About Us

GTILA is a membership organization whose mission is to advance and promote the exchange of knowledge and expertise regarding the field of gestalt therapy among its members, with the professional community, and with the community at large.

Our Purpose

  • Promote the application of gestalt therapy principles.
  • Promote a dialogue on gestalt therapy theory within the gestalt therapy community.
  • Promote a dialogue between gestalt therapy and other theories.
  • Function as a catalyst for community building and as a support network for its members.
  • Promote quality of standards concerning the clinical application of gestalt therapy.
  • Provide scholarships to those in need, who want to train at one of our two affiliated Los Angeles training programs, Gestalt Associates Training Los Angeles (GATLA) and Pacific Gestalt Institute (PGI).

Working Together Toward Change

GTILA is a community dedicated to a continual engagement in dialogue: a practice of experiencing others wholly and authentically, and sharing phenomenological awareness. Through this dialogical practice, the board members of GTILA have come to recognize the privilege of our community, and we are committing to expand the GTILA network to be more inclusive of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color). We are a work in progress and will continue to engage in developing a deeper understanding of our racial biases, in an effort towards change. We are resolute in our dedication to engage in the dialogue with BIPOC community members and educators to aid in our growth. Additionally, we have established BIPOC scholarships for the study of Gestalt therapy, are inviting BIPOC Gestalt therapists in the LA area to become board members, and are implementing opportunities for white members of GTILA to investigate their own understanding of their whiteness, privilege, and racial biases, in an effort to create a more just world. Finally, we would like to invite members of the community to provide suggestions and feedback in support of our efforts towards change.

Learn About Gestalt Therapy

Salon Series

GTILA presents a series of salons which provide an opportunity to learn about some aspect of Gestalt Therapy in a relaxed, informal setting. Salons are free and members receive CEUs at no cost while non-member participants may request CEUs for a minimal fee. All people interested in Gestalt Therapy are welcome to attend Salons. GTILA does not discriminate in its education or membership activities based on race, national or ethnic origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or any other characteristic protected under applicable law.

Our History

The Gestalt Therapy Institute of Los Angeles (GTILA) is a community of gestalt therapists that was established in 1969 by Frederick S. Perls, M.D., James Simkin, Ph.D. and others for the purposes of promoting the development, application, and competent practice of Gestalt Therapy. For over 30 years, GTILA also provided an ongoing “hands on” gestalt therapy training program in Los Angeles for mental health professionals.

GTILA now functions as a membership organization whose mission is to advance and promote the exchange of information and expertise regarding the field of gestalt therapy among its members, with the professional community, and with the community at large.

From Awareness, Dialogue, and Process, preface to the German edition, by Gary Yontef

What is Relational Gestalt Therapy?

“Relational Gestalt Therapy considers the therapeutic relationship crucial and focuses on the causes of disruptions in the relationship and on the effects of these disruptions.

There has been an increasing recognition of the power of the relational aspects of therapeutic work in promoting growth, healing severe disturbances, but also for inhibiting growth and even harming patients. While contact is the basic unit of relationship, i.e., contacting establishes relationship, the relationship also shapes contact. The impact on the patient of the therapist’s attitude, behavior, and meta-messages is just now beginning to get the attention it needs. There is now an established Gestalt therapy shame literature that calls attention to iatrogenic triggering and enhancement of shame in psychotherapy and in training.

Relational Gestalt therapy has moved to an attitude that includes more support, more emphasis on kindness and compassion in therapy, and that combines sustained empathic inquiry with crisp, clear, and relevant awareness focusing. It has moved beyond the confrontation, catharsis, and drama emphasis of the 1960’s and 1970’s. It has moved beyond the more camouflaged shaming by therapists who are insensitive to their shame-triggering attitudes and behaviors.

In Gestalt therapy theory the essential nature of self is relational. The self is defined as the interaction of person and environment; self is the “system of contacts necessary for adjustment in the difficult field…Self …is not itself isolated from the environment; …it belongs to both, environment and organism (Perls, Hefferline, and Goodman, p. 151).”