I appreciate your response; we share some understanding of how Gestalt works with people who have significant relationships with psychoactive drugs. There are several salient points that jump to mind. (1) You are correct, sir, in noting the advantage of novelty in substance abuse treatment. Most clients have been over-exposed to the dominant treatment approach in this country, namely, that associated with the American disease model. Simply doing something new generates interest and hope. (2) Gestalt understanding (I am always promoting), is metatheoretical, that is, itís about the nature of Nature. Drug users donít like being stereotyped any more than anyone else; Gestalt practice, by definition, treats people as individuals. And, (3) Gestalt theory informs a truly ethical approach to working with drug users. It is (again, by definition) free of fixed bias. This was one of the points I was making in the Gestalt Journal article (which I am always promoting).
Concerning the experiment you plan in group work, it reminds me of "Chemical Loss Therapy", a Gestalt approach to large group work Iíve been doing for more than 15 years. In this experience, the therapists (or co-therapists) work with one client at a time in the presence of several other clients. The working client is mobilized into the drug experience, typically, the euphoric memory of it. By entering the drug experience, in the here and now, in the fullness of an organismic experiment, the client comes to terms (i.e., completes the gestalt) of that experience. Itís all so natural and wonderful, and effective, that it hardly needs explanation. But, I have, nevertheless, described this process in detail Ė and will offer it to someone for publication soon.
And, finally (I think), the artificial therapeutic boundaries between substance use and all other human issues must become permeable. The idea of substance abuse treatment constituting a separate "discipline" is, it strikes me, rather silly. One of my modest goals is to ensure the destruction of this discipline.
I will love continuing this discussion with you. I am aware of envy, that of you starting a new group. Very exciting.