Below you will find the code of ethics of the psychotherapy profession of the European Association for Gestalt Psychotherapy(EAGT). We also provide full versions of the code under the text in PDF format.

EAGT Code of Ethics – Professional competencies and quality standards: specific competencies of Gestalt therapists – introduction

The Committee on Professional Competence and Quality Standards is working to define the specific competencies of Gestalt therapists. In line with the EAP’s project to define the core competencies of a psychotherapist, this document defines competencies specific to our modality. The project began in 2010 and is still ongoing. The group has now prepared a first, preliminary document, circulated and subjected to comments from interested colleagues.

The main issue with reading this text is the idea not to take it as a recommendation on how therapists should act, but to consider it as a description of the skills a Gestalt therapist should have, be aware of them and know how to use them if necessary.

It is not our intention to describe the ideal profile to which a professional Gestalt therapist should aspire, but to point out the competencies that are important in this profession and in this modality. Not all competencies carry the same weight at any given time, not all are used at the same time, and some passively remain in the background or even, in a situational context, are redundant.

Each Gestalt therapist maintains a different individual balance of competence in accordance with his or her own personality. The integration of this uniqueness finds expression in a specific personal therapeutic style.

A competency profile is not, by definition, an imposed set of skills that must be acquired at one time. We view it more as the result of a continuous development process rooted in a person’s professional path, developing continuously through work experience and ongoing training.

Working on the issue of “core competencies,” EAP suggests singling out three levels of psychotherapist competence:

  • “core competencies” – these are competencies that every therapist has, regardless of modality
  • “specific competencies” – these are competencies related to a specific modality, distinguishing individual specialists or particular modalities from each other
  • “Specialized competencies” – competencies required for psychotherapeutic work in a special place, such as a prison, or with a special group, such as children.

When reading the following profile of the specific competencies of a Gestalt therapist, it is important to keep in mind several aspects necessary to avoid misinterpretation.

While these aspects remain obvious in part, we prefer to present them directly in order to give the reader an unambiguous framework of understanding and to provide a key to familiarizing oneself with the 13 areas of competence.

It is important to remember that:

  • The competency profile is not prescriptive: it is not a catalog of commands for the Gestalt therapist, but rather a description of his or her skills and knowledge to be applied when needed or necessary. For example – being able to explain to a client the characteristics of one’s own method is certainly not something a psychotherapist would have to do, but he or she should be aware of the circumstances under which it should be done – and know how to do it.
  • The profile is not a description of the ideal psychotherapist that an actual therapist should turn into. The profile describes the dimensions of competence that the psychotherapist spontaneously applies in specific forms according to the requirements of the situation. It cannot be compared to a toolbox, as it is a set of skills, constantly developed and assimilated, allowing for spontaneous interventions if necessary.
  • The complexity of competencies means that there are some common areasbetween competencies. For example: competencies related to the therapeutic relationship overlap with competencies describing ethical sensitivity or the ability to cooperate with other professionals. Such complexity applies to different competencies in different areas.
  • Although the competencies are described in a way that lists them separately, the individual areas should be considered as a whole, as they all assimilate into a unique Gestalt. We can imagine a multi-voice choir, consisting of individual voices, but forming an integrated whole in which individual choristers are not distinguished.
  • Acquisition and improvement of competencies is a continuous process that does not stop with the completion of professional training. Competencies are closely linked to a person’s professional path, develop more clearly during a Gestalt therapist’s training, then continue to grow and improve as part of a person’s personal and professional development.
  • This competency profile is not a finite list and does not aspire to be so. After a period of development and classification, we have obtained – for the time being – this final document. Of course, this text, which contains a description of the Gestalt therapist’s knowledge and skills, remains a working document, as no description is finite and competencies can change over time as the professional environment evolves. For example – research competence has changed noticeably over the past decades, as have various social aspects.
  • The competency profile should be seen in the context of a code of ethics, something we take for grantedin our profession. Let’s not forget that the Code is normative and binding, while the competency profile is something descriptive and for inspiration.

This document is a declaration created in our own community of Gestalt therapists with a view to taking responsibility for defining our professional competence. Its purpose is only to define the professional competence of Gestalt therapists.

EAGT Code of Ethics – all in PDF format downloadable HERE