Following a very stimulating debate with Norm Friedman on the pros and cons of the Academic and Guild models of training in Gestalt therapy, I've put together some draft concepts of the "Metaphors" used to define/describe training. We'll be talking about training at the next Australiasian meeting of Gestalt therapists in two weeks, so I'd be interested in comments.
Metaphors of training
The metaphors used to describe gestalt training offer interesting phenomenological perspectives.
This metaphor focuses on the development of curriculum to teach core competencies. It rests on standards of accreditation and at it1s most basic is reduced to measuring competence by the number of hours in training.
The guild model conjures up images of the Middle Ages in Europe and the pervasive monopoly of the guilds, where the Masters guarded the secrets of their trade (both for economic and quasi religious reasons) and passed these secrets on to the appropriate apprentice.
The other image related to masters is a golfing metaphor. Golfers who have reached the pinnacle of the sport and are somewhat older than most, become the masters. Yet they train by using coaches who are not as talented but who nonetheless offer feedback to improve their skills.
The "master" metaphor highlights the importance of who you trained with, the establishment of societies, guilds or guardians of the tradition, and encourages an old boy (or girl ) network which determines competence.
A contrary image to the guild and masters metaphor, is that of flight training.. here the training involves specific measurable competencies and skills which are taught and evaluated. With this model of training to maintain competence once must regularly practice and keep up flight hours. While experience is valued in this metaphor (flight hours) this model acknowledges historical progression, so that the kitty hawk pioneers are antiquated in comparison to the top guns of today.
Martial arts offers another metaphor. Here one progresses via training in micro skills until achieving a certain demonstrable competence and shifts from a neophyte to a black belt. This is akin to the academic model of a set training program with competencies and standards of achievement. This model also has the master metaphor of the guilds.
Training in the arts combines the academic model and the guild models yet also highlights genius .. the potential for the student to quickly move beyond the trainer in competence.This is less emphasised in the other models. Hence not just who you train with but who you are determines outcome in this metaphor.
Religious mysticism model
People who wish to learn and progress start from an ego perspective and realise they are part of a bigger field and ultimately this field is the Godhead/Tao/Buddhahood/Enlightenment. This is a process of unlearning (phenomenological method) as well as learning and has the field as the ultimate trainer and the guru or master as assistants and temporary means-whereby to achieve this state of being. This model is represented in core gestalt concepts such as the wisdom of the organism, yet is not well represented as yet in training models.