Jeffrey A. Schaler, Ph.D.







The Psychnews International acts as a neutral publication,
providing information and discussion space for all kinds of 
topics. While not subscribing to particular political,
ideological, epistemological, methodological, and theoretical
approaches, we feel particular committed to report on views
that usually do not reach the mass media and the mainstream
publications on mental-health-related issues. 

This news report on the "crisis of Gestalt therapy" is special
in several regards. 

First, in the context of our mission depicted above, we would
like to stress the fact that the PsychNews International and 
its predecessor, the InterPsych Newsletter (ISSN# 1355-2562) 
has been able to maintain discussion on an important topic on
a continuous basis, utilizing Internet channels.

First, we published Dr. Schaler's article entitled Bad Therapy
in the November 1995 issue of the InterPsych Newsletter, 2(9)
(available at Mr. Gunsberg followed
up on and complemented problems associated with Gestalt therapy
in a PsychNews article with the title "We Accuse". The article
is available at
PNI3_1.c; background material related to this contribution,
including a copy of "Bad Therapy" can be found at

Second, this article is special because it presents information
in the public domain, without special editing. E.g. this news
report exposes a continuation of the ongoing discussion
that has developed its own dynamics and speaks for itself.

This material -- public correspondence from Mr. Wysong --
was made available to the PsychNews International by 
a colleague on September 19, 1996. Apparently, Dr. Schaler's
article "Bad Therapy" was lifted from the back issues of 
the Interpsych Newsletter, formerly stored at

Are there major problems regarding the ethical standards
by which Gestalt therapists abide? Do Gestalt therapists feel
the need to employ implicit censorship for concealing certain
activities? Dr. Schaler and Mr. Gunsberg firmly believe in this, 
expressed in the two articles named above. The PsychNews has also 
offered "neutral discussion grounds" on the Net and, alternatively,
extended invitations to respond to the grave critiques at No substantive replies and/or discussion 

We continue to offer publication of relevant statements, either
by emailing responses to the PsychNews mailbox or by actively
discussing this at Psych-CI (for subscription, email, subject line empty, message body:
subscribe psych-ci firstname lastname). Everyone interested in
this issue is cordially invited to contribute and engage in 
constructive discussion, especially Gestalt therapists, their 
training institutions and professional guilds.

Editor-in-Chief, PsychNews International

P.O. BOX 990
Highland, NY  12528-0990
Telephone:  914-691-7192
Fax:  914-691-6530

TO:    More than 200 members of the Gestalt community
FROM:  Joe Wysong
DATE:  March 24, 1996

The enclosed article, Bad Therapy, by Dr. Jeffrey Schaler,
was sent to me by the associate editor of a major magazine
with a circulation in the millions.  The editor also included
a recording of the event described in the article.  The
article has been "self-published" on the World Wide Web and
an alert Web surfer spotted it and sent a printout to the
editor.  I don't know how the editor obtained the tape
recording.  (For those of you who care, the article is
located on the WWW at " [SIC, PsychNews]."
If you are just cutting your "web teeth," make sure you
include the title before "grohol" or you won't connect.  The page is a
privately maintained and sponsored mental health page.

The working title for the magazine article, if published, is:
"Gestalt Therapy:  Is It as Dangerous Now as it was Then?"
The editor made two requests:  first, that I don't reveal the
magazine's name as they don't want to receive hundreds of
phone calls before deciding whether or not to publish the
article (they have not, at this point in time, contacted
Schaler because the decision to publish has not been made).
Second, that I, as editor of the oldest (and preeminent)
journal of Gestalt therapy, compose a response to Schaler's
article.  You might want to take a few moments to read it
before finishing this as several of the points I make will be
much clearer if you have read the article.

After reading the article I listened to the recording.
Schaler's description of the events is unerringly accurate.
As I did not attend the AAGT conference, I sent a copy of
the article to Michael Vincent Miller who did attend.
Michael agrees that Schaler's portrayal is correct.  I have
also obtained a copy of the conference program.  Schaler's
quotes from the program are 100% accurate.

As the potential for disaster to Gestalt therapy (especially
to training institutes) is huge, Michael suggested that,
rather than a solo response from me, we instead offer a
letter signed by as many of the leaders in the Gestalt
community as possible that decries the events that took
place and places Gestalt therapy in proper perspective, a
letter that also makes clear that AAGT is not a professional
organization (it is open  to anyone) and, with only 125
current dues paying members, does not represent the Gestalt
community.  At our offices, we consider any individual who,
in the last eighteen months, has subscribed to the Journal,
purchased a book or recording (we don't count sales of
Windows to Our Children because most of its sales are outside
the Gestalt community), listed themselves in The Gestalt
Directory, or attended one of our conferences "a member of
the Gestalt community."  As of March 1, that count was 4561
in North America alone.  Clearly, whatever or whomever AAGT
represents, it isn't the Gestalt community at large.

I hope I can persuade the editor not to publish the article
at all so it can be left to the relative obscurity of the
Web.  If I fail, we should have a response ready!

Schaler is probably unknowledgeable regarding libel laws so
omitted the names of the "contemporary master gestalt
therapists (sic)."  The editor, knowledgeable regarding such
matters, will include their names and professional
affiliations if the article is published.  They are, in the
order they appear in the program, Irma Lee Shepard of the
Pine River Center, Richard Kitzler of the New York Institute
for Gestalt Therapy, and Robert Resnick of the Gestalt
Therapy Institute of Los Angeles.

In our response, we will make clear that AAGT has no
community authority to "ordain" master therapists and that we
totally disapprove of the concept of their behavior.
Granting such authority to the handful of AAGT members who
served on the conference planning committee is gross
misjudgement (sic) and, I believe, an act of professional

It concerns me that AAGT is planning another conference for
April of 1997 and that the same group is in control of the
program.  A repeat performance, most likely in another form,
is sure to come.

Most of you are aware of the extreme hostility the dozen or
so people controlling AAGT have for me and, indirectly, for
The Gestalt Journal.  What you don't know is how it got
started.  For several years we had, quite graciously I
believe, invited what evolved into AAGT to meet the day
before our conference (at our expense) and, to showcase their
efforts, offer an AAGT presentation as part of our
conference.  They presented panels, organized cocktail
receptions (again, at our expense), etc.  All went fine until
the planning stages for our Toronto conference.  They
withheld their plans from us until just over a month before
the conference and then informed us that they planned a
presentation similar to the one that took place in New

Immediately recognizing the potential for a publicity
disaster in a locale we were visiting especially to rebuilt
(sic) the local Gestalt community, I absolutely refused to
allow the presentation to take place _because I knew exactly
what would take place and how it would appear!_  The result
was that a few individuals went to the Toronto AAGT meeting,
slandered my reputation (at least they left my dog out of
it), and organized a competing conference without even asking
for our input before making the decision.  I took strong
exception to their behavior and have been AAGT's kicking post
ever since.

Gore Vidal says that the four sweetest words in the English
language are "I told you so."  In this case, I find them
bittersweet.  If this article is published, Gestalt therapy
will be facing the biggest crisis in history.  As managed
health care takes over the mental health services, insurance
companies are looking for more justification for rejecting
the "talking cure" for the faster, more economical,
pharmaceutical approach.  If this article is published
without a strong condemnation from the true "Gestalt
community," insurers will have the ammunition to wipe Gestalt
therapy off the map.

Michael Miller and I will draft a response and send it to
each of you for your consideration.  We will not deny the
accuracy of Schaler's description of events nor will we argue
with most of the conclusions he draws.  What took place was a
display of therapy at its worst in a setting that would
hopefully have shown Gestalt therapy at its best and we must
acknowledge that.  It must be made clear that AAGT does not
represent Gestalt therapy and has no authority to anoint
"contemporary master gestalt therapists."

If we fail to offer a strong, unified rebuttal to Schaler's
article, we, by our passivity, are as guilty as those who
organized the conference striking Gestalt therapy a mortal

Two final thoughts.  As the magazine's circulation is in the
millions and caters to the intellectual left, where we need
the most support, my hope is to convince the editors not to

While Michael and I expect each of you to contribute to the
fine-tuning of the response, we want you to keep in mind that
getting a consensus from 250 people could become a time-
consuming task.  When the draft letter reaches you, please
don't put it aside.  Give it your immediate attention so we
can include as much of your input as possible.

Consider this a public, not private, communication and share
it with anyone you believe should see it.  I ask that you not
pass on this letter without including a copy of Schaler's
article so my comments can be read in context.

My best,

[PsychNews:  A follow-up letter from Mr. Wysong was again sent
out, commenting on non-distribution of the article in question.]

P.O. BOX 990
Highland, NY  12528-0990
Telephone:  914-691-7192
Fax:  914-691-6530
June 20, 1996

Dear Friend of Gestalt Therapy:

As you will remember, I wrote you about three months ago in
reference to the possible publication of "Bad Therapy,"
Jeffrey Schaler's critique of the demonstration workshops at
the New Orleans conference last October.  I am pleased to
report that the article will not be published.

I want to thank all of you (over 200) who either called or
wrote offering your support and/or assistance.

I especially want to thank the few whose additional efforts
aided in convincing the editor not to publish.
Joe Wysong