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Institute Faculty

Deacon Banks – President PhD, grew up in a religious family seeking the truth from an early age. After earning his doctorate in psychology in 1965, he met Fritz Perls at Esalen Institute and was briefly a resident of Big Sur. He practices what he calls ” Spiritual Gestalt” and considers Gestalt the best education for living a healthy life.

Morgan Goodlander – Director MA GPW, Intern Supervisor & Director Emeritus of the GISF (1997-2017) is an internationally known gestalt trainer and leadership consultant that has worked in 17 countries and for a number of years was the co-director of an inhouse training program for Esalen Institute.  He was six years on the Board of Directors for the Association for the Advancement of Gestalt Therapy (AAGT) and is an honorary member of numerous Gestalt organizations around the world. His current interest is on integrating deep individual process with context mechanics in organizational development and leadership teams. He is known for his humorous style and deep respect for each individual’s process. 

Ruth Boerger – Director BS, GPW, is a graduate of the Gestalt Institute of San Francisco. Ruth is a life-long educator. After leaving her teaching career in elementary schools, she began her Gestalt awareness practice in 1977, and since that time has committed herself to practice, study, and teach Gestalt. She also has worked in provider relations and training at California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) and at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center (UCSF). She has trained Gestalt students in the U.S., Mexico, and Japan. Ruth practices Gestalt from the larger context of Transpersonal Psychology and is known for her warmth and skill in establishing a safe and creative environment for growth.

Masa Momotake, MA, is the leading Gestalt trainer in Japan. He was originally trained by Paula Bottome from the San Francisco Institute in the 1970s and has gone on to found training groups all over the country. He has organized and facilitated Gestalt programs for over 20 years. His training groups have graduated two new generations of gestalt practitioners in Japan. A founding member of Gestalt Network Japan, he organized the first National Gestalt Conference in Tokyo with over forty teachers attending, featuring current Esalen Institute President Gordon Wheeler and Association for the Advancement of Gestalt Therapy (AAGT) Executive Board Member Ansel Woldt, and a key note speech by French gestaltist Serge Ginger, founder of the École Parisienne de Gestalt. He is known for his humble manner and healing presence.

Fivos Papamalis, PhD, is mental health researcher, consultant, and practitioner.  He has an MA degree in clinical psychology and Ph.D. from the University of Sheffield, SEERC. He is a Certified Addiction Counsellor by the International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC). Fivos has worked for several years in inpatient/outpatient substance misuse treatment centers as a counsellor, team leader, responsible for the organizational functioning. Fivos is one of the founders of the Southeast European Network of Social Empowerment (SENSE). He has participated in Gestalt Programs offered by the Gestalt Institute of San Francisco and the Ecole Parisienne de Gestalt (EPG).

Athena E. Sotiropoulou MSc.,PG, BSc, Athens Program Coordinator. Athena has over 20 years of experience working in the mental health field as a Counsellor and Psychotherapist (PG Dip, MSc, Middlesex University, London, UK). She has worked in a variety of clinical settings, such as the Whittington Hospital (NHS, London), with clients presenting a variety of mental health related and other general issues. I also worked with children as a play therapist in Wembley School (London).

In addition, Athena has a broad experience with individuals and their families dealing with addictions, such as substance abuse (drugs, alcohol, etc.), eating disorders, gambling etc. She facilitating groups for parents with children presenting behavioural problems at home and at school and to support the emotional connection and bonding. At the moment She is working primarily in private practice offering individual psychotherapeutic sessions, couple work and group therapy as well as offering a variety of workshops in relation to parenting issues, psychological preparation for pregnancy and birth, creating emotional intimacy in couples, better communication skills etc

John Lyons, MA Psych, is an international educator, author, activist, and consultant. He has taught psychology, cross-cultural studies, and other social science-related courses in a dozen countries on five continents. John is a cross-cultural consultant and writes extensively on the importance of culture-based learning. He has offered intercultural dialogue workshops in the U.S., Indonesia, Ukraine, and Ecuador. John’s exploration of Gestalt practice began in the 1970s through personal work and training with Dr David Hoban, student of Jim Simkin. He later trained for several years with Morgan Goodlander at the SF Gestalt Institute, as well as with Gary Yontif  and Lynn Jacobs of the Gestalt Therapy Institute of Los Angeles, and Christine Price at the Esalen Institute. John offers intercultural workshops at GISF,  and is presently writing a book about group dialogue as a framework for  building interracial / intercultural alliances with a view toward social justice. John brings caring, compassion, and commitment to his work, and believes deeply in democracy with a small “d”. See: Globalization in the Neoliberal Schoolhouse: Education in a World of Trouble.

Faculty Honored for Outstanding Contributions

Bud Feder, PhD (Trainer Emeritus) was a full member of the New York Institute for Gestalt Therapy, the first Gestalt Institute founded by Fritz and Laura Perls in 1951. He was a member of a professional peer group with Laura Perls for seven years. He has been Vice-president of the New York Institute for Gestalt Therapy as well as President of the Association for the Advancement of Gestalt Therapy. See a video clip of Bud at the institute. He has authored three books: Gestalt Group Therapy, Beyond the Hot Seat: Gestalt Approaches to Group and A Living Legacy of Fritz and Laura Perls: Contemporary Case Studies.

Abe Levitsky, PhD (Trainer Emeritus) was a founding member of the institute in 1967 and one of only a few people that co-authored papers with Fritz Perls. He offered the institute a rich tapestry of experience and a unique approach to spirituality. Click here to see an interview with Abe at the institute.

Anne Teachworth