experience and relational dynamics of community drop-in centres, residential aged care facilities, and spiritual and religious retreat centres.  Alongside this academic activity, David works part-time as a Gestalt therapist, where he seeks to support clients to inhabit their situations with greater awareness and choicefulness.  In his educational and therapeutic roles, David is interested in care as both disposition and embodied practice, as a way of meeting another person, and as a basis for co-creating forms of relational space that enable growth and well-being.

Mary-Jo Duffy
B. PSYCH, M. PSYCH, MCCLP, Reg. Clinical Psychologist, AHPRA

mary-jo.jpgMary-Jo is a Psychotherapist and Clinical Psychologist in Margaret River a small town in the south west of Western Australia.  She has completed a B. Arts, B. Psychology and M. Psychology and has also trained in a number of treatment modalities.

She completed a four-year program with GTIWA in 2008 including three international GATLA intensives. Since then Mary-Jo has pursued further training and development in a relationally orientated Gestalt therapy with GTA Melbourne including workshops with Gary Yontef PhD and Lyn Jacobs PhD in Melbourne.

Mary-Jo works in private practice with individuals, couples and adolescents. She has embraced the relational turn in psychotherapy.  Current interests include insights gained from Attachment theory, Type ll complex developmental trauma and Buddhist Psychology with reference to Mahayana traditions informing how care lives within the therapist and the therapeutic relationship. She is a member of her local Buddhist community.

Leanne O’Shea
DPsych (Doctor in Psychotherapy), MSc (Masters of Science), BTheol (Bachelor of Theology)

LeanneLeanne began her training at the Gestalt Institute of Melbourne and has since studied in the United States and England. She completed a Master’s Degree in Gestalt Psychotherapy at Middlesex University and recently completed her Doctorate there.

She has worked in private practice for the past twenty years, providing counselling and psychotherapy to individuals and couples. During that time she has also worked as a supervisor.   For the past seventeen years she has taught gestalt psychotherapy at Gestalt Therapy Australia and also teaches internationally, most recently at the Esalen Institute in the US. She is an Associate of Relational Change in the UK and an International Associate Faculty with the Pacific Gestalt Institute.

Leanne is interested in writing and encouraging others to write and was a founding co-editor of the Gestalt Journal of Australia and New Zealand. She is particularly passionate about Eros and sexuality, and is interested in exploring how these issues emerge in clinical practice. Her ongoing commitment is to developing theoretical and practical resources that better support practitioners.

She is a member of GANZ (Fellow), a member association of PACFA served as the Chair of Ethics and the President of GANZ.