Gestalt approach to learning

The Alchemy

Transformational learning

The transformative nature of this learning situation lies in the refinement of its design, content and approach.

The learning process, combined with the skill, expertise and experience of the course facilitators provide a unique methodology.

The Courage & Spark process offers insight learning honed over many years of delivering leadership and professional development learning experiences to people all over the world.

The safe, holding space

To begin with, we look to do two things:

  • Firstly – to create the space
  • Secondly – invite people to join the space.

The space we’re talking about is a deeper space – one that can hold people sufficiently for them to open up, dare to be braver, and risk vulnerability.

It’s a space of reflection, self-disclosure, support, and challenge. And sometimes it’s a silent space.

It’s worth keeping in mind that however well briefed people are, many still find it a surprising space – typically because they expect a ‘horizontal learning experience’ with a succession of inputs and slide presentations from the course ‘trainers’.

Most corporate training works that way so this is what many people are used to.

The term “Gestalt,” comes from a German word that roughly means pattern or form. The main tenet of the Gestalt theory is that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts; learning is more than just invoking mechanical responses from learners.


The Gestalt underpinnings

Courage and Spark© is based in principle of gestalt psychology which is both a theory of growth and, a philosophy of life, underpinned by a distinctive set of principles, values, and assumptions about people and change.

The main principles of the Gestalt Theory

  1. Teachers should encourage their students to discover the relationship of the elements that make up a problem
  2. Incongruities, gaps, or disturbances are essential stimuli in the learning process
  3. Educational instruction should be based on the Laws of Organization

We do not teach gestalt theory on the programme

It simply informs the way we work and the way we, as facilitators show up.

If you have a particular interest in Gestalt, the following are some of the ways in which you will see Gestalt in Action during Courage and Spark©.

A strong emphasis on awareness-raising and deepening of contact

In Gestalt, awareness is seen as the cornerstone of the developmental process. Growth and development occur when people expand their cognitive processes – what they can see and act on.

  • Awareness is our route into ourselves, others, and the relationships between us.
  • It is also the foundation of Emotional Intelligence.

A relational stance

From a Gestalt perspective, there are certain relational characteristics that are fundamental:

  • Respect
  • Non-judgment
  • Sensitivity
  • Support and courage.

Together these help to build connection and provide an environment of safety and authenticity.

The experiential present moment

When you watch a skilled Gestalt practitioner you will see that they are constantly sensing what is latent (present) in the moment that will suggest the next step.

You can see this as a focus on the here-and-now, the ‘figure ground’, and emerging process both at the individual and group levels.