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Gestalt-Informed Supervision: What it’s like to be supervised by Sarah Mello

 - By Sarah LaFleur, Clinical Intern 2021-22


Gestalt supervision is not like other supervision I have received. It is not directive or analytical, nor didactic or theoretical. Gestalt is an embodied, relational theory that is focused upon the forces of awareness and contact in shaping psychotherapy. As such, Gestalt therapists are interested in the patterns of contact and degrees of awareness that their clients make with their environment. To discover these patterns and degrees, the therapist must enter into the therapeutic encounter with their own manner of contact and well of awareness – to explore, understand, and experience alongside and with the client in the service of the client.


My only other experience of Gestalt was that of watching a video where a confrontational and invasive Fritz Perls chain-smoked cigarettes while chastising his client, poor Gloria, about how she squirmed or moved her feet. Both impressions left me with a schizmed sense of interrogation and theatrics rather than a felt sense of presence and clarity. Much to my surprise, receiving supervision in a Gestalt framework involved no empty chairs, commentary on my feet, or chain-smoking of cigarettes.


Supervision with Sarah is marked by invitations, exchanges, and inquiries to notice and move with what occurs in “the field,” or the context which holds the experience within, between, and around me, us, and my clients….I leave supervision with an embodied sense of anchoring, as if I am situated more deeply into ‘the given,’ while also liberated to claim the fullness of myself. …I am allowed to ask and explore and I am allowed to guess and not know. I can be just as I am, and I am discovering that there is always safety and aliveness there.

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