The History, Theory and Community of Gestalt Therapy – By Václav Mikolášek

The History, Theory and Community of Gestalt Therapy

The History, Theory and Community of Gestalt Therapy
Exploring the New York Institute

By Václav Mikolášek

ISBN: 9781032283739

Book Description

This book tells the story of the community at the New York Institute for Gestalt Therapy (NYIGT) as it evolved in connection with the highly regarded theory it produced, examining some important turning points for the institute spanning the period from the early 1970s until 2020 and describing the more large-scale changes the community underwent.

Through chronologically ordered chapters, the history of the NYIGT is written in a documentary-style narrative complete with the voices of contemporary witnesses embedded into the storyline. The book explores the aggressiveness during community meetings that the institute was once known for, how the LGBTQIA community shaped the institute from the beginning, what changed when the institute began to be run democratically, its feminist revolution, as well as recent developments and the institute’s current group processes.

This historically rich work is essential reading for Gestalt therapists, other professionals interested in Gestalt approaches, and readers interested in the history of Gestalt therapy.

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Foreword by Dan Bloom


1. Aggressive Attitude

2. The NYIGT and the LGBT+ Community

3. Democratization of the Institute

4. The Women’s Caucus

5. Internationality


Afterword by Adam Weitz

The Author

Václav Mikolášek was born in 1983 in Prague. He graduated in computer science before moving to Vienna where he studied psychotherapy at the Sigmund Freud University. He lives in Vienna and works as a psychotherapist.


‘The book is more than a chronicle of the institute’s history. It is a critical analysis of the institute as a community from the perspective of gestalt therapy theory. It contains first person experiences that give a sense of the flesh and blood of the institute. It is difficult not to be stimulated — provoked — by some of the drama. It is a chronicle that includes strong personalities, rivalries, generational clashes, bruises, loyalty, love, and friendships.’


Dan Bloomfrom the Foreword

‘As a Gestalt therapist trained in the West Coast tradition, the importance of this book lies for me in the demystification of the New York Institute, the starting place of our approach. It documents honestly the power-oriented style of communication and the “tradition of aggression” as part of Gestalt therapy from the beginning and allows us to follow the process of democratization in which women played an important role. The book is an important contribution to understanding where we all come from and who we are.’


Bernd Bocian, Author of Fritz Perls in Berlin 1893 – 1933: Expressionism, Psychoanalysis, Judaism

‘Václav Mikolášek has done an impressive job of showing how historical changes over several decades within the New York Institute for Gestalt therapy, first established by gestalt therapy’s founders, reflect the evolution of the theory and practice of gestalt therapy itself. He traces the Institute’s shifts from autocratic rule to democratic consensus, from patriarchy to diversity, from individualistic ego-based aggression to an inclusive relational atmosphere, and onward to the current expansion of the relational into field theory. Mikolášek’s book is an important and illuminating contribution to the history of psychotherapy.’

Michael Vincent MillerPhD, Current President, New York Institute for Gestalt TherapyAuthor, Intimate Terrorism and Teaching a Paranoid to Flirt