Spectrum 029. I felt no barriers
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Spectrum was a long-running weekly radio documentary series which captured the essence of New Zealand from 1972 to 2016. Alwyn Owen and Jack Perkins produced the series for many years, creating a valuable library of New Zealand oral history.
In this episode, entitled I Felt No Barrier, Gillian Woodward joins a Gestalt therapy encounter group at a week-long retreat lead by Bert Potter.
The programme begins with Woodward recounting her experiences of spending seven days with 16 people she had never met before. It was part of a seven-day residential workshop for personal and interpersonal growth, developing her potential as a human being.
A number of unnamed people speak about why they were involved in an encounter group.
Woodward explains the history of encounter groups and mentions Kurt Lewin, Fritz Perls and Carl Rogers as founders of the encounter group practices.
Bert Potter, director of the Shoreline Human Awareness Trust in Auckland, led the group Woodward was involved with. Potter then speaks with Woodward about the process.
Background noise of waves crashing upon a beach before Woodward continues to explain her experiences in the encounter group. Other unnamed people then speak of their experiences.
A recording is played of a group encounter session in which Woodward has tried unsuccessfully to capture what is happening and the group becomes quite heated. It sounds as though the microphone is being pulled back and forth during this time.
The interviews with members of the group continue, interspersed with commentary from Woodward, and thoughts from Bert Potter.
Jim Samuels, a psychologist at Princess Margaret Hospital, gives his thoughts on what qualifications are needed to run such a group, and the dangers that could be involved.
Last thoughts on the experience are given by members of the group before Woodward’s summary.