Iterating: the Gestalt Cycle of Experience

Similarly to Agile methodologies, Gestalt therapy defines processes described through a cycle. Each individual goes through it when it involves satisfying a need.

The Gestalt Cycle of Experience
  • Sensation
  • Awareness
  • Mobilisation
  • Action
  • Contact
  • Withdrawal

Interruption of the cycle

  • Between Rest and Sensation, there is the Repression of feelings.
  • Between Sensation and Awareness, there is the Projection of our parts towards the others.
  • Between Awareness and Mobilisation, there is the Introjection that recalls outer beliefs.
  • Between Mobilisation and Action, the Retroflexion is moving the energy against us.
  • Between Action and Contact, there is the Deflexion as a movement towards the loss of interests.
  • Between Contact and Widthrawal, there is the Confluence remaining in contact with the experience.

Group Cycle of Experience

Extending the Cycle of Experience to Organisations

The Gestalt Cycle of Experience at the organisational level
  • Sensation becomes scanning — The individual cycle begins with sensation / the group and the organisational cycle begin by scanning itself and the environment to find needs and identify key issues.
  • Awareness becomes conceptualisation Awareness develops through conceptualising what has been scanned into an image or reality that evolves into a common picture.
  • Mobilisation becomes the commitment to energy — If a compelling picture surfaces, the group or organisation mobilises energy through the commitment of resources to the picture by discussing potential directions, establishing the level of commitment, developing pilot programs, stating themes that will be tracked, and moving forward.
  • Action becomes the movement Action surfaces as the movement towards the compelling picture is initiated through plans and change directives.
  • Contact becomes the change of boundaries Contact becomes a change at the boundary between the organisation and the environment through the implementation of the planned actions, creating change through impact upon the group or organisation and the environment.
  • The withdrawal becomes the assessment Closure and withdrawal evolve from the assessment of what happened and the fulfilment or creation of the compelling picture. The group or organisation returns to the scanning stage.

An example of the application of the Cycle of Experience to Agile

Sensation (Scanning)

Awareness (Conceptualisation)

Mobilisation/Action (Commitment to energy)

Contact (Change of Boundaries)

Resolution/Closure (Assessment)

Withdrawal (Appreciation)



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Andrea Baldo

I am an Agile Coach, and a Gestalt Therapy Consultant in training