20 September 1935 – 11 May 2021
“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It is a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.” — Pema Chödrön
Cyndy Sheldon, MSW, was passionate about living Gestalt as a way of life and about egalitarian relationships from a Gestalt perspective. She trained many Gestalt therapists in the US and abroad and wrote two books: Gestalt As A Way Of Life and Don’t Tell Me What To Do…Ask Me!
Cyndy trained in Gestalt Therapy with Fritz Perls and Jim Simkin. At the suggestion of Dr. Perls, she co-founded the original Gestalt Institute of San Francisco in 1967, where she taught until 1990. While trained in several other therapeutic approaches, Gestalt remained her primary approach because of its comprehensive philosophy and its focus on growth rather than illness.
In the 1990s Cyndy moved to Arizona, where her work as a Social Worker put her in intimate contact with Navajo people and culture over the next decade. Later, in her books and teachings, Cyndy shared the profound congruences she noticed between Navajo culture and Gestalt as a way of life. She radiated a deep sense of wonder whenever she spoke of this chapter of life.
Cyndy moved to Bellingham, WA, in 2006, where she wrote her books, taught classes and led an ongoing Gestalt therapy training group that continued meeting right up until she passed away on May 11, 2021, at age 85. What’s more, Cyndy started a second training program, a Women’s Gestalt Group, a few months before her death.
At age 26, in her first workshop with Fritz in 1961, Cyndy heard an inner voice say, “You will be doing this work for the rest of your life,” and this was how her life unfolded; Cyndy would bring this work to many over the next 60 years.
Cyndy’s Legacy: In addition to her two books and countless students, Cyndy was featured in four thoughtful video interviews (conducted in the months before her death), in which she shares an intimate oral history of West Coast Gestalt. In addition to stories dating back to the early 1960s, she also shares the evolution of her own work, giving particular attention to the Egalitarian aspects of Gestalt. An article she penned a few years earlier on the original Gestalt Institute of San Francisco is on her website, as are her four video interviews and links to her two books. All of these can be found here: cyndysheldon.com.
Cyndy’s Memorial: A virtual memorial service will be held on August 1, 2021. Please rsvp via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and a link and password for the virtual Memorial will be sent to you. An in-person gathering will also be held at a future date, to be determined.