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Institute of special Pedagogic and Psychology
St. Petersburg, Russia
"A theoretical and practical introduction to the
philosophy and methodology of the Gestalt therapy
through the PSP approach"
an one year educational - training program structured and conducted by
PETROS THEODOROU (Gestalt psychotherapist, member of EAGT, PSP founder)
(1) The characteristics and the nature of the program
The program is scheduled to start on October 2012 and last till June 2013.
It will be realized during this period in 7 meetings, of 20 hours each one, in pre-specified weekends (for the exact dates you may contact the Institute).
The meetings are inter-connected and not independent between them.
The program is not following the structure of the “classroom - lessons”, and also not the one of a theoretical seminar.
Instead, it develops rather as a “workshop” including alternating zones of:
... education (theory),
... direct practical (experiential) group work,
... live interaction between the participants,
... training (practice): the participants will work in practice on the different project’s aspects (there are also included demonstrations by the conductor).
So, in what follows, the word “workshop” is used to express the same idea expressed by the words “program” and “project”.
(2) To whom is the program addressed
The program is oriented toward a relational, existential and humanistic direction. It unfolds within the broader philosophical areas of phenomenology, field theory, and existential dialogue. It is addressed:
... To professional psychologists and psychotherapists of any orientation and approach, interested to explore new for them areas proposed by the program, in order to enrich their theoretical background and practical potential.
... To professionals in close to psychology and psychotherapy disciplines. Such may be persons involved in social work, education, persons who conduct or participate in groups of any kind in any frame (art, education, Organizations, etc).
... To students of both the above cases of professionals.
(3) The goals of the program regarding knowledge, skills, and growth
Theodorou’s approach PSP is actually linking the Gestalt philosophy with the art of improvisation.
Based on this conception, the program is formed on a Theodorou’s strong belief. His idea is that the improvised praxis (of any kind) combined with the Gestalt philosophy perspective, create a powerful amalgam, that may have numerous and significant benefits for the persons to whom is addressed this program. So, its goals may be sketched as following:
... Knowledge - education (the theoretical goals)
The participant will be introduced to the basic principles:
(a) of the Gestalt therapy philosophy, and
(b) of the PSP approach (some general info about PSP are included in the Appendix),
(c) of their combination.
The participant will not only listen to the theory verbally. Through innovative ways and specially designed exercises, he/she may “embody” the theoretical concepts by sensing and feeling them in through direct practical (experiential) interaction.
... skills - training (the practical goals) - part A
The participant will have the chance to watch and participate in live demonstrations regarding the Gestalt therapy methodology linked with the PSP application possibilities.
Particularly, the participant will be practically introduced and trained in original ways, in:
(a) the phenomenological perspective that can be used in approaching any kind of work having to do with other people in several frames (therapy, education, Organizations, social work, art, etc)
(b) awareness work (that can be applied in all the above cases)
(c) process work (that can be applied in all the above cases)
(d) applying the principles of the existential dialogue in relating
(d) group conducting ((that can be applied in all the above cases)
... skills - training (the practical goals) - part B
Moreover, between the meetings, she/he will have the option to work individually (or in small subgroups with other participants) on short term assignments which will be presented in the big group of the participants.
The topics of this “homework” will be any kind of applications of the project’s material to the professional (or educational) life of the participant.
For example, if the participant’s work has to do with groups, such an assignment might be to structure some ideas of the Gestalt and PSP philosophy regarding her/his work. The assignment will be discussed in the big group and even there can be supervision by the conductor within the group (if is some practical application).
As the participant takes part in a live workshop, there will inevitably be some work on the group’s dynamics. The workshop is not a therapy group, but it provides the space for
(a) dynamic group work (also as a demo and an application of the workshop material), and
(b) for any personal issues that may emerge during the group’s life.
So the participant definitely will also benefit in terms of personal growth through both individual and group work.
(4) An important note on the program’s goals
It is clarified that at the program’s end the participant:
(a) will not have received: a full training in the Gestalt therapy and the PSP approach, and that
(b) he/she will by no means have any official authorization to work as a Gestalt psychotherapist or a PSP practitioner in any field (therapy, arts and Playback Theatre, education, etc).
It is also clarified that this project may be an educational and training one designed on an advanced level, yet still it is of an introductory nature. And so is also its training (practical) aspect.
This means that the program does not include a full, thorough and longterm training, but mostly indicative chances of practical work and participation in demonstrations carried out by other participants or by the conductor.
(5) The program’s structure and sections
The program is structured in 7 sections, each one of which has to do with one meeting. These sections are not autonomous topics. They all link between them as theory and practice. They are interdependent, forming the program’s material, and whatever may be offered to the participant by this project.
However, each section covers a specific area and topic, having its own design and goal.
On the other hand, one fundamental characteristic of this program is that it relies much on the personal responsibility of the participants, so it is flexible and adaptable to the whole group of the participants and to their directly emerging needs.
(a) No matter each section’s design, the group and the conductor may interwind and reshape these sections accordingly.
(b) It is useless and impossible to describe in advance and in details each section’s contents.
Keeping in mind that they all have to do with different aspects of the Gestalt therapy linked with different aspects of the PSP approach, the 7 sections are entitled:
1. “The phenomenological field theory and the existential dialogue as cornerstones of Gestalt therapy".
2. "The art of relating, the contact process, the cyclic and holistic form of experience".
3. "The basic PSP principles as an embodied theory".
4. "The microstructure of human experience: its implicit and explicit aspects in PSP".
5. “Awareness, the Self as a process, body image, and bodily sense”.
6. “The organismic, relational and improvisational aspects of life”.
7. “Self-regulation and the human encounter”
(6) The group of the participants - (part A): the whole group and its possible two sub-groups
Till the end of September 2012 the group is scheduled to be formed with the perspective of functioning as a closed (fixed) group, with a limited number of participants.
If by this period the candidate participants are not enough to form a closed group, the program will be adjusted to include also participants that take part occasionally.
So, in such a case, the whole group of the program will consist of two sub-groups:
... One (fixed) with the participants who commit for the whole length of the program.
... One (occasional) with the participants who may join randomly some meetings. This sub-group may also include participants who were making part of the fixed group, but for one or another reason shifted to this sub-group (see what follows in “6”).
(7) The group of the participants - (part B): about the possible occasional sub-group
A participant of this sub-group, has to keep in mind that:
... It is his/her own responsibility of getting aligne to the program’s phase and to the level that is at that moment the fixed group.
... He /she will have to participate in the group’s dynamic process with her/his identity as a visitor.
... She/he will take part in demonstrations and practice only if this is decided and accepted by the whole group.
... His/her certificate of attendance will not be for the whole program but only and exactly on what he/she followed.
... She/he will may join the fixed group after having lost only the first meeting, or, in very special cases, after the whole group’s decision.
At the end of the program the participants will receive certificates of attendance (a) by the Institute and (b) also by the “PSP-studio” (the framework founded by the conductor).
In these certificates there will be mentioned the hours, the nature and the length of the program (an occasional participant’s certificate will mention in details what section of the program has been followed).
The “PSP-studio” may provide any kind of recommendation that will be possibly needed by a participant in the future.
(9) The participation and the program process
... As the participants are going to form a fixed group, it is necessary that all candidates have to fill up a brief and indicative questionnaire regarding their motivation, expectations, constraints and obstacles, background in education and growth, education and professional life, availability, commitment readiness concerning their participation to the program process, etc.
... As it is mentioned above, all the meetings are interconnected. So the participant has to follow all of them. In case that he/she looses more than one, she/he automatically shifts in the occasional sub-group.
... The program is of a limited and few number of meetings linked between them in multiple ways, including education (theory), training (practice), as well interaction. So, the participant has to assimilate the work that each time is done from meeting to meeting. Otherwise:
(a) it will be useless for him/her to follow the oncoming meetings, and
(b) impossible to support the group process (and, equally, to be supported himself by this process).
... In the beginning of each meeting there will be some time dedicated:
(a) in summarizing the previous meeting material, and
(b) in becoming aware of the level of the group’s integrating capacity. And, the range of such a capacity is of course very wide and adaptable to the group’s reality.
In case that a participant does not follow for more than 2 meetings this general group level (as it will be defined by the group itself), will automatically shift to the occasional sub-group.
... Each participant is responsible to take her/his own personal notes on the program’s theory and practice.
The material provided will be in verbal form, during the meetings. It is absolutely enough for the participant to follow the program’s evolvement, and nothing else will be asked to be integrated.
However, most of the Getalt literature is in English and there will be proposed a list of relevant recommended literature.
Moreover, the conductor’s book on the Gestalt philosophy and PSP is in English too. If the book is translated in Russian, there will be indicated the sections that are relevant to the workshop material, yet, still for the integration of this material, it is enough the verbal information during the meetings.
... The workshop is structured, yet it is going to evolve based on its own process. So, for several reasons, the participants will be asked to provide to the conductor, from time to time, very brief “diaries” and feedback on their running experience.
Such material is not optional, is part of the workshop work.
... The workshop process is completely confidential (this includes also the translator and the occasional participants). It is absolutely respecting the individual reality and the personal boundaries of each participant.
This is why all of them will guarantee by signing their participation forms, that no piece of personal information possibly emerging during the project, will be transmitted by no means anywhere and to anybody else out of the workshop.
... The program’s evolvement and structure guarantees up to a certain point the assimilation of its material. This is done by the summarizing and the group discussion in the beginning of each meeting, by the diaries, and by the feedback.
However, it will be respected and included in the project’s structure any procedure that supports further this assimilation, protecting the motivation, expectations and self-regulation of the majority of the participants.
Such procedures may be suggested:
(a) By the Institute itself, according its standards of functioning (even just before the start of the project), and according to the constant program’s refining.
(b) By the wholeness of the group, during the program course (after its start).
For example, just indicatively, there may be different kinds of discussions and question-answer tests (oral or written).
In any case, such possible procedures, are not to doubt the self-commitment of the participants as persons, and not to establish a “school” atmosphere.
Their goal is just to maintain the high quality level of the program, to adapt it to the Institute standards, and rame its live processes.
The program’s conductor: PETROS THEODOROU (Greece)
He is a professional Gestalt psychotherapist active in Greece and abroad (he is member of EAGT - The European Association for Gestalt therapy).
He works with individuals and groups, interested in a broader relational and existential perspective.
He is also the PSP approach founder, and a Playback Theatre trainer and supervisor (he teaches Playback through PSP).
And, he is lecturing in several frameworks, and involved in writing.
For example, he is the author of the lengthy book “The Gestalt philosophy, the PSP approach, the Playback Theatre: impro-landscapes”, and also of an article published in the British Gestalt Journal -BGJ- volume of May 2011, about the coral PSP concept of the “personal film”, etc.
Education and training is one more of his areas of activity.
His educational-training programs are flexible and they may have different goals and levels.
They regard several areas and frameworks (therapy, education, art, Organizations, etc), depending on the each area’s needs and goals.
He participates in or structures and conducts several kinds of educational programs in Greece and abroad (he visited Russia several times since 2005, in Moscow, and recently in St. Petersburg, in this Institute).
His training “style” is a personal systematic method, founded on his approach PSP (Proces-Stage-Praxis), as it is applied to the each time educational-training goal.
In PSP, he is actually integrating the fundamental principles of the Gestalt therapy philosophy with stage improvisation, in an idiosyncratic amalgam. However, even if In the past he has been a composer combining in his works multiple artistic languages, PSP is clearly differentiated from the art-therapy field.
His training method is based on deep awareness and process work, developing rather on structures of live workshops than on the “classroom” mentality.
In his workshops of any length, he usually includes alternating zones of theory and practical (experiential) work.
Some notes on PSP (Process-Stage-Praxis).
It is is an approach attempting to configure an existential - relational perspective of the arts of human contact, of heightening awareness, and of personal growth, on the basis and the praxis of improvisation.
By its nature it is designed to support our inherent creative skills and their development through process and awareness work.
PSP has to do with 2 functional levels. Today, both levels are working within the framework entitled “PSP-studio” that organizes several kinds of programs. These two levels are:
(1) The “application” level, on which PSP functions as a tool that can be useful in several cases: in psychotherapy, art, education, Organizations. Such applications usually take the form of experiential workshops and seminars, employing PSP in several ways and degrees:
(a) directly (as the main tool or even the key object of the workshop), or
(b) indirectly and discreetly (as a complementary element, regardless of the principal goals of the workshop).
(2) The “training” level, on which one learns to use the PSP theory and practice according to oneʼs goals and interests. This is a multi-dimensional and extremely flexible educational program.
... the theoretical and practical backbone of PSP
The main theoretical part of PSP involves the entire amalgam of the fundamental philosophy that underlies Gestalt psychotherapy, with no necessary reference whatsoever to the psychotherapeutic praxis.
And this is so because of the growing use of the so called “Gestalt theory” in non-therapeutic fields too (e.g. education, workplaces, artistic creation), in the form of an integrated existentialist perception of the human being, which permeates the entire PSP.
At the same time, the theoretical part of PSP includes two other groups of “special” concepts:
The first group of these concepts refer to the original dimensions acquired by onstage improvisation when “seen” through the Gestalt philosophy.
In other words, some parts of the onstage improvisation theory and praxis are at first being selected as “raw material”. Then, these parts, under the “Gestalt theory”, are detached from the goals and ways that would normally be dictated just by “artistic” creation.
The second group of “special” concepts included in the theoretical part of PSP, have been invented especially in order to link even more tightly the Gestalt philosophy and the art of improvisation: (a) the “personal film”, (b) the “motive”, (c) the bodily sense in PSP, and (d) a flexible “model” that would allow one to design exercises for PSP applications (“1000+1 exercises for the onstage process of contact”).
The practical PSP applications and tools, adapted to the each time needs and goals, may be designed from this amalgam of the Gestalt philosophy and the art of improvisation.
So, in a sense, PSP is not exactly a “new” approach with regard to the majority of its structural elements. It is “new”, however:
(a) in the sense of the “original” which emerges when elements of the Gestalt philosophy are integrated with various elements of onstage improvisation, and
(b) due to the character of the “special” concepts which have been on purpose invented so as to bridge those two groups of elements even more solidly.
... what PSP is NOT
PSP draws elements from all the following fields, and combines, merges and transforms them into its own building blocks. In this sense, PSP:
... is not a psychotherapy proposal,
... is not a form of “art-therapy”,
... is not a theory of theatre and dramaturgy,
... as an approach, is not identical (with regard to structure and goals) to drama-therapy, psychodrama, animation, or theatrical game,
... is not a variant of Playback Theatre.
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