From awareness to new experience in a group context
Workshop trainers:
Nadezhda Lubyanitskaya, Svyatoslav Rumanov

EAGT conference, Budapest, 2019.
We dedicated this workshop to the memory of Nifont Dolgopolov, our teacher and the founder of Moscow Institute of Gestalt and Psychodrama.

Nifont was a person of original and complex way of thinking, he wrote many articles and had a lot of ideas about group leading. It was his favorite gestalt form of connection. He led groups both in supportive and provocative styles. Nifont had his metaphorical view on a gestalt group as a phenomenon, and it was always based on the gestalt theory.

Time for the workshop is limited, so we decided to highlight three main parts of group functioning and focus on them:
Group as a living organism
Group leader considers the group as a living organism.
All parts of the group are connected to each other, they create a self-regulated living system with a boundary that separates it from the environment.

A group can't exist without goals.

· The strategic goal for the group: what does this living organism exists for?

· Functional goals for the group: how different parts of this organism manage to achieve the main goal and how they work on actual tasks?

Remark: an individual organism can live without goal or a meaning of life. It is a function of the individual existential self-determination.
But if the group leader can't differentiate healthy and unhealthy processes in the group or the group loses its goal, such group organism will not be successful in surviving.

Group figure
Group leader treats the group figure the same way as the individual figure.
But unlike the individual therapy, it is the group leader who define the figure, not the members of the group.

The group figure is the process that shows the common need of majority of the participants at the moment, what participants feel excitement about, what do they sense.
The main task for a gestalt group leader is to be aware of this process and to show the participants how the group figure develops and interrupts itself.

Healthy vs unhealthy
Group leader has to reflect healthy and unhealthy behavior of group participants.
Usually the healthy behavior is based on reaching the strategic goal of the group and actual tasks of the participants.

The main skills necessary for the healthy behavior in the group, are:

· natural presentation: participants should bring strong, meaningful and actual experience to the group. Weak and meaningless experiences should not be presented.

· natural response: participants should give the sincere reaction to events occurring in the group, to presentation of another participant, etc.

· limited sharing: the responses and reactions relates to the group context situation; these are managed by hidden norms and rules.

· synchronization: maintaining the balance of sharing one's needs with the group needs or another participant's needs.

Remark: The leader's work is to teach and support the participants in their natural presentation and natural responses. If the participants want to be aware of themselves and of their process only, there would be no connection and no relations between the members. So the main issue for the group leader in this case will be to create and support creation of the relationship between the members. The new experience could be born only while contacting.

Gestalt therapist, psychodramatist, GATLA trainer, head of MIGIP. During her 25 years in psychology, Nadezhda led more than 200 therapeutic and learning groups.
Nadezhda Lubyanitskaya
Rector of MIGIP
Gestalt therapist, trainer, GATLA group leader, supervisor. Leads therapeutic, learning and supervising groups in MIGIP more than 20 years.
Svyatoslav Rumanov
Leading trainer in MIGIP
MIGIP was founded in Moscow 23 years ago by gestalt trainer Nifont Dolgopolov.
Now MIGIP is the 3rd largest gestalt institute in Europe.
MIGIP has its branches in 43 regions of Russia and ex-Soviet republics.
Since foundation more than 2500 students graduated from MIGIP in Moscow only.
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