Pittsburgh Gestalt Therapy Training Program for Professionals

Program Curriculum rev8-23

© Gestalt Institute of Pittsburgh


Mission Statement:

The mission of the Gestalt Institute of Pittsburgh is educate, enlighten an excite individuals and trainees about the theory, integration and application of Gestalt therapy.  We will provide the highest quality programs to individuals seeking training, personal development and support for their professional and personal endeavors.  The Institute is guided by belief in the wholeness of human experience, adherence to the highest ethical standards set forth by the fields of Psychology and Counseling and based in support of social justice values.

Program Description:

This program provides participants time and opportunity to acquire and practice the skills necessary to integrate Gestalt theory and methodology into their current professional style.

This 200-hour training program will be staffed by The Faculty of the Gestalt Institute of Pittsburgh.  The members of the faculty of the Pittsburgh Gestalt Therapy Training Program for Professionals are practicing therapists with over 30 years’ experience.  They have earned certificates for completing 2-year Gestalt Training programs and have participated in advanced Gestalt training for more than 30 years.

  • Thomas Petrone, Ed.D.  Licensed Psychologist, Licensed Professional Counselor
  • Maura Krushinski, Ed.D.  Licensed Psychologist, Licensed Professional Counselor
  • Kristy Carnahan, MA. Licensed Professional Counselor
  • Connie Kramer, MA. Licensed Professional Counselor
  • Stephanie Helsel Ph.D.  Licensed Professional Counselor (Adjunct)


Program Schedule:

Dates for each cohort are published a minimum of 4 months prior to the start of each training.  Hours per modules are as follows:

Module #1   Total hours:

Friday 6 TO 10                                      = 4.0

Saturday 9 TO 5 (1.5 HOUR LUNCH)         = 6.5

Sunday   9 TO 5 (1 HOUR LUNCH)            = 7.0

Total hours                   = 17.5

Modules #2 to #11 and #13 and #14 

Saturday 9 TO 5 (1.5 HOUR LUNCH)        = 6.5

Sunday    9 TO 5 (1 HOUR LUNCH)          = 7.0

 Total hours = 13.5 x 12 = 162

Module 12 (Retreat- Intensive Training Weekend):

Friday 6 TO 10                                   = 4.0

Saturday 9 TO 9 (2- 1HOUR breaks)       = 10

Sunday       9 TO 4:40 (1 HOUR LUNCH) = 6.5

Total hours                   = 20.5


Program Overview:

Training occurs in a group format that is educational, not therapeutic in nature. However we expect each participant to develop their capacity for self-integration, as well as, their ability to work within and contribute to group learning. There are 14 training weekends (Modules) conducted over two academic years

  • Year I: Introduction of the Gestalt Model including the contact boundary and its interruptions; practical problems of therapy with constructive solutions; awareness continuum, personal and professional growth; and therapeutic theory and implications.
  • Year II: Implementation of the Gestalt Therapy Model includes developing application and personal style into therapy practice, professional performance; confidence expansion; building a firm theoretical base to support and increase the repertoire of therapeutic response; increased personal and professional awareness of group dynamics, couple and family systems.

Program Goal:

The overall goal of this training experience is to provide participants with the opportunity to learn the theory and practice of Gestalt Therapy.  Participants explore new areas of professional development while gaining new tools and an expanded vision to explore the interpersonal relationship with greater effectiveness and depth of their Psychological and Counseling careers.

Program Objectives:

*Note: Objectives are divided into Levels I and II to clarify the distinctive quality of this two-year training program. Each level is then divided into categories that demonstrate the specific pedagogical focus of program objectives. Additionally, notes are included to illustrate program compatibility with the educational requirements for licensure as a professional counselor in Pennsylvania.

Program Objectives for Level I

*Note: This level is particularly conducive to supporting trainee development in the following core areas as defined by the educational requirements for licensure as a professional psychologist and professional counselor in Pennsylvania: Human Growth and Development, Social and Cultural Foundations, Helping Relationship, & Professional Orientation.

Learning objectives Level I: Upon completion of Level I participants will be able to:

  1. Summarize core concepts of Gestalt theory
  2. Describe multiple fundamental aspects of Gestalt theory relevant to diagnosing and treatment planning with mental health clients
  3. Practice a variety of Gestalt intervention techniques and analyze their efficacy in applying them to specific clinical settings and populations


The focus of Year I is for trainees to develop a working knowledge of the historical context, core concepts and practical application of Gestalt therapy. This knowledge serves as the foundation for skill development, which will be the focus of Year II. Participants will become familiar with:

  • The essential Gestalt therapy model for organismic function and dysfunction.
  • The concept of the contact boundary and the various interruptions that occur at that boundary (specifically, introjection, projection, retroflection, confluence and deflection). 
  • The awareness continuum, the concept of foreground and background, and the language of responsibility.
  • The use of the experiment (including enactment, directed behavior, fantasy, metaphors, polarities, dreamwork, and homework in Gestalt practice).
  • The historical development of Gestalt therapy theory, particularly the implications of the existential and phenomenological philosophies for therapeutic attitude and behavior.


Supervised Practice

Participants practice skill development under direct faculty supervision.  Using the roles of therapist, client and observer in triads, small group, and large group settings, trainees will learn to:

  • Develop skills that enable them to describe what they see and hear in a therapeutic setting in terms of Gestalt therapy theory.
  • Experience practical problems of counseling and therapy and develop skills to address those problems from a Gestalt perspective.
  • Receive observable feedback on their therapeutic style and constructive suggestions for expanding their range of therapeutic options.

Personal Development:

Because Gestalt therapy assumes personal involvement on the part of the therapist or facilitator, the training provides an opportunity for participants to engage in:

  • Intensive personal and professional growth experiences, which is used to illustrate Gestalt concepts and methodology, and provide experiential exposure.
  • Identification of blocks to professional effectiveness and the means to creatively incorporate those blocks into one’s personal style as assets.


Collegial Community:

Throughout the program the faculty concentrates on developing support within the training group that creates an atmosphere in which maximizing learning, personal growth and development of a collegial community are the primary areas of focus.  Colleagues in this training community are viewed as explicitly united in a common purpose and respectful of each other’s abilities to work towards that purpose.


Program Objectives for Level II

*Note: This level is conducive to supporting psychology and counseling development in all of the areas described under Level I, but also promotes learning in the following additional core areas as defined by the educational requirements for licensure as a professional counselor in Pennsylvania: Group work, appraisal, and clinical instruction.

Learning objectives Level II: Upon completion of Level II participants will be able to:


  1. Demonstrate and describe both core and in-depth concepts of Gestalt theory
  2. Describe, discuss and identify multiple aspects of Gestalt theory relevant to diagnosing and treatment planning with mental health clients
  3. Practice, integrate and utilize a variety of Gestalt intervention techniques and analyze their efficacy in applying them to specific clinical settings and populations


The focus of Year Two is development of essential skills of Gestalt therapy.  Trainees will:

  • Practice and develop their own therapeutic styles and utilize their range of skills in the therapeutic setting.
  • Create the ability to apply humor, expand clinical perspectives and interject enjoyment to the therapy experience.
  • Create an atmosphere of nurturing and creativity in the counseling/therapy setting.
  • Demonstrate the ability to assess strengths and problem areas in working with clients.
  • Integrate and become solidly grounded in Gestalt theory and embody it to the extent that they can move beyond being academician and technician, to application of the art of therapy.



Trainees will learn to:

  • Apply the basic knowledge and understanding of theoretical material presented in Year One to support client change in the therapeutic relationship. 
  • Apply additional theory and skill in a variety of areas including but not limited to, a Gestalt therapy approach to:


    • couples, family, and group systems
    • working with children and adolescents
    • elements of addictive behaviors and relationships
    • ethical considerations


  • Diagnose and assess in behavioral terms rather than diagnostic categories.
  • Utilize a process/systems approach to treatment.

Supervised Practice:

In addition to continuing the practice methods used in Year One, trainees will have the opportunity to:

  • Practice individual group facilitation.
  • Develop through observation and practice, with faculty guidance and peer support, co-facilitation skills.
  • Engage in role-play of challenging and growth enhancing individual client and group therapy situations.
  • Create and develop individual and group counseling and therapy skills by comparing and contrasting individual styles of work.


Personal Development and Collegial Community:

Personal work and community building continues to be a strong focus throughout Year Two.  Trainees are encouraged to participate in the ongoing creation and development of a safe and supportive environment that can serve as a springboard to lasting personal and professional relationships


Statement on ethical considerations:

To ask the questions with which this section is headed is to put ethical issues into a non-Gestalt orientation. To ask what is right and what is wrong is to assume that there is a right and a wrong, a good and a bad in the matters being addressed. In Gestalt therapy there is no “right” or “wrong” built into any matter or question. There are rights and wrongs, but they are aspects of the stance and choices of an individual or of a society in particular situations; their rightness or wrongness is a factor of attitudes and values vis à vis the issues:  they emerge in the process of interaction of the person with the environment or of the societal environment with the person. 

The Gestalt therapist does assume that there are “good” things for each individual, that each individual has values and a valuing process.   The therapist also assumes that there are social “goods” and values.   These values have their origins in the self, in the culture, and in aspects of the social environment, particularly the family. The individual, however, in the Gestalt system is assumed to be responsible for increasing awareness of his value system and, based on his awareness and attention, his choices. The important point is that the “good” things in the Gestalt system are not actions; rather, they are attitudes that are to be encouraged as a Gestalt way of life (The Gestalt Center of Gainseville Inc., n.d.)  

Certificate Program: 

Program graduates are awarded a Diploma/Certificate of Completion from the Gestalt Institute of Pittsburgh.  The Certificate represents an award of 200 continuing education credits recognized by the American Psychological Association, the National Board for Certified Counselors and State Board of Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counselors


Requirements for participation are:

  • a Master’s degree in behavioral science or related field,
  • or comparable professional experience;
  • submission of references from individuals who are aware of the applicant’s intent and existing skill levels;
  • Completion of an application interview. 


Supportive Documents for Trainees

The documents listed below will be distributed via email and hard copies to individuals who are accepted in to the training Program:

  • Trainee Informed Consent
  • GIP Grievance Procedure