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Mission, vision and activities HR&SR Committee

 

The Human Rights and Social Responsibility Committee of EAGT has its origins in the echo of the Twin Tower attacks on September 11th, 2001. It was a wake-up call that resonated in our Gestalt community to shift focus from individual growth to social actions and to reconnect with the political roots and values of Gestalt Therapy. In the multiply global crises today, with the threat of basic human rights which we face, growing awareness and taking social responsibility beyond the therapy room is more than ever necessary.

The Committee was founded at the EAGT conference in Prague 2004.

 

Our mission

  • Exploring the interface between Gestalt Therapy and the social-political context with reference to the advancement of human rights
  • Supporting the restoration of human dignity and rights at places where these have been violated or threatened
  • Encouraging Gestalt therapists to be socially active beyond the therapy room and Gestalt Training Institutes promoting awareness about the socio-political dimension of our work in training of Gestalt therapists

 

Initiatives our Committee launched

Human rights are under pressure worldwide, also in Europe. In recent years, we have responded calls from societies, organizations and spontaneous initiatives with a range of activities: with the psychosocial support of human rights activists, volunteers and professionals in the initial reception and accompaniment of refugees, with training of therapists in dealing with trauma and burnout prevention in war and post-war situations. We promoted awareness about the social political dimension of Gestalt Therapy in Gestalt Training and daily practice.

Overview of our activities 2004-2018

All activities were developed and carried out on a voluntary basis and for real expense reimbursement.

2006 A small informal conference in Tel-Aviv facilitating and being witness in a dialogue between a former member of the PLO, Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs

2008-2019 On-going Partnership with NGO ‘Peace Brigades International’ (PBI).

PBI works to open a space for peace in which conflicts can be dealt with non-violently. PBI uses a strategy of international presence and concern that supports local initiatives and contributes to developing a culture of peace and justice. PBI acts on request of local non-violent groups working for human rights and social change in regions where there is oppression and conflict (like Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, and Nepal).

They have a particular decision-making system that makes this organisation as a   unique international human rights and peace NGO. It has become like a school for        activists developing both personal and social consciousness while doing their peace work and in their internal interactions.

EAGT’s Human Rights and Social Responsibility Committee has formed an international group of Gestalt therapists who provide psycho-social support to PBI field volunteers and staff before and during their deployment to the field, through workshops and Skype coaching. These Gestalt therapists are also available for Skype supportafter their field work after their return from the field and upon their integration into their personal and professional life. Since the start of the PBI-EAGT agreement more than 100 PBI volunteers have used this form of support.

Through the years, we have gained confidence within PBI and this has been for us an honour to serve as support for the people, who work along with threatened peace and human rights activists, in the countries facing conflict.

The Skype support given to them has often served as a strategy to give a sense of meaning to what they are doing, to provide a safe space to express their inner emotions and also to be able to establish contact with an external person that can act as presence, advisor or as a person to talk to without judgements nor expectations, on whatever is significant to them, in the here and now.

PBI was also present in the last EAGT conference on “human rights in the collapsing field” in Berlin. They were keen to share their experiences, some of them participated in workshops. This proved that our vision and values are common both as an organisation and also at the (inter)personal level.

 

2010  A survey on Therapists EAGT members, who also work outside the therapy room, in communities, schools, NGO’s etc. Making a network of Gestalt Therapists involved in different kind of humanitarian work

2011 Organizing the conference ‘Social, political and cultural relationship as therapy’s ground, a Gestalt perspective’ in October 2011 in Venice; organized under the auspices of the European Master Degree in Human Rights (EMA) and the Inter University-Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation (EIUC). The aim of this conference was to acquire awareness, knowledge and instruments concerning social, political and cultural items, and the ways to cope with them, both in therapy and in trainings. Participants took part in building up proposals for the inclusion of social, political and cultural items in European Gestalt Training Programs.

2013-2015 Publishing the book ‘Yes we care! Social, political and cultural relationship as therapy’s ground, a Gestalt perspective ‘First edition 2013, second edition 2015. This post conference book was meant to encourage therapists to reclaim our political roots and values and to move from the clinical work in the therapy room to social engagement in a broader context.    

2013 Designing a proposal to incorporate the social, political, cultural and ecological dimension of the ‘field theory’ in Gestalt Training Program; this proposal was voted on EAGT Annual General Meeting in 2013 in Krakow. Gestalt institutes are in the process of implementing these field dimensions in their training program.  

2010-2019 Promoting social responsibility and awareness of social political perspectives in therapeutic work through workshops and lectures at many conferences in Berlin, Krakow, London, Beijing, Durban, Athens, Taormina, Budapest.

2015-2020 Supporting professionals from Babel Day Centre for migrants in Athens.  Babel Day Centre (https://babeldc.gr/ )provides mental health service to migrants (individuals, families, children, adolescents and groups since 2007 in Athens, Greece Babel’s main mission is the mental healthcare of migrants (regardless their legal or residence status) living in Athens and distinguished with the triple scheme of the migrant or refugee condition, a different ethno-cultural background and the experience of mental disorder. 

Towards this, Babel endeavours to create a home (including assistance for material conditions) where people can be heard, understood and supported as individuals, as a couple, family or group with a mental health request. Within that home every person can retain or make their meaning for the loss of the original home and the expectations for a new personal, family or social life. 

Based on an identified need and from the idea ‘taking care of the caretaker’ we started cooperation with Babel Day care centre. We provided the multidisciplinary staff support by workshops on topics as working with trauma, burn-out prevention of workers and team cooperation.

2016 The creation of an international network of Gestalt therapists to support international volunteers who provide assistance in the reception of refugees in Moria migrant’s camp on Lesvos Island Greece. 

2015-2020 Responding an emergency call from colleagues (Gestalt) Therapist from Ukraine after armed conflicts in Maiden Kiev in 2014 through a humanitarian Train the trainer’s program ‘healing the traumatized situation’. The program was a spontaneous reaction to the needs of local therapist, working in the armed conflict in Ukraine. It included looking for funding, support sources and trainers who would agree to come to Ukraine. It consisted of six 3-days workshops on topics like: crisis and crisis intervention, loss and grief, trauma symptoms and diagnosis, trauma therapy, Gestalt trauma therapy. This necessary and humanitarian project developed into co-creating meetings with about 25 therapists from all over Ukraine, staying with them in their fears and to providing comfort as well as conditions for personal and professional learning during this traumatic armed conflict. The program will be continued with life supervision meetings in 2019 and 2020. This program is fully financed from the profit of the HR&SR committee conference in Venice in 2011 and the social levy from EAGT. 

2017-2018 Responding the demand for a network for Gestalt therapists working in current global humanitarian crisis situations by organizing the conference ‘Supporting human dignity in a collapsing field’ Berlin 2018. With this conference we created a meeting platform for Gestalt therapists who, voluntary or professionally, are working on defending human rights. Therapists might share experiences, support each other and mutually learn from field experiences. 

2018-2019 Publishing the post conference book “Supporting human dignity in a collapsing field. Gestalt approach in the social and political contexts” This book contains articles from Gestalt practitioners active in the social political field on topics “the field of political conflict, war and aftermath”, “the field of migration and refugee crises” and “the broader field of social exclusion”. It is the harvest of the Berlin conference under the same title and is intended to encourage Gestalt therapists to broaden their scope to a wider social context, and as study material for (Gestalt) training institutes, when implementing the social political field dimensions in their training program. 

Committee members from the foundation in 2004

Ken Evans†, United Kingdom/France (co-founder, 2004-2015)

Peter Schulthess, Switzerland (co-founder, 2004-2016),

 

Joanna Kato (chair)

Dieter Bongers, Switzerland (2012-2019)

Michela Gecele, Italy (2008-2019)

Guus Klaren, The Netherlands (1st chair, 2008-2019)

Nurith Levi, Israel (2008-2019)

Eduardo Salvador, Spain (2014-2019)

Ivana Vidakovic, Serbia (2008-2019)

Designed by Jaroslav Jira