VSOF Newsletter – Summer 2008



Summer 2008 was a time of huge change for Violet and enormous growth for VSOF. For the first time in more than two decades, Violet did not offer her world-famous two-week training. Instead she packed, and sorted, and packed some more as she culled through all of her personal and professional belongings in preparation for her move from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles. After months of work, hundreds of decisions, and countless near-sleepless nights, Violet is safe and sound in her beautiful new home close to Martha and Mha Atma. She’s unpacked all the boxes and is now organizing and settling in. Old friends from her many years in LA have come to visit; the recent VSOF meeting met at the new Oaklander-Khalsa compound; supervision calls and in-person sessions are underway; and even plans for Violet’s May 2009 workshop in Madrid, Spain are starting to take shape.

Without missing a beat, VSOF founding members Felicia Carroll and Lynn Stadler picked up where Violet left off by offering two-week Summer trainings in California and Europe.

In April 2008 Felicia organized the West Coast Institute for Gestalt Play Therapy  in Solvang, California to provide workshops, trainings and supervision in Gestalt Therapy with children and adolescents. This summer eight people participated in the first Summer Intensive Training. Participants were from California, Colorado and one, originally from South Korea, came with her young family from Barrow, Alaska.

The daily sessions were structured around the Oaklander Model and involved an experiential, interactive, fun learning process. In her work, Felicia emphasizes the process of integration and the need to understand the more relational effects of shame and guilt. Central to her approach is an in-depth consideration of the therapeutic relationship in the restorative process of therapy.  Another area of interest for Felicia and a new area of interest in the training are the contributions of the neurosciences in confirming the basic principles of Gestalt theory and practice. In the training, these topics are integrated with daily practice of clinical skills using the various expressive modalities such as drawings and sand tray, as well as case analysis.

The group ended the training with a wine and cheese luncheon in the backyard garden at Felicia’s home. As one participant said, “I am so glad to be in the first summer training.  When you are part of the first of anything, everyone remembers it as something special.”

Participants are already starting to register for Summer 2009. In addition to the Summer Intensive, Felicia offers an on-going workshop series. For more information go to www.feliciacarroll.com

     GATLA ’08 Child & Adolescent track 

While Felicia was busy in California, Lynn was leading a 22-hour course in Lithuania! As a Guest Lecturer for the Gestalt Associates Training Los Angeles (GATLA) Summer Residential Training Program, Lynn’s new “Child and Adolescent” track filled to capacity and brought the Oaklander Model to 15 participants from around the world – Australia, Denmark, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Scotland, and the USA.

After shipping three boxes of books, handouts, clay tools, puppets, encounter bats, drawing supplies, Medicine Cards, and of course, VSOF brochures and the infamous fantasy drawing gong, Lynn spent several days en route before arriving at the Hotel Margis, situated on the picturesque Lake Margis, close to the tourist town of Trakai, Lithuania.

GATLA’s 2008 Summer Program included nearly 90 participants, and met over 12 days.  Child and Adolescent track members met each training day in a lovely house on the lake, complete with boating lock and traditional sauna (which was not used during training hours!)

Lynn’s three-part course was designed to cover An Introduction to the Oaklander Model, Anger and Aggressive Energy, and The Self-Nurturing Process.  Consistent with Violet’s past Summer trainings, the program had a heavy emphasis on creative projective experience, demonstration, small group work, and case discussion to better illustrate theoretical concepts.

Plans are already underway for GATLA’s Summer 2009 program. Stay tuned for details about where we’ll meet, training dates and registration information for the second annual Child and Adolescent track.  For more information, go to www.gatla.org or email Lynn at lynnstadler@verizon.net



Violet will be honored at the Association of Play Therapy Conference in Dallas , Texas on Saturday, October 18, 2008.  She has been selected to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognizes her contributions, and achievements to the field of psychotherapy with children and adolescents.   Felicia Carroll and Alice Espenschade, both Registered Play Therapists and friends of VSOF, are proud to receive the award for Violet in Dallas.  Other RPT’s and members of VSOF, including Marjorie Mapes, LCSW, Rinda Blom, LCSW, and Sandy Magnuson, Ph. D, endorsed her application. The following are excerpts from the nomination written by Felicia and Alice on Violet’s behalf:

Violet Oaklander conducted qualitative, original research assessing the effects of the Gestalt approach to psychotherapy with children and adolescents as her doctoral dissertation in clinical psychology, which was edited to become the esteemed book, Windows To Our Children:  A Gestalt Approach with Children and Adolescents (1978).  Her book has sold over 200,000 copies in the US and abroad since its publication in 1978.  She has just published a second book, Hidden Treasure:  A Map to the Child’s Inner Self (2006) with Karnac Press.

Violet OaklanderViolet’s new home    

With this work, the nominee joined other innovators in the field of child psychotherapy and play therapy such as Melanie Klein, Anna Freud, Dora Kalff, and Virginia Axline.  These innovators contributed to the development of the theory and practice of psychotherapy with children by applying the theoretical concepts of a major clinical perspective that had not specifically addressed psychotherapy with children. Likewise, Violet’s research and subsequent book applied the major concepts and principles of Gestalt therapy to work with children.  She contributed to the landscape of therapy with children and adolescents by providing clinicians with a new theoretical model for understanding the causes of childhood emotional difficulties and a therapeutic approach for supporting children in finding their rightful path of integrated development. As the founder of Gestalt therapy with children and adolescents, like those listed above, her contribution lies at the level of a new paradigm in clinical practice equal in scope of influence.

Her work has affected the field by allowing clinicians to become more directive and engaging with their young clients while respecting their organismic process of developing stronger self-awareness, emotional balance, and healthful interactions with others. Gestalt therapy with children and adolescents is a play-based approach that is grounded in the fundamental essential aspect of play as the child’s expressive arena of self-discovery.  Gestalt therapy with children also recognizes the importance of fun for growth and development in child therapy.

VSOF Board Meeting Highlights

  • Board unanimously approved the financial report and budget for the fiscal year of July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2008.
  • Operating expenses approved for re-printing VSOF brochures, adding pages to the website, purchasing bookshelves for the archives.
  • Much in the works with the Scholarship Fund, Documentary film, and Archives.

Next Meeting of the VSOF Board of Directors: Sunday January 11, 2009, 1 to 4:30 PM at Sue Talley’s home. 

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