Paul Barber

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"So who am I and what is my dharma? I am at core a Gestalt practitioner informed by humanism, group analysis and Taoism, who seeks to help individuals, groups, communities and the wider society heal themselves though facilitative inquiry into the influences we draw together to co-construct our world view.

"I'm a former director of the Human Potential Research Group at the University of Surrey and have co-developed MSc’s in Change Agent Skills and Strategies, and in Management Consultancy. I teach Gestalt in organisations and therapy internationally, and as a visiting Professor at Middlesex University I facilitate research on the Doctorate in Psychotherapy. I'm also an associate editor of the British Gestalt Journal and a practising psychotherapist...

"During this period I began training in martial arts (Karate), undertook an MSc in Education and Administration at Edinburgh University, married and became a father. I developed immensely watching my son Marc grow, reliving through him my own childhood and earlier life challenges. I also attended encounter groups within the Human Potential Research Group at the University of Surrey with John Heron and James Kilty and trained in humanistic psychology. Humanism and therapeutic community principles of reality confrontation, democratic process, community and permissiveness inform me still.

"In the 1980s I applied humanism and therapeutic community practice to education and the public sector. After being recruited to the Royal College of Nursing to develop nurse tutors, I joined with the Association of Therapeutic Communities and group analysts from the Tavistock and Institute of Group Analysis to initiate a programme in Therapeutic Community Practice for medics, social workers and nurses. Squaring humanism and Gestalt with group analysis was not easy.

"I trained to black-belt in Aikido and Iaido (Japanese sword-work), and travelled throughout the UK as an educational consultant validating Project 2000 courses for the UKCC (now the Nursing and Midwifery Council). Having become 'respectable' quite surprised me, but I realised to foster lasting cultural change you had first to be accepted, then facilitate from the inside...

"In this decade I trained as a Gestalt therapist at the Metanoia Institute with Professor Petruska Clarkson (a great teacher) and Sue Fish (a great therapist), before leaving to train further at Gestalt Southwest with Professor Malcolm Parlett (a lively explorer) and Marianne Fry (an uncompromising and loving soul). Marianne was heavily transpersonal, intuitive and fiercely compassionate in a Zen warrior way. .. "In the 1990s I applied humanism, Gestalt and group analysis to education, being recruited by the Human Potential Research Group at the University of Surrey to design and co-deliver an MSc in Change Agent Skills and Strategies - the first programme of its kind. My facilitation of the 'Developing Groups and Teams' strand drew attention from industry, which in turn led to an academic-commercial partnership to deliver this MSc in a commercial setting as a vehicle for organisational learning and cultural renewal. This partnership subsequently sired the UK's first MSc in Management Consultancy..." [1]


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  1. gestaltinaction About, organizational web page, accessed July 18, 2013.