Guest Blogger: Anne Brennan Belden, MS, PCC
If you have never stepped foot onto the ethereal grounds of the Gestalt International Study Center (GISC), consider giving yourself the gift of a visit. Tucked away off the beaten path of Route 6 on Cape Cod, just outside Wellfleet, the grounds immediately invite one to slow down, reflect, connect and absorb. Fascinating people come from all over the world to be part of the community, learn and share. GISC offers an interesting array of programs on Gestalt theory and practice for a wide range of professionals, all of which can be viewed on the GISC website.
GISC figures prominently for me personally in my development as a coach. There are many paths to becoming a coach, as we all know. Some of these require formal training, as in any number of ICF accredited programs, and others are well travelled paths working in other professions which people have then brilliantly translated into a coaching career. After attending my first GISC program, entitled The Next Phase, I became determined to parlay my own professional career in non-profit management and my graduate degree in Human Development/Family Relations into a coaching practice. I also knew I wanted the additional ICF accreditation training to support my goals.
What most attracted me to Gestalt theory and practice, was that it offered a deeper theoretical foundation from which to work, which my other, more traditional coach training, did not provide. And indeed, they have dove-tailed beautifully. There are many foundational tenets of Gestalt, which will be covered in our workshop on March 10. What I would like to share a bit about here is a foundational piece of the Cape Cod Model, coming out of GISC, that makes it unique from other Gestalt practice; this piece is “Optimism.”
Optimism is the thread that is woven throughout the Cape Cod Model. It is a belief that one moment can make a tremendous difference; a difference in understanding, in perspective, even in connection. One of those basic Gestalt tenets is “Contact” – which we grow to the extent that we are in contact with our environment. Thus, Gestalt practice creates powerful moments between people. If we are coming from an optimistic stance that says people are always doing the best they can, those moments have the potential to impact greatly on a client’s awareness. Optimism opens up energy, making us available for all kinds of new or newly framed opportunities, whereas pessimism makes us vigilant, tight, narrowly-focused and often times closed. An optimistic stance isn’t a re-framing, or flipping, of what seems bad or negative, but it is an entire approach to how we see and interact with the world. Optimism gives us courage to try things.
I’d like to just introduce you to the unique Cape Cod Model (CCM), which we will be practicing at our workshop, to whet your appetite. The CCM is a sequential model of intervention – of intervening from an optimistic stance.
Here are the steps:
- Build trust and connection with the client/client system
- Look for what is “well developed” in the client/ client system, rather than looking at what is “right” and deliver this observation to the client
- Look for what is “less developed” in the client/ client system and deliver this observation, using specific data you have gathered.
- Do a “Let’s try.” This is often built off of the well developed traits, and is co-created with the client, making sure it is small enough to take on and assimilate.
- Meaning Making – what stood out for the client in #4
- Summarize learning from the session.
During our workshop we will actually practice this model in small groups, so that you get a chance to try it on yourself and see how it fits. Please join us March 10 from 3pm – 7:30pm in Portland Maine to experience Gestalt practice for yourself.