Psychopathology of the Situation in Gestalt Therapy – Edited By Margherita Lobb & Pietro Cavaleri

Psychopathology of the Situation in Gestalt Therapy

Psychopathology of the Situation in Gestalt Therapy
A Field-oriented Approach

Edited By Margherita Lobb, Pietro Cavaleri

ISBN: 9781032322025

Book Description

This collection explores the impacts and new ways of treatment of difficult clinical situations, in the uncertainty of a world in crisis, through a phenomenological and aesthetic field-oriented lens. 

Each author offers a Gestalt-centered perspective on clinical issues – a situational window, which includes the therapist and avails itself of tools configured to modify the entire experiential field. Through clinical case studies and theoretical reflections, the book examines the experience of children, difficult childhood situations (such as separations, abuse, neurodevelopmental disorders, adolescent social closure), the experience of dependency, couples and family therapy, the condition of the elderly and the end of life, interventions for degenerative diseases, and the trauma of loss and mourning, all of which are considered according to two cardinal points: first, the description of the relational ground experiences of patients, and second, the aesthetic relational knowing, a field perspective which allows the presence of the therapist to be modulated.

Psychopathology of the Situation in Gestalt Therapy: A Field-oriented Approach is essential reading for Gestalt therapists as well as all clinicians with an interest in phenomenological and aesthetic understanding of the complexity of clinical situations. 

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Scott D. Churchill

Editors’ Introduction

Part 1: Psychopathology of the Situation

1. Psychopathological Situations in a Post-Pandemic World.

Gestalt Therapy in Emergent Clinical Fields

Margherita Spagnuolo Lobb and Pietro A. Cavaleri

2. Working on the Ground, on Aesthetics, and on the “Dance”.

Aesthetic Relational Knowledge and Reciprocity

Margherita Spagnuolo Lobb

Beyond slogans: connecting individuals in a community

A comment by Erving Polster

3. Global Unrest and the Anthropological Perspective of Gestalt Therapy

Pietro A. Cavaleri

The World Crisis and Gestalt Therapy: Response to Cavaleri

A comment by Gary Yontef

4. Phenomenology and Gestalt psychotherapy. New challenges under-the-radar

Pietro A. Cavaleri

5. The Gestalt Clinical Data Sheet: a Phenomenological, Aesthetic, and Field Instrument for Gestalt Psychotherapy and Supervision

Margherita Spagnuolo Lobb, Elisabetta Conte, Maria Mione

Part II: Psychopathological Situations in the Clinical Fields of Human Relations

6. Ring-a-ring o’ Roses, A Pocket Full of Posies. Gestalt Psychotherapy and Childhood Suffering

Silvia Tosi and Elisabetta Conte

7. Children of “broken” relationships: repairing the ground of parental experience

Paola Canna and Manuela Partinico

8. Gestalt psychotherapy and complex trauma in preadolescence. How to support the integration of the body, emotions, and words.

Rosanna Militello

9. To be or not to be autistic: from the camouflage effect to élan vital. A Gestalt perspective

Antonio Narzisi

10. Adolescents in Eclipse. Journey notes from the labyrinth of social withdrawal

Michele Lipani

11. Addiction as persistent trauma in the ground experience: neurobiology and Gestalt psychotherapy

Giancarlo Pintus and Maria Luisa Grech

12. Conflict in Couple Relationships as Space for Recognition. An opportunity that is still possible in the post-pandemic world

Pietro A. Cavaleri

13. Working with families in Gestalt psychotherapy

Giuseppe Sampognaro

14. Gestalt Psychotherapy and Ageing

Alessandra Merizzi

15. Gestalt psychotherapy and the relationship with the chronic patient: accepting and supporting the experience of loss through an aesthetic gaze

Alessandra Vela and Donatella Buscemi

16. For whom the bells do not toll. The processing of bereavement in our time

Carmen Vàzquez Bandìn


Santo Di Nuovo

Biographical Notes


The Editors

Margherita Spagnuolo Lobb (Italy)

Margherita Spagnuolo Lobb, PsyD, is a Gestalt psychotherapist, director of Istituto di Gestalt Human Communication Center Italy (; Scientific Director of International Training Programs in “Gestalt Therapy Psychopathology and Development”; and “Gestalt therapy Supervisors”. Editor of the Journal Gestalt Therapy Journal, and of the Gestalt Therapy Book Series (Routledge). She has received the Lifelong Achievement Award from AAGT (2018).

Pietro A. Cavaleri, PhD, PsyD, is a Gestalt Psychotherapist, and Trainer at Istituto di Gestalt HCC, Italy. He has taught at the University of Palermo, at LUMSA University and at the Pontifical Faculty of Educational Sciences “Auxilium”. He has been psychologist in chief at the Public Health Service and counselor for social policies of Caltanissetta


“Psychopathology of the situation in Gestalt Therapy presents a tour de force of innovative thinking in the field of Gestalt therapy. Editor Margherita Spagnuolo Lobb and Pietro Cavaleri have assembled a gifted group of clinicians, theoreticians and researchers who tackle a daunting task: the reimagining of Gestalt therapy from a thoroughly relational and field-oriented perspective, wherein human suffering is treated in its situational, relational context. With intellectual rigor and innovation, deep humanism and clinical relevance this book reflects the many years of international teaching, training, writing and mentorship that Spagnuolo Lobb has given to the Gestalt therapy field. I highly recommend this collection to all who wish to expand their understanding of current thinking and methodology in psychotherapy.”

Peter Cole, LCSWCo-Director: The Sierra Institute for Contemporary Gestalt Therapy


“This excellent book pinpoints the central psychotherapeutic task today. In a demanding world that changes with bewildering force and speed, the meeting of therapist and client becomes a healing microcosm of situational possibility – an energised sanctuary and rehearsal space for relational, embodied, and experimental development. The writers describe their holistic encounters with suffering and confused others, the aesthetic qualities of their “dances” together, and how these can support, en-courage, and re-energise the clients’ life situations. The book is a powerful reminder to continue exploring way beyond the “intra-psychic” realm.”

Malcolm Parlett PhD, Author of Future Sense: Five explorations of Whole Intelligence for a world that’s waking up.


“As the author/editors of this valuable new collection point out, our Gestalt therapy were visionary in laying out the primacy of field, embodiment, relationship and ground in human nature and process; yet often reverted to reified, dichotomous terms in applying their radical ideas to actual persons in clinical and life situations. This exciting, much-needed new collection, revisites that primacy in our post pandemic time, offering us a complex vision based in aesthetics and reciprocity, encompassing self and other, relationship and embodiment, identity and diversity, neuroscience and experience and more. Essential and exciting reading.”

Gordon Wheeler, President, Esalen Institute; author of Gestalt Reconsidered, Beyond Individualism, Gestalt Therapy and other titles.


“Psychopathology of the Situation makes a substantial contribution to the field of therapeutic treatment in the uncertainty of a world in crisis. Drawn from the combined years of these authors’ expertise, skillful and practical applications offer indispensable ways for therapists to attend to the suffering of their patients. This book, essential for both therapist and layperson, will help diverse groups of individuals navigate themselves in this fast-changing world.”

Ruella Frank, PhDFirst Year and the Rest of Your Life: Movement, Development and Psychotherapeutic Change, Moving Self: The Bodily Roots of Experience in Psychotherapy


“The world situation for us clinicians and those whom we treat has taken on urgency in the face the global pandemic. This book is a blend of practical wisdom and thoughtful insights as gestalt psychotherapists address this urgency at the psychological, anthropological, sociological, phenomenological, and neurobiological levels — all within a phenomenological, aesthetic and field perspective, the hallmarks of a contemporary approach.”

Dan Bloom, JD, LCSWpsychotherapist, Fellow, past-president, New York Institute for Gestalt Therapy