banner 5th VSOF

Conference Session Details:
Sessions start every 1.5 hours. They are 75 minutes long followed by a 15-minute break. All sessions are in English only, unless marked **.


Day and Time PDT: Friday, 9:30 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.
Title: WELCOME I: Oaklander Experience
Presenter: VSOF Board Members & International Presenters
Description: Welcome to our first of two opening plenary sessions for all presenters and participants able to attend Friday morning PDT. We’ll get oriented, make announcements, and start our conference off with an Oakander Model experience.


Day and Time PDT: Friday, 11:00 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
Title: Stories: telling, listening, and co-creating in the context of the Oaklander model
Presenter: Tzveta Misheva-Aleksova, PhD - Bulgaria
Description: This workshop will take us into the magic land of stories.

  • Together we will explore the therapeutic effects of storytelling – both for the teller and the listener.
  • We will experience the power of stories as a way of expressing complicated and conflicting feelings and emotions.
  • The workshop will present different therapeutic techniques for supporting the child or adolescent to safely express their deep, traumatic and often scary feelings and experiences through the metaphors of the story plot and characters.
  • A sample model for creation of therapeutic stories will be presented and all the participants will have the opportunity to experience the power of storytelling themselves.

Bio: Tzveta Misheva-Aleksova, PhD is a Gestalt therapist certified in the Oaklander model, parent consultant, storyteller and storywriter. She is working mainly with children and adolescents. Tzveta is the founder of Gestalt Play Therapy Bulgaria – an organization devoted to spreading the Oaklander model in Bulgaria. She also leads workshops for parents and professionals working with children, helping them to learn how to address difficult emotions and situations with the use of stories and puppets. As a mother of three children and a keen outdoor person, Tzveta firmly believes in the power of imagination, creativity and humor in facing any challenge, both in her professional and personal life.


Day and Time PDT: Friday, 12:30 - 1:45 p.m.
Title: The Gestalt Contact Cycle applied to the Oaklander Model
Presenter: Lizzet Cervantes Pantoja MS and Psic. Michelle Urrutia Williams
Description: This workshop will let the participants experience for themselves the powerful use of art in therapy using the Oaklander Model while being able to recognize the contact cycle in the process. We will review the phases of this cycle, its interruptions, and the interventions that can be used when they arise. We will provide ideas for using art as an intervention and how to provide a safe space to facilitate emotional expression.
Materials needed for this workshop: Paints (2-3 colors) and 2 sheets of white paper. No brushes are needed.
Bio: Lizzet Cervantes Pantoja, MS
Born and raised in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico. Currently living and working in Portland, Oregon, as a Bilingual Mental Health Therapist and as a Support Group Facilitator for Spanish-Speaking families in grief. She has a degree in psychology from the Universidad Autonoma de Yucatan and a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology for Children. Liz has been working as a Gestalt therapist for children and adolescents since 2011 and has been using Violet’s books as an inspiration for her work. She has been trained in Gestalt therapy, Humanistic Art Therapy, Human Sexuality, Children neuropsychology, Thanatology, and the Oaklander training facilitated by Dr. Karen Fried. She also co-founded with Michelle a virtual community for gestalt therapists called La Tribu.


Bio: Psic. Michelle Urrutia Williams
She is a Clinical Psychologist of Children and Adolescents and Gestalt practitioner who was born and raised in Panamá, Republic of Panama. She is currently working with adolescents and young adults as a Mental Health Therapist using teletherapy and telepsychology. When Michelle read Violet’s books for the first time it became clear for her that this was the model for her to practice. Thanks to VSOF she was able to fulfill her dream of receiving the training facilitated by Dr. Karen Fried, where she met Lizzet. Together, they co-founded a virtual international community for gestalt therapists called La Tribu. She believes art therapy is not only made to be used with children, but with everyone’s inner-child.


Day and Time PDT: Friday, 2:00 - 3:15 p.m.
Title: New Windows
Presenter: Cassiana Silva Castro, Brazil
Description: I have been in practice as a Gestalt therapist for over 20 years in the city of Curitiba, Brazil, working with clients of all ages, using primarily my first language, Portuguese. In this presentation, I will share about my experience leading a training in Gestalt therapy with children and adolescents, which occurred in 2019 and the beginning of 2020 before it was interrupted by the pandemic. I will address the ways that an Oaklander approach was applicable and relevant in this Brazilan context, and provide experiential examples of her work that were especially helpful in this cultural and linguistic setting. Please bring scissors and paper for this workshop.
Bio: Cassiana Silva Castro, psychologist and Gestalt therapist. I work with children, adolescents and adults in private practice since 1992 in Curitiba,Brazil. During my years studying Gestalt therapy, I've had wonderful encounters; I've met Violet Oaklander, Erving and Miriam Polster, Joseph Zinker, Richard Hycner, and many others. In 2019, I developed and started a training program in Gestalt therapy with children and adolescents (the Oaklander Model, of course), which was interrupted by the pandemic. I intend to resume it as soon as possible.


Day and Time PDT: Friday, 3:30 - 4:45 p.m.
Title: Once upon a time: Therapeutic Tales and Poetry
Presenter: Laura Saldarriaga Correa - Columbia
Description: Hi you, we're going on a trip, please pack your suitcase. We´ll need to be creative, paper, tape, notebook, colors and a pen to write. Each story is the map to reach a treasure that receives different names: friendship, love, happiness, courage, wisdom… It´s also a map of the dangers that lie in wait for us all along the way: swamps, dark forests, monsters, witches, dragons... Sometimes the tales in books are similar to ours. This experience invites us to know the art of using words as tools for our lives, in therapeutic, educational, creative and personal development contexts. ¡Welcome!
Bio: I am Laura Saldarriaga Correa, Psychologist and Writer in Cuento con Lala, a Psychotherapy program from Colombia. I´m a Master Degree in Art-Therapy student with Humanistic Gestalt approach in Argentina, and trained in the Oaklander Model. In 2013 I won the National Short Story Award by the Education National Ministry with My grandma Fanny Liévano, and last year the National Award “Share What We Are" by the Cultural Ministry with Arabian Nights in quarantine. My poems and story tales have been published in México, Costa Rica, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Colombia. I´m in love with The Little Prince and his Rose.


Day and Time PDT: Friday, 5:00 - 6:15 p.m.
Title: WELCOME II: Oaklander Experience
Presenter: VSOF Board and International Presenters
Description: Welcome to our second of two opening plenary sessions for all presenters and participants able to attend Friday evening PDT. We’ll get oriented, make announcements, and start our conference off with an Oakander Model experience.


Day and Time PDT: Friday, 6:30 - 7:45 p.m.
Title: Moving I / Feeling Me
Presenter: Jennifer Bury, USA
Description: When I make a movement, I feel myself - who and how I am. This workshop integrates the Oaklander principle of expressing through play with Ruella Frank's DSP™ concept of movement as the basis for all contact from which the self emerges. Through group movement experiments and discussion, participants learn how to attend to, and experiment with, movement as a valuable form of expressive contact between themselves and their clients. For a child, this expands their sense of themself and their possibilities of how to relate to the world around them - particularly valuable now, when so many feel profoundly disoriented and alone.
Bio: Jennifer Bury BFA, CMT, Certified Trainer/Supervisor in DSP™, is a movement therapist in private practice for 35+ years. Based in San Francisco, Jennifer teaches in-person workshops throughout the U.S., Europe, and Asia. Since 2015, she has also been working online—with individuals and groups—using techniques she developed for conveying the felt experience of contact into working online. Jennifer is a certified trainer and supervisor in Developmental Somatic Psychotherapy™, assisting founder Ruella Frank Ph.D, teaching her training programs worldwide. Jennifer teaches at universities/institutes, medical facilities, and leads Gestalt training groups. Besides her Gestalt training, Jennifer’s background includes studies in pre-med, neurology, kinesiology, various forms of dance and numerous somatic methods. For more details see: jenniferbury.com/aboutme


Day and Time PDT: Friday, 8:00 - 9:15 p.m.
Title: Puppets: How to make them, and then use them in the process of Enhancing a Child's Sense of Self
Presenter: Seema Omar - Sri Lanka
Description: This workshop will explore making very effective puppets in the easiest way, with simple things that are easily found around the house.

  • We will make puppets to represent our demons, as well as to access our capacity for unconditional self-compassion.
  • We will interact with our puppets, accessing our aggressive energy in the process.
  • Participants will have the opportunity to create simple puppet stages, and puppet shows with their puppets.

Bio: Seema Omar is a Counselor living and practicing in Colombo, Srilanka. She uses the Oaklander Model as much with children and adolescents as with adults. She works with parents and teachers in an effort to create an environment that is respectful of the needs of children and of one another. Seema is currently a pivotal part of a core team that is working tirelessly to create mental health awareness and wellbeing in the Memon community, which is the community that she herself comes from. This is a pioneering endeavour as the community is fairly conservative


Day and Time PDT: Friday, 9:30 - 10:45 p.m.
Title: Covid psychological effects in adolescent: a case study of sand tray use to copy these effects
Presenter: Mara Foppoli - Italy
Description: This presentation addresses adolescents who have been impacted by COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown has brought about a sense of fear and anxiety around the globe. In this case, we can consider how the use of the sand tray can improve adaptation to covid life changes. In Italy, the first wave saw the implications of lock down, and in the second and third, when the strategy was to determine the level of social distance depending on the number of infections. The alternating of DAD (distance schooling) and schooling in person, has been experienced in a very problematic way and with many discomforts for many adolescents. A case of a 17-year-old female adolescent will be presented and her adaptive strategies that improved her psycho-physical well-being through the application of the Oaklander model.
Bio: Mara Foppoli is a gestalt psychologist and has been a psychotherapist for 10 years. She trained at Gestalt Play Therapy Italy and works at a child protection foundation and as a private practitioner. Since 2021 she has been a member of the board of directors of IGIS (International Gestalt Institute Switzerland) and contributes as an author for various specialist journals.


Day and Time PDT: Friday, 11:00 p.m. - 12:15 a.m.
Title: Adaptation of the Oaklander model to the Kenyan context
Presenter: Florence Mueni - Kenya
Description: Play therapy is a treatment modality that has been used in Kenya since the mid 1990s. It was initially applied with children affected by HIV and AIDS but has grown to be the preferred modality for helping children. This presentation will be about the use of play therapy with children in Kenya, with a special focus on the Oaklander model of play therapy. The presenter will share retrospectively on how techniques and skills of the Oaklander model have been tailored to suit children from urban and rural settings in Kenya.
Bio: Florence has a background on counselling psychology. She has been practicing play therapy since 1998 and has worked with children in conflict situations and other emergencies. Currently a Doctoral candidate in Clinical Psychology. Co-founder and chair of Association of Play therapy. Has a private practice in Nairobi. Passionate about play therapy and advocating for children rights.


Day and Time PDT: Saturday, 12:30 - 1:45 a.m.
Title: Gestalt in Preschool with very young children - as a preschool teacher as a gestalt therapist
Presenter: Mzika Dalakishvili, Georgia
Description: This presentation will discuss the experiment of paradoxical theory of change in the preschool environment. True to the principles of the Oaklander Model, the school is an example of maintaining healthy boundaries, while also respecting and being present with each child. Participants will learn through theory and examples the wondrous change and growth children experience daily by having good contact and strengthening their sense self!
Bio: Mzika Dalakishvili Psychologist, MA in Humanities and social Sciences, Gestalt Therapist - member of EAGT, trainer and lecturer in several universities of Georgia. Author and codirector of the program "Gestalt Therapy with children and Adolescents by Violet Oaklander working Model" in Tbilisi Georgia. Cofounder of Gestalt Play School in Tbilisi Georgia based on Gazebo philosophy. Founder of the organization - International Centre of Psychoeducation and Consultancy. Cofounder of Gestalt Play Therapy Georgia - Violet Oaklander Gestalt Play Therapy Institute in Tbilisi Georgia. In a process of accreditation by West Coast Institute. Editor and project director of translation Violet Oaklander's book "Windows to our Children" in Georgian.


Day and Time PDT: Saturday, 2:00 - 3:15 a.m.
Title: Inner Child Work: Using the Oaklander Model with Adults
Presenter: Diana Pohilko, Kyrgyzstan
Description: COVID-19 has greatly affected daily emotional life, mental health. and stress levels due to lockdowns, uncertainty, financial difficulties, isolation, and fear of illness. People are traumatized by this experience, and the number of adults seeking psychological support and therapy has increased dramatically. Lockdown demands, limitations and regulations, resulting anxiety, depression, stress and loss, have impacted the stability of adult clients and highlighted their existing conflicts between the “Inner Child" and “Inner Parent" or “Inner Adult." The Oaklander Model and creative projective process provide useful ways of dealing with traumatized, hidden, fearful, or the protesting “Inner Child" in therapy sessions with adults, and provides different perspective on the process of Self-regulation, Self-support and care in a new COVID world.
Bio: Primary psychiatrist, certified gestalt-therapist (Moscow Institute of Gestalt and Psychodrama – MIGIP), supervisor in Gestalt therapy and Oaklander Model. After working for six years in a hospital for patients with mental disorders, Diana has been in private practice since 2000, working individually with children, adolescents and adults, couples and families. An active member of the Bishkek Gestalt community, she provides supervision in Gestalt therapy and the Oaklander Model. Therapists in supervision with Diana are from Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, and Russia. Diana is also a counselor for international students (especially from Afghanistan) in American University of Central Asia (AUCA).


Day and Time PDT: Saturday, 3:30 - 4:45 a.m.
Title: To Sleep, Perchance to Dream
Presenter: Jon Blend, United Kingdom
Description: Participants: If possible, bring lavender and a scarf. Sleep is important for our health; it’s the time when brains and bodies process the events of the day, repairing and refreshing us. During the pandemic Covid-19 has brought in its wake much anxiety, stress and ‘social depression’; for children and adolescents this may manifest in difficulties getting to sleep. Our senses enable us to make contact during daytime (Oaklander); conversely we can utilise them to help us withdraw. In this presentation we will explore a variety of natural ways of harnessing our senses to soothe ourselves and surrender to sleep.
Bio: Jon is European, a Gestalt psychotherapist, Integrative child psychotherapist, supervisor, international trainer and Lifemusician. He works in private practice in London and teaches at Institute for Arts in Therapy & Education (Wellbeing Faculty). Jon’s background includes forty years counselling in adult and child psychiatry, also performing arts. Since training with Violet in 2000 he has offered many workshops, trainings and presentations on the Oaklander therapy model to child and adolescent psychotherapists and at conferences in UK, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Poland & Ukraine. For nine downloadable articles see www.gacp.co.uk ; also Jon’s ‘Humans of Gestalt’ interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQuFR77Zb8s/


Day and Time PDT: Saturday, 5:00 - 6:15 a.m.
Title: Mothers & the Oaklander Method: How to guide and support during the first years of life
Presenter: Francesca Cannata, Italy
Description: The first years of the life of a child, from conception to the early stages of development, are extremely delicate and crucial to lay the foundations of a balanced growth. The woman is born as a mother together with her child, in a very complex path that reveals very powerful elements of drama and creativity. The speaker wishes to explore how the Oaklander Model could be a successful method to process this experience; the key to take care of the inner-child of a mother and - at the same time, activate and enhance the parenting in an aware process that is a strong aid during the first stages of the life of a child.
Bio: Francesca Cannata is a psychologist, Gestalt psychotherapist, and registered Supervisor for the Oaklander Method all over Italy. She is a founding member of the “Oltre la Tenda" (Beyond the Curtain) organization: psychology, education, and training center and pole for the spreading and research for the Oaklander Method. Francesca is in private practice in Naples, working with children, adolescents, young adults, and families. She’s passionately involved with prevention activities and psycho-social intervention in schools and public institutions, working with groups of parents, minors, and teachers. She is also committed to psychological training and education, organizing and leading trainings and gatherings. Her goals is to promote and raise awareness on a psychological, relational, and social well-being oriented culture.


Day and Time PDT: Saturday, 6:30 - 7:45 a.m.
Title: Workshop on Body & Senses
Presenter: TBD
Description:
Bio:


Day and Time PDT: Saturday, 8:00 - 9:15 a.m.
Title:
Enhancing the Sense of Self Through Collage Work | The Oaklander Model
Presenter: Trish Blessing - USA
Description:
Goals / Objectives of the Workshop:

  1. We will discover the potential collage-making has to evoke the unconscious mind
  2. The workshop will present ways to enhance the sense of self through the process of collage
  3. The workshop will help in understanding how essential creativity can be in the process of communication, integration and healing
  4. Participants will learn how to prepare and introduce the collage process, and specific directives will be introduced to be used in session with clients
  5. All participants will have the opportunity to create a collage during the workshop and process the experience with a partner in break-out rooms
***Supplies needed include: magazines (or any source for images), scissors, glue and paper
Bio: Trish Blessing, ASW has worked with children, adolescents and families for many years in private practice. She holds a masters of Social Work as well as a masters in Spiritual Psychology. Before becoming a therapist, Trish taught elementary aged children with learning disabilities. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, daughter and two dogs.


Day and Time PDT: Saturday, 9:30 - 10:45 a.m.
Title: Violet & Friends Q & A
Presenter: Violet Oaklander, USA
Description: Violet will be taking some questions from participants as well as leading an experience.
Bio: Violet Oaklander Ph. D. is the author of the books Windows to Our Children: a Gestalt Therapy Approach to Children and Adolescents (now in 17 languages), and Hidden Treasure: A Map to the Child’s Inner Self (now in 7 languages), as well as journal articles, book chapters, and audio and video recordings on psychotherapeutic work with children. Her Oaklander Model is a unique approach to working with children, which combines Gestalt Therapy theory, philosophy, and practice with a variety of expressive techniques, has won international recognition. Dr. Oaklander holds a lifetime achievement award from the Association of Play Therapy, U.S. and has received numerous other awards for her contribution to the mental health field. She has traveled extensively in the United States as well as throughout the world giving training seminars on her approach to working with children and adolescents. For 27 years she conducted a highly successful two-week training program drawing people to California from all over the world. In addition to her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, she holds a Master of Arts in Marriage, Family and Child Counseling, a Master of Science in Special Education with emotionally disturbed children, and is a certified Gestalt Therapist.


Day and Time PDT: Saturday, 11:00 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
Title: Animal Imagery Exploration of Self
Presenter: Jackie Flynn, USA
Description: In this projective activity, clinicians will learn how to use animal imagery with clients to bring awareness to, and strengthen inner resources such as resiliency, curiosity, adaptability and more. Also, clinicians will learn how to support clients through exploration of perceived challenges, learned limitations, and cognitions about self. Clinicians will practice demonstrated animal imagery techniques with a provided digital Animal Imagery Projective Card Deck in a 20-minute breakout session. Participants will finish the training session with experience and an abundance of knowledge to confidently use animal imagery in their practice immediately following the training.
Bio: Jackie is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Private Practitioner, Registered Play Therapist, Founder of EMDR and Play Therapy Integration Support, the host of Play Therapy Community Podcast and the annual Innovative Child Therapy Symposium, as well as a mom of two amazing teenagers. Long before COVID-19, Jackie was providing virtual therapy successfully for all ages. She is an Approved Provider for the Association for Play Therapy, as well as an EMDRIA Approved Consultant. Wanting to raise the quality of mental health care for children in online platforms, she has created lots of resources for child therapists working with children via telehealth. She absolutely loves working with children and families online.


Day and Time PDT: Saturday, 12:30 - 1:45 p.m.
Title: Reflections on a year of Technology and Telehealth
Presenter: Karen Fried & Kathy, Miu USA
Description: When the pandemic began, Karen asked, "How can we use the Oaklander Model in a crisis?" Kathy answered with her technology expertise and together they offered Just for Now calls on Zoom and connected therapists from 25-30 countries with Violet Oaklander and her methods; free apps to enable any therapist with internet to serve children and their families, and training in the Oaklander Model to therapists reaching across the world. Covered in this workshop:

  • What have we learned?
  • What is NOT just for now that is beneficial to the practice of the Oaklander Model with children
  • Theory and fun and engaging experiences to continue to serve clients

Bio: Karen Fried, Psy.D., M.F.T. is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and an Educational Therapist in Santa Monica, California. She has a private practice in Psychotherapy and is Co-Director of the K&M Center Inc., a learning center providing educational and remedial services to students. Karen is the President of the Violet Solomon Oaklander Foundation and trains child and adolescent therapists in this model in the US and internationally. Trainings, online tools, and many resources can be found at Oaklandertraining.org. Karen can be reached at info@oaklandertraining.org.


Kathy Miu is a business and technology consultant for companies ranging from silicon valley startups to the Fortune 500. She loves to pair her creative pursuits with her engineering background.


Day and Time PDT: Saturday, 2:00 - 3:15 p.m.
Title: ASD, HSP, & Animals
Presenter: Claire Mercurio & Camille Jarmie Harris, USA
Description: While almost every person with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) has sensory processing challenges, very few highly sensitive people (HSPs) are on the autistic spectrum. This presentation will outline the characteristics of, and overlap between, children presenting with ASD and HSP. Ways to use the Oaklander Model with these groups will be discussed, centering on the importance of animals. There will be an experiential activity, where participants will be asked to consider the animals important to them.In addition, there will be a live presentation of how horses can be utilized in the discovery of what it means to be highly sensitive.
Bio: Claire Mercurio, Ph.D., is a private practice psychologist based in Santa Barbara, CA, for 25+ years. Claire first learned about Violet and read “Windows" while an intern in Los Angeles. She had NO idea that Violet lived in Santa Barbara when she moved there in 1993! The rest is history – Claire has been the treasurer for VSOF since its inception in 2005. She and her family produced “Making Lemonade," in order to document Violet’s amazing life and work.

Camille Jarmie Harris, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Kingman, Arizona. After becoming introduced to the Oaklander model during her Master's education, Dr. Harris trained under VSOF founding member, Dr. Claire Mercurio, for 6 years as both a pre-doctoral intern and a post-doctoral scholar. Under Dr. Mercurio's mentorship, Dr. Harris not only had the opportunity to immerse herself in the Oaklander model, but also became a part of the administrative team for the foundation. Additionally, she is Adjunct Faculty at Pacifica Graduate Institute in the Clinical Psychology Department. The Oaklander model is a cornerstone for both her clinical and educational work, and she is currently exploring the utilization of the Oaklander model with animal-assisted psychotherapies.


Day and Time PDT: Saturday, 3:30 - 4:45 p.m.
Title: Windows between our hemispheres: How the Oaklander approach facilitates contact within the divided self
Presenter: Peter Mortola, USA
Description: Violet Oaklander's approach to Gestalt play and art therapy often includes a dialogue between differing parts of a drawing, an image or even a sand tray scene. These playful and pretend dialogues often end up reflecting very real content from the client's own life. Moreover, these pretend dialogues often end up reflecting very real and relevant conversations happening within the client. How are these dialogues helpful? How does the Oaklander approach facilitate both meaningful differentiation of the self as well as integration and a strengthening of the self through these dialogues? Most importantly, how does the Oaklander approach using images help the left and right hemispheres of our brains "speak" to, and make better contact with, each other? These are the questions and topics we will explore in this experiential and thoughtful presentation.
Bio: Peter Mortola, Ph.D., is a Professor of Counseling and School Psychology at Lewis and Clark’s Graduate School of Education and Counseling. He is the author of Windowframes: Learning the art of Gestalt play therapy the Oaklander way (Routledge, 2006), the culmination of 10 years of inquiry and research on Violet Oaklander’s methods of both child therapy and adult training. Windowframes is presently translated in Korean, German, Spanish and Romanian. He has also published numerous scholarly articles focused on Oaklander's work in the Gestalt Review and other publications. Additionally, he is the co-author of BAM! Boys Advocacy and Mentoring: A leader’s guide to facilitating strength-based groups for boys (Routledge, 2008) and is the co-author, with Mark Molchan, of The Bear Inside (19th Avenue Press, 2016) an illustrated children's book addressing emotional regulation. He has been teaching a graduate-level course based on the Oaklander approach - entitled Play Becomes Real - for 15 years and has recently published a series of lectures about Oaklander's approach which can be found on YouTube.


Day and Time PDT: Saturday, 5:00 p.m. - 6:15 p.m.
Title: School Counselors: Using the Oaklander Model
Presenter: Chris McKenna - USA
Description: Learn how to use the Oaklander Model and interventions in your role as an elementary school counselor. Oaklander projective interventions such as projective cards, drawings and working with clay quickly help children get to the heart of what is troubling them, and helps them identify actions they can take to feel better so that they can return to the classroom. Discussion will include how to address aggressive energy in your office and how to help children express it in safe and fun ways. In addition to the presentation of several case studies, this session will give you hands-on experience using many Oaklander interventions that you can use right away in your role as a school counselor.
Bio: Chris McKenna is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor who has worked in schools for twenty-five years. After completing graduate school, she attended Violet Oaklander’s intensive two-week training in the 1990s. She has been to many VSOF conferences over the years, and has been a part of Karen Fried’s 3-part training for the past 3 years. In addition to her school counseling position, she has a private practice in Santa Monica and in Manhattan Beach, California. The Violet Oaklander Model is a cornerstone in her work both as a school counselor and as a therapist in private practice.


Day and Time PDT: Saturday, 6:30 - 7:45pm
Title: Body & Senses: Embodied Online Scribbles, Shuffles, Crafts and other Fun Stuff
Presenter: Sue Ellen Talley and guests - USA
Description:
Bio: Sue Ellen Talley, M.A., MFT Sue Ellen Talley, MFT received her MA in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University in 1994. She worked as an intern and therapist at Children's Institute International, Los Angeles, from 1993 until 1998, specializing in the treatment of at risk children and adolescents. She also received advanced training from the Gestalt Training Institute of Los Angeles (GTILA) and the Violet Oaklander Institute. Sue is currently in private practice in Agoura Hills, CA, working with children, adolescents and their families. She and her husband, Steve, have raised five children together. Sue is the former Secretary of the Board of GTILA, a founding member of the Violet Solomon Oaklander Foundation, and is President of the Board of Directors. She can be reached at this e-mail address: talkingear@gmail.com.


Day and Time PDT: Saturday, 8:00 - 9:15 p.m.
Title: Helping Children Confront Parts of the Self They Don’t Like
Presenter: Christiane Elsbree - USA
Description: In Gestalt Therapy and in the Oaklander Model we work with anger, disappointment, shame and frustration directed toward parts of the self. In the Oaklander Model we usually call this “Demon" work. Dr. Bea Mackay has also described this work with adults in her book Two-You Work: How to Work with the Self in Conflict. This work is a crucial precursor to self-nurturing and self-acceptance. In this session participants will be guided to identify a troublesome part of themselves, draw it and then begin the dialogue process which leads toward self-acceptance.
Bio: Christiane is a clinical social worker in private practice in Seattle, Washington, USA. She studied Gestalt therapy at the Gestalt Therapy Institute of Los Angeles from 1978 to 1987. She began her study with Violet Oaklander, Ph.D. in 1980 when she, along with Violet and two other therapists, opened the Center for Child and Adolescent Therapy in Hermosa Beach, California under Violet’s direction. Christiane is a founding member of the Violet Solomon Oaklander Foundation. Her interests in spirituality, diversity, and anti-racism inform her work with children, adolescents and adults.


Day and Time PDT: Saturday, 9:30 - 10:45 p.m.
Title: Plumbing Emotional Intelligence: Flowing Faucets
Presenter: Lynn Stadler - USA
Description: Imagine you’re in the kitchen of your favorite restaurant. There you see a long sink, as big as a sofa. On the wall above the sink are four faucets: one for Joy, one for Fear, one for Anger, and one for Sadness. Typically we meet new clients when one of their faucets is gushing, and perhaps one or two are jammed shut. Violet Oaklander’s article The Many Faces of Anger and Aletha Solter’s “Aware Parenting" approach inspired my “Faucets" metaphor to help young clients and their parents understand, accept, and appreciate the importance of all four faucets. Trauma, family dynamics, and many developmental issues can inhibit the free flow of our faucets. This “plumbing" problem is often what fuels the symptoms that bring children, adolescents, and adults into therapy. In this session we’ll explore, draw, and share about our faucets, and then consider how they influence our contact with clients and other important people in our lives past and present.
Bio: Lynn is a Gestalt psychotherapist and licensed Marriage Family Therapist in private practice in Santa Barbara, California. She works with children, adolescents, adults, and families. She received her Master of Arts (MA) in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University, where she is now adjunct faculty. She is also a graduate of the Santa Barbara Gestalt Training Center’s three-year program (1994-1997). Lynn completed intensive training with the Violet Oaklander Institute, and is a founding member of the Violet Solomon Oaklander Foundation. Lynn is co-founder of Oaklandertraining.org and she provides workshops, seminars, and Gestalt training for social service agencies, universities and other teaching organizations worldwide — most recently online for students in Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Italy, Lithuania, Russia, and many Spanish speaking countries.


Day and Time PDT: Saturday, 11:00 p.m. - 12:15 a.m.
Title: Boat journey – Exploring childhood, adolescence, and adulthood
Presenter: Senka Čimpo - Sarajevo
Description: This workshop will take us on a boat journey from childhood, through adolescence, all the way to adulthood. It will provide us a chance to explore islands on this journey, as well as being led by a lighthouse. It is being used as a technique for working with parents within training for professionals designed in order to contribute to the protection and reduction of the negative impact of the current health crisis on the mental health and well-being of children, adolescents and their parents. This workshop can be used in individual and group work with parents and families.
Bio: Senka Čimpo is psychologist, gestalt psychotherapist, child and adolescent integrative psychotherapist, supervisor. She has notable experience with children and families at risk through non-governmental sector engagement. She works as a psychotherapist with children, young people and parents within the Agency for Psychotherapy, Counseling and Education Kontakt HOMINI and as an associate of the BHIDAPA Interdisciplinary Therapeutic Center for the Protection of Children, Youth and Families. She is an assistant at BHIDAPA Education for Child and Adolescent Integrative Psychotherapists. Works on the development and implementation of non-formal education and lifelong learning programs for children and youth.


Day and Time PDT: Sunday, 12:30 - 1:45 a.m.
Title: Broken Secrets
Presenter: Aušra Pundzevičienė - Lithuania
Description: Was there a time in your childhood when you were walking somewhere, and found some small, maybe lost, maybe broken “treasure“? Perhaps it was a stone, a part of some tool, a colored piece of glass? An adult would say, “Garbage. Trash. You will get dirty. Throw it away." But, for you as a child, it could be a miracle, some treasure worthy to put in a pocket or a secret box and kept safe. Maybe you would show it to someone who could be trusted. Is there a way these treasures could talk? Tell their stories and let us take care of them, maybe heal them?
Bio: For more than 20 years I have worked in the psychotherapy field with children, adolescents, and adults. Studies in existential psychotherapy at the Institute in Birštonas, Lithuania, formed my worldview, based on phenomenological approach, humanistic principles and mainly – existential philosophy. The journey proceeded meeting Violet‘s books – they were so valuable that I have translated and published both books in Lithuanian, and now organize Oaklander Model trainings and seminars in my country. Besides the professional area, I was rich with personal experience in raising children – three daughters, bringing lots of happiness and challenges to my life. And the journey proceeds.


Day and Time PDT: Sunday, 2:00 - 3:15 a.m.
Title: Helping Parents to Look Beyond Behavior
Presenter: Natàlia Càlix González - Spain
Description: In our work with children and adolescents, we see how sometimes the young client is the person who manifests the symptoms of an unbalanced family system — with disrespectful or distant patterns. Some parents are mature and have a conscious willingness to learn, but others are more resistant. This presentation provides theoretical and practical resources to work with both types of parents, and how to introduce the ways to support at home what we do in the therapy room using the Oaklander Model.
Bio: I’m a Gestalt-orientated psychotherapist working with children, adolescents, adults, and families. After years of working in education, leisure, social education and psychology in and for different centers and entities, in 2013 I opened my private practice in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia (a town near Barcelona). I did my Oaklander training in 2015-2016, and since 2020 I’m a VSOF-approved supervisor for therapists from different Spanish-speaking countries.


Day and Time PDT: Sunday, 3:30 - 4:45 a.m.
Title: Let’s change the world: how contact and presence link therapy, teaching and building a sense of community
Presenter: Giandomenico Bagatin - Italy
Description: In humanistic approaches, professionals talk about contact. But what does contact mean in practice? Is it an internal or environmental process? How do I manage and improve it, especially online? Is it possible to learn contact as a technique or it has to be an existential stance? How can we teach contact? Can contact become the pavement for building a loving sense of community and make social impact? We’ll try to answer and experiment together.
Bio: Giandomenico is psychologist, psychotherapist, international author, and trainer based in Trieste, Italy. Gestalt supervisor and trainer for two main associations in Italy. Certified as Gestalt Play Therapist at WCI from Felicia Carroll, contributing member, trainer and VSOF supervisor. He founded Gestalt Play Therapy Italia, a web platform with international collaborations that links 1800 Italian professionals who work with children. He collaborates in teaching Oaklander Model with institutes and schools in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Bosnia – Erzegovina, Bulgaria and Serbia.


Day and Time PDT: Sunday, 5:00 - 6:15 a.m.
Title: The Abandoned Store and Swapshop: A Visualization
Presenter: Jon Blend, United Kingdom
Description: This workshop, applicable to clients of all ages, utilises a classic visualisation experience to explore, expand and deepen awareness of ourselves-in-relationship. Visualisation can be used simply to help de-stress / refresh or as part of a deeper guided inquiry (e.g. Oaklander’s Rosebush fantasy). As we allow images to form internally, our creativity emerges enabling us to view situations from different viewpoints. This encourages choice-making, builds relationship and helps foster resilience in difficult times.After the story has been told you are invited to draw, share your experience and critique the exercise. ‘Are you sitting comfortably?! Then I’ll begin…’
Bio: Jon is European, a Gestalt psychotherapist, Integrative child psychotherapist, supervisor, international trainer and Lifemusician. He works in private practice in London and teaches at Institute for Arts in Therapy & Education (Wellbeing Faculty). Jon’s background includes forty years counselling in adult and child psychiatry, also performing arts. Since training with Violet in 2000 he has offered many workshops, trainings and presentations on the Oaklander therapy model to child and adolescent psychotherapists and at conferences in UK, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Poland & Ukraine. For nine downloadable articles see www.gacp.co.uk ; also Jon’s ‘Humans of Gestalt’ interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQuFR77Zb8s/


Day and Time PDT: Sunday, 6:30 - 7:45 a.m. (BODY & SENSES)
Title: I walk and I light up: experience and express the power of our body with the Oaklander Model
Presenter: Laura Urquiza - Argentina
Description: This workshop will connect us deeply with our body potential, here and now. Together we will explore the therapeutic effects that appreciating the possibilities and sensations of our body in the process of walking provide. We will be able to FEEL the power of connections within ourselves, here and now, experimenting fully our movement. The workshop will present us with therapeutic tools to promote awareness in adolescents, children and adults from the bodily kinesthetic intelligence, to express and re-signify it. A sample model for exploration and intervention will be presented and the participants will be able to experience for themselves the effects of awareness of walking, and the impact it has in our lives.
Bio: My name is Laura Urquiza and I live in Córdoba, Argentina. I have a Degree in Psychology and Gestalt Psychotherapy. In 2020, I took the Oaklander method online training. I work freelance in my office, with patients of all ages and with different challenges, disabilities or highly intellectual capacities and I also treat bedridden patients or people who are in the last phase of their lives. I see each person as unique and unrepeatable and I enjoy accompanying them to develop their full potential. With each of them, I also learn about life.


Day and Time PDT: Sunday, 8:00 - 9:15 a.m.
Title: Coffee Q & A — VSOF Certification and Training Seminar
Presenter: Lynn Stadler and Camille Jarmie Harris - USA
Description: Stop by for a few minutes to ask questions, or join us for the whole session. We’ll be discussing VSOF’s 70-hour certification process and various Oaklander Model training programs in California and throughout the world. If you’re interested in more training for yourself or your organization, please join us.


Day and Time PDT: Sunday, 9:30 - 10:45 a.m.
Title: Just for Now
Presenter: Karen Fried & Violet Oaklander - USA
Description: Join Violet and Karen for a Just for Now session where we will focus on the impact and role of culture in Gestalt therapy with children, adolescents and their families. Violet will share her theory and experience (always wonderful stories from Violet) on cultural issues, as well as lead all of us in an experience.


Day and Time PDT: Sunday, 11:00 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
Title: Messy Conversations: Talking with Teens about Racism
Presenter: Lynn Stadler and Special Guests, USA
Description: Talking about race, culture, and racism may feel daunting for many therapists. This session is intended to help start and continue this important conversation with clients and colleagues. Lynn will host a panel of several experts who are now actively working in a variety of creative ways to increase awareness of racism in schools and the therapy room. Together we will explore the topics of racism, racial trauma, white fragility and how we can better serve our white and BIPOC clients. Talk will be followed by an experience to dip more deeply into our own process in the here-and-now.
Bio: Lynn is a Gestalt psychotherapist and licensed Marriage Family Therapist in private practice in Santa Barbara, California. She works with children, adolescents, adults, and families. She received her Master of Arts (MA) in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University, where she is now adjunct faculty. She is also a graduate of the Santa Barbara Gestalt Training Center’s three-year program (1994-1997). Lynn completed intensive training with the Violet Oaklander Institute, and is a founding member of the Violet Solomon Oaklander Foundation. Lynn is co-founder of Oaklandertraining.org and she provides workshops, seminars, and Gestalt training for social service agencies, universities and other teaching organizations worldwide — most recently online for students in Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Italy, Lithuania, Russia, and many Spanish speaking countries.


Day and Time PDT: Sunday, 12:30 - 1:45 p.m.
Title: Working with boys and men: Using the Oaklander approach to help reclaim disowned parts of the self
Presenter: Peter Mortola & Patric White - USA
Description: Violet Oaklander, based in a Gestalt orientation, defines the self as the integrated and healthy functioning of the senses, body, emotions and thoughts of an individual. She also makes it clear that a primary focus of her approach is to help individuals make better contact with all aspects of the self in order for them to make better contact with others and the world around them. In this presentation, we will show how the Oaklander approach helps us to help boys make better contact (and helps us make better contact with them). We will also share examples from our work with boys in various settings showing how the Oaklander approach can help our clients make contact with and reclaim disowned parts of themselves..
Bio: Patric White completed his MSW degree from the University of Missouri and his PhD in Clinical Psychology from International University. Patric has been in advanced training in Gestalt Therapy for many years in Los Angeles at GATLA and extended training, and under supervision of Violet Oaklander for numerous years. Patric is currently in private practice in Hermosa Beach, California, specializing in child and adolescent therapy. Patric has consulted extensively with school districts and has supervised various levels of interns over the years. Patric has had a long interest in issues involving children’s mental health issues and the social context. Patric has additionally volunteered and supervised at several Gay and Lesbian social service and therapy agencies in Los Angeles and Long Beach.


Bio: Peter Mortola, Ph.D., is a Professor of Counseling and School Psychology at Lewis and Clark’s Graduate School of Education and Counseling. He is the author of Windowframes: Learning the art of Gestalt play therapy the Oaklander way (Routledge, 2006), the culmination of 10 years of inquiry and research on Violet Oaklander’s methods of both child therapy and adult training. Windowframes is presently translated in Korean, German, Spanish and Romanian. He has also published numerous scholarly articles focused on Oaklander's work in the Gestalt Review and other publications. Additionally, he is the co-author of BAM! Boys Advocacy and Mentoring: A leader’s guide to facilitating strength-based groups for boys (Routledge, 2008) and is the co-author, with Mark Molchan, of The Bear Inside (19th Avenue Press, 2016) an illustrated children's book addressing emotional regulation. He has been teaching a graduate-level course based on the Oaklander approach - entitled Play Becomes Real - for 15 years and has recently published a series of lectures about Oaklander's approach which can be found on YouTube.


Day and Time PDT: Sunday, 2:00 - 3:15 p.m.
Title: Helping the Child Develop a Self-Nurturing Inner Voice
Presenter: Christiane Elsbree - USA
Description: The primary healing work of therapy with children is to help them become more self-accepting and self-nurturing. This workshop is the culmination of the “Demon" Work presented in Ms. Elsbree’s first session. It’s not necessary to attend the first session to benefit from this session, but you will find that both together give a full picture of the material. Participants will be guided to imagine an ideal inner figure — perhaps a fairy godmother or a wise wizard. Participants will draw this figure and then narrate a script for that imaginary being, a script which offers support and care in an accepting voice.
Bio: Christiane is a clinical social worker in private practice in Seattle, Washington, USA. She studied Gestalt therapy at the Gestalt Therapy Institute of Los Angeles from 1978 to 1987. She began her study with Violet Oaklander, Ph.D. in 1980 when she, along with Violet and two other therapists, opened the Center for Child and Adolescent Therapy in Hermosa Beach, California under Violet’s direction. Christiane is a founding member of the Violet Solomon Oaklander Foundation. Her interests in spirituality, diversity, and anti-racism inform her work with children, adolescents and adults.


Day and Time PDT: Sunday, 3:30 - 4:45 p.m.
Title: But . . . What if my room is my safe place?
Presenter: Max Greenberg - USA
Description: In this presentation Max will talk about his work using the safe space guided imagery and drawing from the Violet Oaklander method with adolescents in a school setting. Together we will explore how safe space drawing can be used in a group setting to help facilitate rapport. We will hear two different versions of the safe space guided imagery meditation and how they may influence the drawing and post drawing exploration and discussion. Finally we will practice drawing our safe spaces together, share our work, and our thoughts and feelings in smaller groups.
Bio: A native to Los Angeles, Max graduated from the University of California, Irvine, with a B.A. in Psychology and a M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University. Following graduate school, Max worked in community mental health and as an education specialist. Over the last decade, Max has participated, and recently, helped to facilitate Oaklander trainings and conferences. Max currently works in a school setting with high school students individually as well as develops programs to facilitate social and emotional development of the entire school community. In addition to his work as a school counselor, Max coaches the school’s academic decathlon team.


Day and Time PDT: Sunday, 5:00 - 5:30 p.m.
Title: Celebration and Special Announcements
Presenter: VSOF Board
Description: Please join us for a closing video and group drawing to wrap up a successful weekend and celebrate VSOF’s amazing international community.