Margherita Spagnuolo Lobb
is a licensed psychologist, psychotherapist and has been a Gestalt Therapy trainer since 1979. She is the founder and director of the Istituto di Gestalt HCC in Italy (Siracusa, Palermo, Milan).
She has introduced the work of the most relevant international Gestalt therapists to the Italian audience, and has developed an internationally spread relational model of Gestalt therapy.
In her work, Margherita considers the phenomenological and aesthetic soul of Gestalt therapy in a field perspective. Following an hermeneutic line from Perls, Hefferline, Goodman (1951) and Isadore From’s teaching, to Erving and Miriam Polster’s approach, and to her teaching/learning experience at the New York Institute for Gestalt Therapy, she integrates recent studies on neurosciences and infant research in a relational method that considers the reciprocity of intentional movements of psychotherapist and client.
In her perspective, psychotherapy is a process of transformation of the unitary nature of the organism/environment field (as well as the nature-culture, political-social one), while the contact boundary expresses the movement between them which leads to growth and individuation.
This perspective enables to leave the intrapsychic point of view in favor of a contextualized concept of change, based on the mutual regulation of the rhythms and perceptions of the therapist/client dyad (a dance), as the neurosciences and inter subjective theories make clear. The perception of the client and that of the therapist both change, and both these changes have to be taken into account.
Consequently, she redirects the concept of the here-and-now in the concept of the now-for-next (the title of her book). Besides, she looks at the client’s development as it is experienced in the here and now of the session, and defines the concept of polyphonic development of domains (or modalities of contact) to access the complexity of the patient’s being-there.
She considers the field as a phenomenological and aesthetic experience. The therapist – through the aesthetic relational knowledge – feels part of the experiential field of the client (embodied empathy) and uses his/her resonating to learn about “the other side of the moon” of the client’s suffering.
She finally switches the observation focus from the client to the phenomenological field s/he is in, and to the reciprocity, in other words the reciprocal act of moving-towards-the-other that characterizes the therapeutic relationship. Dance is for her the most appropriate concept for a phenomenological, aesthetic and field oriented psychotherapeutic approach, which she describes in procedural dance steps between psychotherapist and client.
She is recently working on an observational tool, validated by research, to look at the “dance steps” between psychotherapist and client. This instrument is for research, training and supervision purposes.
On this epistemological basis, Spagnuolo Lobb has constructed models for specific clinical situations (see her work).
Margherita leads Gestalt therapy workshops and training programs in more than 20 countries. She also cooperates worldwide with various research groups on psychotherapy. She is the director of the Advanced International Training Programs in Gestalt Therapy Field Approach to Development and Psychopathology, of training Programs for Supervisors and of Summer Programs for psychotherapists (personal work and professional update).
She has been President and is now first Honorary Member of the European Association for Gestalt Therapy (EAGT), Founder and Honorary President of the Italian Association for Gestalt Psychotherapy (SIPG), President of the Italian Federation of Recognized Gestalt Training Institutes (FISIG), President of the Italian Federation of Psychotherapy Methods (FIAP). She is a Full Member of the New York Institute for Gestalt Therapy (NYIGT), of the Society of Psychotherapy Research (SPR), of Society for Gestalt Theory and its Applications (GTA), of the International Association of Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy (IARPP).
She has received (first woman and the first European) the Lifelong Achievement Award from the Association for the Advancement of Gestalt Therapy (AAGT) (Toronto, Canada, August 2018).
She has also received from the Psychological Council of Sicily (OPRS) a recognition for having allowed, with her work, an advancement in the field of national and Sicilian psychology (Palermo, Italy, October 2018).
She is one of the founders of the European Conferences of Gestalt Therapy Writers (EAGT). She organized the 6th European Conference of Gestalt Therapy (Palermo, October 1998), the 7th International Conference of Gestalt Therapy (Naples, November 2002), the Second Italian Conference of all methods of Psychotherapy (Siracusa, April 2005) and she is one of the four conveners of the first joint AAGT and EAGT Conference (Taormina, 2016), titled “The Aesthetic of Otherness: meeting at the boundary in a desensitized world“.
She is director of the Gestalt Therapy Book Series (www.gestaltitaly.com, since 2020 published by Routledge), and of the Italian Journal Quaderni di Gestalt (since 1985), and of the Italian Gestalt Therapy Book Series (published by FrancoAngeli). She has edited seven books, authored two books and hundreds of papers and chapters on various aspects of Gestalt therapy theory and method. Her most recent book, The Now-for-Next in Psychotherapy. Gestalt Therapy Recounted in Post Modern Society (2013) is available in English, Italian, Russian, French, Spanish, Romanian, Polish and Georgian (coming soon).
- Honorary President of Italian Association for Gestalt Therapy (SIPG)
- Honorary Member of European Association for Gestalt Therapy (EAGT)
- Lifelong Achievement Award from The Association for the Advancement of Gestalt Therapy, an International Community (AAGT) (Toronto, Canada, August 16, 2018)
- Recognition from the Psychological Council of Sicily (OPRS) for the advancement of national and Sicilian psychology (Palermo, Italy, October 2018).
The art of Gestalt Therapy
Eds. Margherita Spagnuolo Lobb and Nancy Amendt-Lyon