Welcome Phil and John to the forum, and we're of to a fine start with a tasty debate re behaviour therapy and gestalt therapy. I agree that a therapy approach is best defined through an understanding of what I term the 4 P's - Philosophy - Personality Theory - Principles - Practice. The philosophical underpinning's are an important ground from which spring the Personality Theory and thence Principles and Practice. To copy Practice without a ground in the other three P's is perhaps less representative of that therapeutic approach. So just because I've watched the builder hammer nails doesn't make me a licensed builder etc. Yet to take John's point, here in Australia you can become a licensed owner-builder as long as the end product is passed by the council. So does philosophy beget practice or is this more of an interactive process?
I believe what is frequently overlooked, by both gestaltists and behaviourists, is the strong philosophical and theoretical overlap that exists between Gestalt therapy and Behaviour therapy and the behavioural ground which is a part of Gestalt Therapy.
Let me offer you a quote of 30 years ago from Perls -
< The plight of the psychology of our time is that we are basically divided into two classes: the one interested in behaviour and the other interested in awareness, or lack of awareness - be it called consciousness, experience or whatever. This is called the phenomenological approach which emphasises the messages that are self-evident - existential in the pure sense - that we receive though the organs of our senses..........
If we put these two together - the phenomenological approach, the awareness of what is, and the behavioural approach with its emphasis on behaviour in the now - then you have in a nutshell what we are trying to do in Gestalt therapy.>
This article was reprinted in 1970 in Gestalt Therapy Now, edited by Fagan and Shepherd, and in the same text there is a very interesting article by Elaine Kepner and Lois Brien titled Gestalt Therapy: A Behaviouristic Phenomenology, hence the title of my posting.
So while there is a use in understanding the clear boundaries between Gestalt therapy and Behaviour therapy, understanding the similarities is equally useful. I'd be interested to hear what others think of this.
I am in an interesting situation as I teach Gestalt Therapy through the Illawarra Gestalt Centre and also teach Behaviour Therapy at the University... so I am greatly interested in the inter-relationhip from philosophy to practice.
Perls, F. Four Lectures in Gestalt Therapy Now, by Fagan, J, and Shepherd, L., (1970), Science and Behavior Books.
Kepner, E. and Brien, L. Gestalt Therapy: A Behaviouristic Phenomenology, in Gestalt Therapy Now, by Fagan, J, and Shepherd, L., (1970), Science and Behavior Books.