Our invited guests
Joanna Alexia – psychologist, Gestalt therapist. Lives and works in Athens. Since 2009 she has worked with immigrants and refugees in detention centers and in refugee camps (NGO Medical Intervention), in Babel day center with immigrants and refugees (victims of extreme violence) and in shelters for unaccompanied minors ( NGO Medical Intervention). The last years she also works in supporting the professionals who work in this field.
Gabriele Blankertz – Dip. Päd., Gestaltherapist DVG, Heilpr.Psychotherapie, free practice in Berlin, co-founder of the Inkontakt Gestaltinstitut Berlin, conception and guidance of further education and group offers, u.a. “Circle of Peace” – trauma group for Arab women since 2016 and “Circle of Peace” for Arab men since 2018, as well as workshops in self-management and empowering for refugee Arab men and women.
Tomaz Flajs – B.A., dipl. GPTI, holder of the GATLA certificate of proficiency and ECP, and a full member of the EAGT. He is President of the Slovene Umbrella Organization for Psychotherapy (SKZP), and co-founder of GITA Institute for Gestalt Therapy, Ljubljana, where he works as gestalt psychotherapist, trainer and supervisor. He has trained also abroad, in Croatia, Russia, Austria, Georgia and China. He has written a few articles on Gestalt therapy in Slovene language, among them ‘Political Dimensions of psychotherapy, ‘Men and Shame’ and ‘Use of Metaphors in Gestalt Therapy’, published in the Slovene Review for Psychotherapy Kairos. He has co-founded and is actively involved in the SKZP working group for working with refugees, as a supervisor for psychotherapists who work with refugees, on a voluntary basis.
Nikos Gionakis – Graduated from the University of Padua (Italy) in Applied Psychology. Msc in Social Psychiatry-Child Psychiatry (Greece). Since 1988 worked in psychosocial rehabilitation of chronic psychotic patients and has been actively involved in mental health reform in Greece. Involved in training employees of the public mental health system., experienced in organizing and managing mental health service provision for the marginalized persons /chronic mentally ill, psychogeriatric patients, migrants with mental health disorders/. In 2007 co founded, Babel Day Centre, a mental health unit for migrants in Athens (Greece) and is currently the scientific associate of the unit. Has developed clinical activity ( with survivors of extreme violence and other extreme adversities), training activity and supervision activity with professionals and volunteers assisting migrants and refugees. Author of several scientific publications on psychosocial rehabilitation, mental health services implementation, quality assurance, migrant and refugee care, etc.
Olena Levchuk – Gestalt therapist, lives and works in Ukraine in risk zones where people not always have choices and their rights are infringed. Has worked as a psychologist in Fundacja Międzynarodowa Inicjatywa Humanitarna with victims of torture and violence (Chechens who were tortured and captured in the Russian Federation). Coordinator of the Ukrainian “International Alert” (Great Britain) and the “GIP” Foundation – (East of Ukraine, on the line of demarcation) – responsible for the psychological part. Has also offered support to the first refugees in Crimea – East Ukraine at the “Crisis Psychological Service of Majdan”.
Peter Schulthess – MSc, Gestalt Psychotherapist, Zurich, Switzerland. Past president of EAGT, Co-founder of HR&SR Committee. Started connection with Peace Brigades due to his political connections in the Zurich parliament (past member). Several publications pointing out the political aspect of Gestalt Therapy and the social responsibility of Psychotherapists. Co-editor of a book on “Gestalt und Politics” (in German).
Bjarne Solberg – at present CO-Owner of Visual Knowlegde (documentation, evaluation and storytelling). Manager in the Danish Red Cross for twelve years ( focus on asylum seekers having physical and/or mental problems due to e.g. torture). Consultant in the City of Copenhagen, responsible for the formulation and implementation of the City´s basic values, and ethnic equality policy (four years). Country Representative for Danish Refugee Council (DRC) in Bosnia-Hercegovina. (Return of the internally displaced persons and rebuilding of infrastructure, in Srebrenica, Sarajevo, Mostar). Started Mindlift, with focus on integration. Implemented and developed methods for integration, in e.g. the municipalities of Rotterdam and Utrecht. Education of mentor ship for Unions. Worked on anti-discrimination of handicapped. Worked on integration in Integrationsnet a part of DRC. Institute for Career Development introduction for refugees to the Danish society.
Kristin Verellen– is the co-founder of the Civil Movement ‘Circles – We have the choice’ in Belgium and author of ‘Who am I without light?’, published for the moment in Dutch and French. A book with the photography of her life partner Johan Van Steen and the poems she wrote in her mourning, after Johan was killed in the Brussels terrorist attacks in march 2016. Kristin’s personal tragedy has motivated her to dedicate a big part of her life to recreate connective rituals that stimulate inclusive dialogue, community building and resilience (www.wehavethechoice.com). She has shown great courage in the face of adversity, turned vulnerability into strength and inspired many others to connect, listen and engage. Her professional background as an organizational consultant, coach and Gestalt psychotherapist is very helpful in this. Recently honored with “We have the choice” by Pax Christi as an Ambassador of Peace. The growing impact of the intercultural circles that We have the choice organizes brings new insights into shared embodied resilience and what that can mean for victims of terrorism and each one of us.
Jan Verstraete – is a member of the Core Team of ‘Circles – We have the choice’ since the official start of the movement in 2016. He is contributing to help the movement grow and find his own way of working on a small scale and bring a positive change on a larger scale. The Circles can reach anyone who has been affected in one way or another by a traumatizing situation (from a crisis, terror, violence, disaster, extremism…) that had an impact on a large group of people or community and seeks a meaningful way to deal with it. He is a full-time Gestalt psychotherapist, specialized in High Sensitive Persons and trauma& bodywork. He also is involved in leadership trainings that include rituals connected to nature