Gestalt Pastoral Care started to evolve in the early 1970's, when the Rev. Tilda Norberg began integrating her pastoral role as an ordained United Methodist minister with her training as a Gestaltist. Experiences with healing prayer intensified the need for a unified model of faith and therapeutic healing.
Despite her personal resistance to such integration, Rev. Norberg was convinced that in order to be faithful and responsible, her work had to reflect the new thing that God seemed to be creating. (See Consenting to Grace pp. 3–12.)
As the new integration became clearer and more finely tuned, Rev. Norberg noticed that people were growing more quickly and holistically than before. She also saw that many persons were hungry to integrate their emotional and spiritual growth. Soon she began offering weekend retreats in a format called “Opening to Grace.” These retreats continue with various leaders in various locations.
In 1984, a small group of clergy and therapists who had experience the healing benefits of the new synthesis (which did not yet have a name) asked Rev. Norberg to teach them this approach. From this initial class evolved the Gestalt Pastoral Care Foundation Training Course, which has been offered every year since. Along the way, other courses were added, including an internship program that leads to certification in Gestalt Pastoral Care ministry.
By 1990, a group of women who were using GPC as the focus of their work with clients began to work together to expand the training program and to plan for the future of GPC. They called themselves Gestalt Pastoral Care Associates.
The growth of the training program revealed a need for printed material about Gestalt Pastoral Care. Among other books, Rev. Norberg wrote the basic text called Consenting to Grace: An Introduction to Gestalt Pastoral Care, published in 2006.
Over 300 people have completed the GPC Foundational Training, and many draw on it in their various ministries.
In 2010 Gestalt Pastoral Care Associates was officially incorporated as a non-profit organization. An active Development and Communications Team spearheaded efforts to increase financial resources for the purpose of providing financial aid to prospective students. Under an Acting Transitional Board of Directors, Gestalt Pastoral Care Associates, Inc. began organizational and structural changes to attend to its expanding outreach and vision to introduce more and more persons to this valuable healing modality.
The spring of 2014, GPCA, Inc., marked the 30th Anniversary of our training program by organizing the first national conference near Pittsburgh, entitled, “Gestalt Pastoral Care at 30: Celebrating the Past, Visioning the Future.” It was a marvelous gathering – a time of music, dancing, delight, worship, workshops, and prayer; re-connecting with old friends, and meeting new folks with a deepening desire for healing. Together we imagined possibilities for the future of Gestalt Pastoral Care.
Gestalt Pastoral Care Associates, Inc. continues to hold celebrations and fund-raisers to strengthen and nurture person-to-person connections, and to support our training programs and financial aid outreach, particularly to underrepresented communities. We honored our Founder Rev. Tilda Norberg during her 75th Birthday celebration (2016); Rev. Betty Voigt-Gestalt Pastoral Care Minister and Trainer (2017); and Rev. Sara Goold-Gestalt Pastoral Care Minister and Team Leader for Trainers (2018).
In January, 2017, a new Board of Trustees was elected. The new Board has put into place a Development Committee (GROW Team, Outreach Team, and Communications Team), a Program Committee (Curriculum, Communities of Practice, Opening to Grace Offerings), alongside traditional committees and task forces (Finance and Budget, Nominating, Auditing, By-Laws, Spiritual Life, Diversity, Financial Assistance).
In August 2017, God’s grace continued to bless GPCA, Inc. with a grant award from Brigham Young University and funded by the Templeton Foundation to research the effectiveness of GPC and to contribute to a larger, international “big-data” project investigating the integration of spiritual strategies into healing and therapeutic practices. GPCA, Inc. is preparing for new growth and new challenge as the wider world learns more about Rev. Norberg’s transformational ministry and discovers how it might bless them with healing and growth.