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Contemporary Relational Gestalt Therapy — Advanced training

A step into exploring practice-based research in Gestalt therapy

Out of the Paris’Conference

Out of the Paris Conference: a step into exploring practice- based research in Gestalt therapy

In this paper, Vincent Béja, Gianni Francesetti, Jan Roubal, Mark Reck, the four conveners of the Paris Conference (May 2017) tell us why and how a research tradition in Gestalt therapy is starting to grow: the uniqueness and relevance of Gestalt therapy merits joining the psychotherapy research field to receive legitimation and the Gestalt community has already undertaken good research projects and achieved valuable results. The Gestalt community is now mobilized and the success of the Paris Conference seems to be a turning point. The authors continue by discussing how research can fit with Gestalt anthropology and show how this emerging tradition is connected with and part of the wider field of contemporary psychotherapy research. Finally, they focus on the training and development of the reflexive awareness of the therapist, advocating a more research-oriented attitude.

Table of contents

  • Heading towards research: a brief history
  • A reflective process
  • A major political axis
  • False dichotomy and true benefit
  • An effort towards method
  • A terrain of conflict and evolution
  • Training: the real challenge

This paper has been first published in the British Gestalt Journal 2018, Vol. 27, No.1, 7–13

=> Available from the first author on request.


The role of research is like a spur which pushes us on and invites us not simply to satisfy ourselves with what exists. For example, we tend to believe that group training develops reflexive awareness and improves a future therapist’s interpersonal skills; however, as with many aspects of our approach, we have no evidence- based data proving this. This is where the challenge lies, in getting evidence that supports our methods. We are convinced that by focusing on the processes of clarification and observation, our community will find new ways to further improve our training in terms of a better integration of theoretical–clinical knowledge with relational skills.
It is therefore desirable that research, with its dual aspects of results – that are always incomplete – and the ever-stimulating questions being asked, become an integral part of the therapists’ and trainers’ ‘baggage’. This has recently led the EAGT to advocate for the introduction of research into the programs of the training institutes it accredits.

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