Cathie O'Brien  

  Gestalt Psychotherapy and Organisational Development, Supervision and Training 

A whole service/systems approach to emotion-regulation

An attachment and trauma informed organisational framework

I have been working as a Gestalt Psychotherapist in organisations for many years and since 2011 I have developed a relational attachment and trauma informed framework called a whole service/systems approach to emotion-regulation. This approach is for organisations working with developmental/interpersonal trauma in adults and young people. In 2017 I gained a Post Grad Diploma in Relational Organisational Gestalt and in 2018 became Accredited with the European Association of Gestalt Therapists as a Gestalt Practitioner in Organisations. My whole service approach to emotion-regulation is developed through training and reflective practice, with teams at a small group and whole systems level, this  is key when working with very distressed clients in organisations. This approach aims to develop teamwork through a relational approach and here I also incorporate Chidiac and Denham-Vaughan's SOS (Self/Other/Situation) Model (2013). My particular approach is in experiential learning around the subjects of  attachment, trauma and the neurosciences and reflective practice at an individual and whole service level so teams can really feel the process of emotion-regulation and self-regulation - from the sensory aspects through to the adaptive function. This helps teams to be able to practice what they speak, from a place of experience, as they understand, embody and know the theory from a much deeper level. This impacts the whole service and enables them, over time, to become an emotion-regulating collective/community.

 and Trauma  within a Gestalt Framework

Fig 1    A Whole Service Systems Approach to Emotion Regulation

Cathie O'Brien  2011 



Fig 2    The Gestalt Cycle of self-regulation integrated with the process of attachment and separation





“Cathie’s delivered a therapeutic whole service approach and I am in no doubt that this way of working benefits all concerned. It relieves the feelings of anxiety felt by young people who may not have clear direction, boundaries and expectations. Once they understand that decisions and plans are made as a team and that everyone is “singing from the same hymn sheet” it has a profound impact on the young person’s ability to regulate anxiety.  It also helps staff, parents/carers and professionals to reflect on the effects their actions and decisions have on the emotional and physical state of the young people in their care." Tom Strover RCCP (Residential Child Care Practitioner 2011-2013)

"Cathie is a very skilled practitioner and was very effective she played a vital part in helping young people remove barriers and move forward. Cathie also provided clinical supervision to teachers and residential staff, which was invaluable to their health and wellbeing and essential in such a demanding environment.  This was met by staff with great enthusiasm as it allowed them to feel valued and supported.  Cathie always showed a high degree of compassion, understanding and professional ethos and was held in high regard by the staff team. Cathie’s skills were a great addition to the senior management team and contributed greatly to the school delivering an outstanding service." Debbie Collins, Teacher (2011-2013).     

"Cathie provides bespoke support to foster carers. Feedback from foster carer’s has been positive with carers actively exploring their own style of work and in effect reducing egregious behaviours. In addition to this she has been providing group supervision at a social work practitioner level. I have no hesitation in recommending Cathie as a practitioner with experience and competence of a very high standard. My own experience is that of gaining fresh in sight and new perspectives on complex situations." Mesha Banerjee, Social Worker, Fusion Fostering (2012).

Please see my publications for more information and references.