Spielgestalt (SGL) is a fledgling venture interested in exploring the clear benefits (and occasional downsides) of combining play ("spielen") and playfulness with the Gestalt approach in providing psychotherapy to both children and adults.
Winnicott (1971, p.51) famously proclaimed that "psychotherapy has to do with two people playing together". Gestalt therapy treasures relationship and experimentation. There is a natural fit between play and Gestalt theory, long recognised not only by child therapists (e.g. Oaklander (1978), Blom (2004)) but also by those who value the creative approaches of art, music, drama, puppetry and sand-tray work in adult psychotherapy (e.g. Polster (1973), Zinker (1978) and Mackewn (1997). Neurobiology is beginning to add a scientific underpin to the value of play experiences (Kestly (2014))
As a child I enjoyed the family myth, affectionately retold, about my grandmother Mary's inability to cope with losing at draughts. As the possibility of losing came closer, Mary would regularly upend the entire board, branding her opponent a cheat and sending the draught pieces scattering across the floor. We all feel like that sometimes: too many unbearable losses and seemingly so often another person who defeats and shames us.
As an adult child counsellor I recall an enterprising ten year old who equally could not bear to lose; he made the different creative adjustment of changing the rules (snakes became ladders and vice versa, as necessary) in order to win every time.
In the real game of life, when things aren't going well, opting out of a relationship, or changing the rules can be problematic, yet also sometimes the solution. Through the immediacy of play, in relationship with and in the presence of a trusted other, we can learn more about ourselves, and safely experiment with different ways of being, making changes and taking risks.
"Playfulness is a poem written by the true self"
(Akhtar, 2011, p.73)