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Gestalt Coaching


In partnership with the Academy of Executive Coaching and its President John Leary-Joyce, we are excited to present the new European Gestalt Coaching Programme in Switzerland on the Lake of Geneva. In this experiential programme, the leading expert John Leary-Joyce will give you an insight into the art and practice of Gestalt Coaching. This programme will leverage professional and personal growth of coaches and other professionals with coaching expertise.

This will be an opportunity to discover the short-cuts, tools and techniques of Gestalt Coaching set within the profound but simply explained philosophy and theory of Gestalt.

John is a master at deconstructing this complex practice to make it accessible to those new to Gestalt Coaching but also deepen and extend the practice of those that have substantial experience of Gestalt.

Read the Chapter 1 of his book Fertile Void, Gestalt Coaching at Work to get a flavour of his demystifying skill. This programme brings to life the written explanation in a very practical and highly experiential way.

John has been practicing Gestalt for 40 years as a therapist, teacher, trainer and coach as well as living the philosophy in his daily family life. He has a passion and zest for living a rich and full life - one outlet is dancing Tango!

There will be six two-day workshops over 12 months commencing in October 2016 (Module 1), we start at Le Courtil, Centre de séminaires & BnB, Rue du Port 14, 1180 Rolle and 2017 (Modules 2 to 6) continue in the Hôtel de la Nouvelle Couronne, Passage de la Couronne 2, 1110 Morges.

Module 1 The Essence of Gestalt Coaching, 6 & 7 October 2016
(each module provides 12 ICF CCEU's)

Gestalt is a dynamic approach that focuses on maximising the quality and effectiveness of relationships through clarifying how our emotions block or enhance that communication.

This is specifically important in the Coach/Client relationship where the emphasis is on bringing discussions ‘about’ the clients’ situation into the room so that the coach can observe and comment on the quality of the interaction in the ‘Here & Now’.

Gestalt also has a fundamentally different approach to Change compared to the traditional training/teaching/goal-focused coaching methods. These are based on effort and trying to improve as opposed to Gestalt belief that by ‘being yourself fully’ change will occur. Strangely there is no effort involved, but it does require courage and willingness to explore who you really are!

In this first module John will outline the five core principles of Gestalt and explain how they fit with coaching:

  •  Awareness

  •  Being Present in the Here & Now

  •  Figure / Ground formation

  •  Contact – Withdrawal Rhythm – Cycle of Experience

  •  Paradox of change


By the end of the module you will have real clarity on the Gestalt approach and an excitement to delve deeper into the experience of the future modules.

Module 2 Signature Presence & Use of Self – Somatic Resonance, 26 & 27 January 2017

This module is exploring how you ‘show up’ in life and as a coach. How to make the most of who you are in any given context – which may be being the centre of attention or quietly sitting back – either way you are effortless and content. John has broken this down into five components and we’ll explore each one in detail:

  •  Context for the relationship

  •  Communication style

  •  Capability and credibility

  •  Confidence in self

  •  Centred and being present


Somatic Resonance is an approach John has developed that lets you use your internal emotional experience to connect in a deeply empathic way with your coachee and links with your Signature Presence.

Module 3 Gestalt Cycle Interruptions – a central principle of Gestalt theory, 23 & 24 March 2017

Those of you who have some knowledge of Gestalt will be familiar with the Gestalt Cycle and the Interruptions but we expect it’s quite a hazy understanding and somehow complicated. John will dispel all that and make it clear and practical. You may still not know the technical terminology but you will have an experience of the core principles and know why and how it works.

The Gestalt Cycle of Experience maps out the route we go through as we engage with another person or the world at large. There are a number of steps with titles but these are not as important as having a clear experience of the real delight of the Flow and the internal tension we create when we block that flow. Those blockages we call ‘Interruptions’ (a less judgemental title) and we have different patterns that leave us unsatisfied and incomplete. Gestalt coaching provides a language and framework for us to create interventions that undo those interruptions, i. e. ‘unblock’ the flow.

Module 4 Polarities and Projections – classic Empty Chair, Topdog/Underdog & Dreams, 17 & 18 May 2017

An essential component of Gestalt is understanding and experiencing the breadth of our ability to respond to the ever changing world around us. Our relationships are depleted when we limit our contact through habitual and safe responses. We therefore need to explore the polarities in our personality so we have choice and can be creative in the way we engage so we have a more vibrant and satisfying life.

One of the classic Gestalt techniques for achieving this is the Empty Chair experiment. It is so brilliant if used in the correct way but it requires the subtleties of the technique to be acknowledged and followed to make this intervention powerful and effective every time. In this module you will learn those skills.

The Empty Chair can be used in two ways, to find reconciliation in a fraught relationship with another or to convert the internal destructive Topdog/Underdog row in your head to a meaningful conversation. We’ll cover both perspectives and how/when to use them.

‘Dreams are the gateway to the unconsciouses’ but they can also be metaphors for how we are engaging in the world. So we’ll use dreams and metaphors as a way of getting beneath the surface to find the deeper and more profound routes to change.

Module 5 Constellations, Sculpting and Systems (Field) perspective, 13 & 14 July 2017

‘No man is an island…..’ or central tenant in Gestalt is that we are all interconnected, we do not exist in isolation, we share in an ever changing ‘Field’ that we shape and are shaped by. So we need to be aware of this constant movement and how we adapt to it. Bert Hellinger created an intriguing methodology that recognised this ‘field’ concept, that families, teams and organisations have forces at work that strongly influence who we are. We’ll explore this methodology and how it compares to Sculpting a socio-drama technique that also explores our interconnected world/system in a different way.

Module 6 Gestalt Team Coaching & Group Facilitation, 13 & 14 Sept 2017

Because Gestalt has this Field perspective where we are all interconnected, it becomes a great methodology for addressing the interpersonal dynamics and stakeholder relationships of teams.

We’ll work with Hawkins’s 5 Disciplines framework of Systemic Team CoachingTM and apply what we’ve learned in the previous 5 modules to coaching and facilitating teams. Throughout the programme John will be facilitating our learning community in a Gestalt style so you’ll have been experiencing and discussing how John has done this. You’ll then find it easier to learn how to apply this in your team coaching practice.

Each Module will include the following theory and practice:

  •  Here & Now Awareness – Being/Coaching in the Present 

What is exciting about Gestalt is that all the action takes place in the session – in front and with you. The change happens now, not an exercise that has to be completed later. On the programme you will be experiencing this as we do live experiments on your own, in pairs, small groups and the large group. 

  •  Directed and Emergent Change (the Gestalt Paradox of Change) 

You will learn about the theory and methodology through experiencing it. How and when to allow change to emerge or direct it. We’re so used to goal-focused directed change that it’s rather scary to ‘wait and see what happens’ yet if we ‘trust the process’ and believe in the Fertile Void then amazing, unexpected and hugely vital changes do happen. 

  •  Exaggeration as a key tool 

Because our focus is always on building awareness of our experience in the moment - the primary tool is designed to enhance that experience. So expanding and exaggerating how we express ourselves – body, emotions, thinking & actions is the way to go. Again this can be scary as we begin to own up to ‘who we are’ but also enormously liberating. 

  •  Interventions as Creative Experiments 

Our methodology is all about being joint researchers with our coachees. 
Understanding their world and letting ourselves become immersed in it. We are setting up ‘experiments’ that expand awareness and take our coachees to the edge of their knowledge of themselves. However, for this to work we also need to feel incredibly secure to enter this unknown internal world. In this way we create a Safe Emergency – learning in a challenging and supportive environment. 

  •  Liberating and Containing Emotions 

Gestalt is the most comprehensive methodology for working with emotions. We cannot experience the world and our relationships without engaging our emotions. However we also need to create a balance between simply splurging our feelings when we feel like it in a self-indulgent way and containing our emotions in order to fit in with the social norms that we find ourselves. It is this notion of Creative Adaption that we will be constantly working with. How do I express myself fully in a way that respects and includes the other. How do I ‘Become Myself’ yet still be In Contact with the other? 

  •  Expressing self in voice and body 

If we are to experiment, live dynamically and with aliveness then we need to communicate with our whole being. This means expressing ourselves through our voice and body in many different ways. This does not mean we are creating theatre or some dramatic expression it means we listen to our internal world and do whatever is necessary to communicate that through our whole being – from a gentle whisper to a huge roar. 

  •  The Art of Leading & Following 

As coaches and business/team leaders we are called upon to inspire and direct our coachees/followers. This means knowing when to take charge and when to surrender to the direction of others. We will explore the dynamic of Hubris & Humility as a polarity of self-belief and self-confidence.

Who is this course for?

To be actively coaching or a consultant or leader who has significant coaching experience. We also invite experienced Gestalt Practitioners to deepen their practice.

Participant Groups

Advanced Group – this will be a small group of six experienced Gestalt Practitioners that will be close to John and have special time for in-depth discussion of complex principles and techniques. They will be supervising small Practitioner groups and be supervised by John on their coaching practice.

Practitioner Group – this will be the large group of 20 who have ACC level experience of coaching but newer to Gestalt. They will be learning about the principles and practices of Gestalt Coaching. John will teach and demonstrate in this large ‘community’, setting up experiential exercises to illustrate methods and ideas. There will also be small ‘triad’ practice groups of Coach, Coachee & Peer Observer supervised by an apprentice.

The programme runs from 9.30am to 5.00pm each day. 

Course Price:

Module 1 Tutor Fees €780 (CHF 850) + Total Delegate Rate of €110 (CHF 120) 
Includes lunch & refreshments 

Module 2 - 6 Practitioner Level Tutor Fees €2,470 (CHF 2,690) + Total Delegate Rate of €600 (CHF 550) 
Includes lunch & refreshments

Advanced Level Tutor Fees €3,710 (CHF 4,050) + Total Delegate Rate of €600 (CHF 550) 
Includes lunch & refreshments

Save 10% on the tutor fees by booking the Full Programme.
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