A gestalt approach to facilitation

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A Gestalt Approach to Facilitation
by Warren Scott - Oakwood Learning Ltd Organizational facilitation usually is described in terms of three primary models: purchase, doctor-patient, and process consultation (Schein, 1988). Purchase models refer to the purchase of expert information and advice; doctor-patient models refer to the purchase of diagnostic and prescriptive services; and processconsultation models refer to collaborative client-consultant relationships in which consultants function as facilitators and help clients learn to improve their internal problem-solving processes. Nevis (1987) suggests that Gestalt models of consultation essentially are extensions of process consultation, with the addition of a theoretical foundation built on the principles of Gestalt therapy.Basics of Gestalt Theory Gestalt psychology began as the study of human perception and learning during the early and mid-Twentieth Century (Koffka, 1922; Kohler, 1929; Wertheimer, 1945). Gestalt principles subsequently were applied in the therapeutic setting (Perls, 1951) and were focused specifically on the processes by which people develop an awareness and perception of their environments at anygiven moment in time. When Gestalt principles are applied within an organizational-consulting situation, perception and awareness become focal points-so much so that Nevis (1987) argues that the basic premise of Gestalt Facilitation & consulting is that effective awareness processes are fundamental to any successful intervention.

Figure/Ground Gestalt pertains to the manner in which parts ofenvironments or situations are perceived and experienced as meaningful wholes. Figure is anything within the environment or situation that is the focus of attention, and ground is the environment or background surrounding the figure. Ground includes all that is within one’s field of perception (physical and emotional) but that is not the focus of attention. Figures exist within boundaries that defineand separate them from the environment

The Gestalt Cycle of Awareness Nevis contends that effective Gestalt facilitation requires an understanding of the Gestalt cycle of awareness. Its acceptance as a basic orienting principle is an integral part of understanding Gestalt processes. The cycle of awareness addresses the following elements of human experience:

The processes by which peoplebecome aware of what is going on in the environment (the environment meaning the processes going on within the individuals, group and/organisations) The methods by which energy is readied for action.

The cycle assumes that all people have an intrinsic desire to be effective and to be satisfied with what they do. Gestalt-oriented consultants believe that movement through the cycle isnecessary for healthy functioning, human effectiveness, satisfaction, and learning. The figure that follows illustrates the seven stages of the Gestalt cycle of experience: sensation, awareness, energy mobilization, action, contact, resolution, and withdrawal of attention. Sensation - Human experience begins with sensory arousal that is brought about by one or more of the five senses (touch, smell,sight, hearing, and taste). This arousal stems from elements in the environment and leads to an awareness of figures. Awareness - Awareness occurs when figures emerge from sensations. Awareness focuses attention on important elements (figures) within the environment (ground) so that important elements emerge as clearly differentiated figures. Awareness is continuous and ongoing. Energy Mobilization -Energy is the potential or capability to do work. Awareness brings about an awakening of internal energy, which produces the additional strength necessary to bring important background elements into focus (make figural). In the Gestalt sense, energy mobilization refers to the work that takes place in order to produce a clearly differentiated figure and ground. Action - Action adds a behavioral...
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