Faculty & Workshop Leaders

Gestalt Institute of San Francisco Faculty & Workshops Leaders


Deacon Banks, Director, Phd, grew up in a religious family seeking the truth from an early age. After earning his doctorate in psychology in 1965, he met Fritz Perls at Esalen Institute and was briefly a resident of Big Sur. He practices what he calls " Spiritual Gestalt" and considers Gestalt the "best education for living a healthy life." 


Ruth Boerger, Assistant Director, BS, GPW, is a graduate of the Gestalt Institute of San Francisco. Ruth is a life-long educator. After leaving her teaching career in elementary schools, she began her Gestalt awareness practice in 1977, and since that time has committed herself to practice, study, and teach Gestalt. She also has worked in provider relations and training at California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) and at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center (UCSF). She has trained Gestalt students in the U.S., Mexico, and Japan. Ruth practices Gestalt from the larger context of Transpersonal Psychology and is known for her warmth and skill in establishing a safe and creative environment for growth.


Galia Schechter, Psy.D, MBA
Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Organizational Consultant. 
Galia is an experienced licensed clinical psychologist with a private practice in Berkeley, California where she offers therapeutic services for individuals and couples as related to all areas of life's challenges, transitions, and relational wondings and trauma. She received her doctorate from the Wright Institute in Berkeley, CA, and has dedicated over a decade to teaching and providing clinical therapeutic services in private practice and in community mental health environments to individual adults, couples, families, groups, and organizational communities. She has taught and led therapeutic, supervision and training groups as related to a diverse array of psychotherapeutic content areas and modalities in the San Francisco Bay area and internationally. Galia's area of speciality include the application of Humanistic-Existential, Process experiential, Gestalt, emotion focused, and mindfulness based therapies to a variety of psychological challenges and processes. She is bi-cultural and has worked and traveled in many countries around the world. Her exposure to and appreciation of human differences and similarities across cultures, regions and traditions inspire her life and work. Prior to becoming a psychologist Galia obtained an MBA and worked in organizations in the United States and abroad in the areas of governance, human rights and international development. She is currently serving as a co-leader of the Gestalt Institute of San Francisco 2020 training program.


Morgan Goodlander,  (Director Emeritus) MA, GPW, - Started his Gestalt Training in 1978 at the Gestalt Institute of New Orleans. After ten years of group work and training, he moved to Santa Cruz, California, where he founded the Gestalt Institute of Santa Cruz and (along with the late John Soper) became Co-Director of an in house staff training program at Esalen Institute. From 1997-2017, he was Director of the Gestalt Institute of San Francisco (20 years) and is now directing a new institute in the leadership field. In addition, Morgan has presented before executives of the United Nations and World Bank and occupied a Board of Directors position in the Association for the Advancement of Gestalt Therapy (AAGT) for over six years. 


Bud Feder, PhD, is a full member of the New York Institute for Gestalt Therapy, the first Gestalt Institute founded by Fritz and Laura Perls in 1951. He was a member of a professional peer group with Laura Perls for seven years. He has been Vice-president of the New York Institute for Gestalt Therapy as well as President of the Association for the Advancement of Gestalt Therapy. He has authored three books: Gestalt Group Therapy, Beyond the Hot Seat: Gestalt Approaches to Group and A Living Legacy of Fritz and Laura Perls: Contemporary Case Studies.

Mario Rivas,PhD, GPW,  Received his Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Minnesota. He's a graduate of the Gestalt Institute of San Francisco, and currently teaches psychology full-time at Merritt College in Oakland.  Mario is passionate about Gestalt counseling methods,  and he  mentors many students of color who are interested in becoming psychologists. His emphasis is in training students to understand and use Gestalt counseling methods. One of the most significant aspects of Dr. Rivas' work as a counseling psychologist is his "personalismo,” wherein he acknowledges and incorporates into his teaching and counseling work his sharing of his roots and learning experiences as a Latino who was raised in the United States.


Astrid Alemany-Dusendschon, PhD, With an initial training in business, she also trained in clinical psychology with an emphasis on psychopathology (Paris VIII) and as a Gestalt Therapist (INGT, Nantes).  She is also certified in DSP (Center for Somatic Studies, Ruella Frank, New York). She was born in Germany, lived in Greece until age 13, and since then lives in France. She is  a clinical psychologist and Gestalt therapist in private practice. She is also part of the founding members and a trainer at Epoke (training institute for Gestalt in organizations, Paris). Astrid leads weekends in cooperation with the Ecole Parisienne de Gestalt (EPG) and the Gestalt Institute of San Francisco, in Athens, Greece.


Masa Momotake, MA, is the leading Gestalt trainer in Japan. He was originally trained by Paula Bottome from the San Francisco Institute in the 1970s and has gone on to found training groups all over the country. He has organized and facilitated Gestalt programs for over 20 years. His training groups have graduated two new generations of gestalt practitioners in Japan. A founding member of Gestalt Network Japan, he organized the first National Gestalt Conference in Tokyo with over forty teachers attending, featuring current Esalen Institute President Gordon Wheeler and Association for the Advancement of Gestalt Therapy (AAGT) Executive Board Member Ansel Woldt, and a key note speech by French gestaltist Serge Ginger, founder of the École Parisienne de Gestalt. He is known for his humble manner and healing presence.


Dimitris Tzachanis, Assistant Trainer, MA, holds a BA (2.1) Hons  in Social Anthropology from the University of Kent at Canterbury and a MA in Psychoanalytic Studies from the University of Brunel at West London. He has been training for the last 6 years in Body Psychotherapy at the Hellenic Institute of Vegetotherapy & Character Analysis. Dimitris is also a graduate of several Gestalt training programs offered by the Gestalt Institute of San Francisco and has assisted Morgan Goodlander in the implementation of Gestalt training programs in Greece. Dimitris has taken part in various other trainings, seminars and groups and one of his main interests is the Transpersonal Approach in psychotherapy. Currently he is an Assistant Trainer of the Gestalt Institute of San Francisco in Athens Program and works privately with individuals and groups.

Last modified: Sunday, 5 January 2020, 2:16 AM