Thank you and goodbye!
Letter from Renata Mizerska Past President of EAGT

We all co-create EAGT!
Inclusion. Pluralism. Ethics. Culture of dialog.
From these roots, great fruit will be harvested, so long as they are continuously embodied and nurtured.

As Mahatma Gandhi once stated, you must be the change you wish to see in the world.

Dear members of EAGT,

It is with a sense of hope and sadness that I share with you that after a 3-year term, I left as the President of EAGT. In Madrid, I took a step back so that I may devote my focus to my father’s rapidly declining health. Furthermore, I’ve decided to limit my volunteer work in order to continue supporting psychotherapy in Poland, where the adoption of a psychotherapy law is critical for the following year.

The strongest pillars of our human compass are community and interconnectedness.

We all have different backgrounds, which helps make our perspective on the world and how and why we choose to make a difference so unique. I am sure we all want to leave the world a little better than we found it. This has been my driving force over the past years, allowing me to engage and work with integrity beyond my own role.

I am proud to be the first EAGT President from Central and Eastern Europe, the first Polish Gestaltist to serve at the Executive level internationally and just the 4th woman leading EAGT. Now I will continue as a member of the Advisory Board.

Being President of EAGT is a unique position, without a clear blueprint for success. My presidency began at an unprecedented moment, as I was the first EAGT president to address the challenges faced by online-only and then hybrid groups that were dependent on technology for the first time, communities that were accustomed to relying primarily on face-to-face contact and just one or two meetings a year. In addition, there was an unusually high turnover in all committees, as most members joined at the same time in the past and thus recently completed their terms at the same time. This opened the possibility and encouraged younger members or members from countries other than Western Europe to participate actively in the EAGT committees. However, it takes time to get to know each other, as well as different understandings of roles and styles of cooperation, and of course such rich cultures. To embrace and assimilate all novelties.

Think of the unprecedented complexity and multiple challenges we face as volunteers in times of growing uncertainty, polarity, and high expectations to get a sense of what these three years have been like. It takes a willingness to get involved, to stand up and be counted, and to commit to change, especially when others are hesitating, resisting or withdrawing. I believe that even small interventions can plant seeds that can trigger dynamic change processes when the problem is ripe and the window of opportunity is recognized and seized.

Many of you have been a source of inspiration, perseverance and hope for me during my 3 years as EAGT President and before that when I was National Organisation for Gestalt Therapy and External Relations Officer. During the deadliest epidemic disaster of our lifetimes, I witnessed how communities cared for each other. I have grieved alongside people seeking answers in wars, and I have supported those seeking refuge in my home country of Poland. I have witnessed the rise of fear and fragility alongside us, but also the realization of the need for change and the impossibility of returning to what was known before the global crisis.

What a tangle of vulnerability, unpredictability and complexity.

During my time at the Executive Committee EAGT grew from 700 to about 2000 individual members, from about 20 to more than 30 National Organizations for Gestalt Therapy and professional associations. After many years Spain, representing about 3000 members and 77 training companies, and Bulgaria were the two associations to receive NOGT status in 2023.

Several factors have contributed to this rapid development, including the continuously growing popularity of the Gestalt approach in Central and Eastern Europe and increasing importance of recognition as a professional in the field of therapy.

In addition, EAGT continually emphasizes the need to integrate research findings into therapy training programs and supports the Gestalt Therapy Research Database and the Gestalt Therapy Research Network. I am very grateful to Professors Robert Elliot and Bruce Wampold, two world-renowned psychotherapy researchers, for signing a letter of support for Gestalt therapy in 2022. Please make use of it wherever you can.

It was humbling to meet just weeks ago 1000 Gestaltists who are doing their best to shape the future based on Gestalt values in places around the world. Many of us have recently returned from Madrid, where we participated in the very first bilingual EAGT conference, aimed at bridging the gap between the familiar ways of contacting the novelty and diversity of our Gestalt community and all those who have not been able to participate in EAGT’s English-only events so far.

None of this would be possible without your willingness to shake up the status quo.

During this time together, we have also learned a lot. I am confident that we in EAGT are only at the beginning of an important process of assimilating the novelty and complexity and exploring many new ways and innovations to support the diverse and rapidly growing community. As you all know, before I said goodbye to you, we shared with you, along with the former Vice-president and Secretary, several avenues and directions for possible future discussions. Intercultural dialog can only flourish if certain conditions are met, including a code of conduct and a code of ethics, and if there is solid participatory and democratic governance in place. I encourage EAGT to continue to value inclusion and cultural and linguistic diversity, while providing equal opportunities to all members from the East, South, West and North, from Europe and beyond.

I believe our efforts these past years have begun to lay a new foundation upon which the Gestalt community will continue to be built in years to come. At this point, I dream that in the not-too-distant future, EAGT will serve as an example of the highest possible standards of democracy and ethics in action. And when progress appears to be slow, please keep in mind that Gestalt therapy is not a one-person endeavor!

We all co-create EAGT. Inclusion. Pluralism. Ethics. Culture of dialog. From these roots, great fruit will be harvested, so long as they are continuously embodied and nurtured.

I can say with pride and delight that the President of the Republic of Poland has recently signed psychotherapy provisions that recognize humanistic-experiential approaches, including Gestalt therapy, amongst other modalities. It is the historic legislative change that I have successfully accomplished with the invaluable support of my colleagues from the Polish Council for Psychotherapy – Federation of Associations, and the cooperation of other organizations. This contributes to the highest level of legal recognition of psychotherapy in Poland and the opening of the psychotherapy profession to all professionals with EQF7 backgrounds. The next and final step will be the adoption of the comprehensive and inclusive psychotherapy law. If at the EAGT we continue to work towards the recognition of Gestalt in each of our countries it will become more and more a recognized modality over the European space. I am already offering technical and moral support for some members of Southern and Eastern European countries who are beginning the challenge of getting Gestalt included as a recognized modality. I know from my own experience that it’s a long journey but as we gain experience, it becomes more fluid.

It has been an honor and privilege to serve the greater international Gestalt community as a volunteer, and none of what we have accomplished would have been possible without the work of the EAGT committees, boards, chambers, working groups and past officers. Please acknowledge these dedicated members with whom I have had the chance of working pro publico bono over the past 7 years. It is difficult to list them all here because there are so many of them. Thank you!

The confidence that someone will be there for us in times of need gives us the courage to do the same and be there for others when they need our support.

You may recall that I began my term as EAGT President in 2020 with former Vice-president David Picó Vila and former Secretary Monika Siedlak-Pęczek. I admire you for sharing so generously the knowledge and skills you have gained outside the Gestalt world. It has been a courageous ride on a roller coaster, and I am incredibly grateful to have had you on the Executive Committee team from start to finish.

There is one person to whom I must give special recognition: my husband. Gestalt and I owe him far more than words can express. I am also grateful to my family and friends, who have always been there for me on my journey as a social activist.

Now it’s up to you, members of EAGT to take the responsibility and decide on the unfolding direction and to continue the courageous mission of the agents of change.

No matter what comes, I was and will be inspired by the character of many people I’m meeting on my way now.
Please keep making the Impossible Possible.

Renata Mizerska

P.S. You may always reach me by my private e-mail or phone or Signal/FaceTime.

Many of you asked for it.
Opening address at the XIV EAGT Conference in Madrid, 21.10.2023

You can reach me via private e-mail

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