I greatly appreciate the most recent posting by Joe Wysong on the relationship between Gestalt psychology and Gestalt therapy. In it, the author writes, "Given these changes we have made, it is unlikely that traditional Gestalt theorists will accept Gestalt therapy as a direct descendant of their system; and I suggest that we do not try to assert such a close relationship. We can acknowledge frankly that we have made a value choice different than that of the Gestalt theorists, and similar to that made by Lewin and Goldstein."
Previously in that article the author also made a distinction between the positions of the Gestalt psychologists on the objective bases of Gesalten as applied to moral issues, and I found that a useful distinction. One of the objections I have had to a certain application of Gestalt therapy theory is the use of phenomenological method to reduce objectivity to irrelevance. Until reading that the original Gestalt psychologists regarded themselves more objective, in that they saw the actual conditions of the object one perceived to have a bearing on the formation of figure, and thus on the construction of meaning associated with that figure formation (just to add a bit here), I would feel like an apostate in the closet, because I believe that one's personal phenomenology is the truth for them, but I also believe there is something outside of each one of us that constitutes the actual truth, that is, what really happened if we could only be infinite and know it absolutely. Of course, one could say that would make no philosophical sense, because we couldn't talk about it, but that's another argument.
My point here is that it makes good sense, from the perspective of keeping our theoretical tenets compatible and internally consistent, to allow for the insights of the Gestalt psychologists who argued for an objective aspect to phenomenology/perception/figure formation, since that also fits well with our existential heritage in the dialogical. Afterall, there must be another, an actual "thou," rather than one's imagination of another, in order for true dialogue to take place. There must be difference for true contact to occur. If there is, then there must be an objective truth, the meeting of two phenomonelogies.
I disagree with the author who writes that we should not try to own our roots in Gestalt psychology. I appreciate his history on the development of Gestalt therapy theory, but I think we would loose quite a bit to say that we do not have these roots. Furthermore, I believe the insights of those who grew out of Gestalt psychology, and developed an interpersonal psychotherapy from it, can now be seen to have insight for those more firmly within the original traditions themselves. The two finding one another is a benefit for all those who live in the here and now.
We are at point when the insights of both can be used to inform and expand the whole. The original Gestalt psychology, when applied to the field of therapy can benefit from the developments of the therapeutic school begun with Perls, et.al., and Gestalt therapy theory can benefit from the discipline of a careful interaction with the principles discovered in Gestalt psychological research, and really of cognitive science, which it stimulated.