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History of the NYIGT

Fritz Perls photo   Laura Perls photo
Fritz Perls   Laura Perls

  The New York Institute for Gestalt Therapy, founded in 1952, is the original Gestalt therapy institute. In the late 1940’s Frederick (Fritz) and Laura Perls emigrated to the United States and settled in New York City. Here they continued their work begun in South Africa , developing a novel theory and method of psychotherapy. In 1951, the therapy was named and presented to the world in Gestalt Therapy, Excitement and Growth by Frederick Perls, Ralph Hefferline, and Paul Goodman.

Isadore From photo
Isadore From

A year following its publication, 40 people arrived for study at the Perls’s apartment; Fritz and Laura each led a group of 20. The NYIGT, the first Gestalt therapy institute in the world, was fueled by the excitement of this group. The original circle soon grew to include Isadore From, Paul Goodman, Elliot Shapiro, Paul Weiss, Richard Kitzler, and others. Over the years, these people spread the seeds of Gestalt therapy from which many national and international Gestalt therapy institutes grew. Fritz’s enthusiasm sparked the fires of the NYIGT and for many years Laura’s forceful patience sustained it. The continuing liveliness and commitment of its member to the Institute's core values has kept it vital for nearly half a century.

   The NYIGT embodies the essential principle of Gestalt therapy theory: a theory of contact--of figure forming  at the contact-boundary in the organism/environment field.

The NYIGT Today

Over the years, the Institute has evolved into a world-wide membership organization addressing the needs of the Gestalt therapy community. Its structure continues to develop according to the needs of individuals and of the group-as-a-whole. Each month from the relative isolation of psychotherapy practices, supervision, seminars, practica, and study groups, people come together in a larger community to socialize, learn from one another, and contactfully challenge themselves in the on-going group process.

   Each of us meets as a peer, regardless of our background or experience, whether student, teacher, fellow, full or associate member.

   We at the New York Institute for Gestalt Therapy think of ourselves as serving a special function in the larger Gestalt therapy community.Rather than offer formal structured programs to "train" Gestalt therapists,our primary function is the ongoing teaching and learning of Gestalt therapy itself. We believe teaching and learning Gestalt therapy are aspects of a single contact-boundary phenomena. An experienced teacher learns through the process of teaching; a student teaches through the process of learning. All of us continue to discover, invent, learn, and create the theory of Gestalt therapy.

   Learning thus does not emanate from the top down in a fixed hierarchy, but emerges as figures of interest in a field of excitement and support. We invite all interested people to join our teaching/learning community. Each of us organizes his/her own teaching learning experience based on need, interest and excitement. We encourage one another to follow his/her interest, attend to what is exciting in this process, and to bring his/her needs, questions, and concerns to our monthly meetings in order to further the continuing study of Gestalt therapy by all of us.We believe this leads to awareness and growth in a way that most effectively embodies the values and spirit of Gestalt therapy.

   Today, the NYIGT’s membership is international, with people from around the world joining us in our teaching/learning community.

          Join us. Our invitation is open to everyone. Graduates of other Gestalt therapy institutes who are looking to further develop Gestalt therapy theory and inexperienced people beginning the process of understanding Gestalt therapy are equally welcome. Associate membership dues is $50.00 per year.


Membership in the NYIGT

Since The New York Institute for Gestalt Therapy does not "train" Gestalt therapists, we set no extrinsic standards for "training" and no marker that the educational process is over. Rather, we urge a student to follow his/her interest, attend to what is exciting in this process, and to bring his/her needs, questions, and concerns to our monthly meetings in order to further the continuing study of Gestalt therapy by all of us.

Member and student decide together when that student is ready to be sponsored for Full Membership, a category of membership which acknowledges competence as a Gestalt therapist and eligibility for Institute referrals. It is the organization-as-a-whole which makes this decision by consensus. Full membership does not end the study of Gestalt therapy.

Teaching and Learning at the NYIGT

Teaching/learning occurs both informally and formally. This happens informally in the here and-now contact of the monthly meetings in which both presentations and organizational discussions become lively examples of theory and practice.

The offerings on this website provide a more structured experience. We believe that good teaching/learning emerges from a field of mutual interest. From the beginning of the Institute, qualified members have offered courses coming from their involvements and passions. Likewise, students have had to form their own "programs" out of their individual needs and concerns. Each student organizes his/her own "program" based on need, interest and excitement, often "apprenticing" with one member for some time. Rather than mere introjection, we believe this leads to growth and awareness in a way that most effectively embodies the values and spirit of Gestalt therapy. A fixed curriculum by its nature encourages unaware introjecting; a fluid teaching/learning process hopefully encourages more contactful understanding.

These offerings are those currently led by members of our institute. The Institute does not endorse any of them. Rather, they are instances of the teaching/learning process in action. If a prospective student/apprentice reviews the list but does not see anything immediately relevant to his/her educational interest, we encourage this person to contact our members anyway in order to express this interest. Often, this expression of interest creates a new teaching/learning forum, whether it be seminar, colloquium, practicum, or workshop. And in any event, such an expression of interest begins this person’s participation in our teaching/learning process.

Engage and contribute. We welcome everyone to join us in this process.

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