Peter Mortola

Peter Mortola


Rogers Hall 323, MSC: 86

Peter Mortola, PhD is ​a Professor ​in the ​Counseling​, Therapy and School ​Psychology ​Department ​at Lewis and Clark​ College’s ​Graduate School of Education and Counseling​. ​

He is the author of Windowframes: Learning the art of Gestalt play therapy the Oaklander way (Routledge/Gestalt Press, 2006), the culmination of 10 years of inquiry and research on Violet Oaklander’s methods of both child therapy and adult training. Windowframes has been translated into German, Spanish​, Romanian, Italian ​and Korean.

He is the co-author of BAM! Boys Advocacy and Mentoring: A leader’s guide to facilitating strength-based groups for boys (Routledge, 2008).

He is also the co-author, with Illustrator Mark Molchan, of The Bear Inside (2016, 19th Avenue Press) a children’s book about managing strong emotions. ​The Bear Inside has been translated into Spanish, Bulgarian, Russian, and Sinhala. Multiple language editions can be found on YouTube.

He can be reached at

Areas of Expertise

My area of interest, the thread running throughout my diverse teaching, scholarship and service engagement can be described as the place where children and adolescence, mental health, and advocacy within the public school system all meet. I am also a founding member of the Violet Solomon Oaklander Foundation, dedicated to furthering and preserving her work. More information can be found at


The Bear Inside Cover The Bear Inside Cover

“This delightful book will help children feel a stronger sense of self and learn how to deal with strong emotions.” 

Violet Oaklander, author of Windows to our Children.


Mortola, P., Gans D., (in progress) Belong and Be You: A Group Counseling Curriculum to Strengthen Social Connections and Individual Resilience in the Teenage Years: Facilitating the Successful Navigation of Adolescent Development.

Mortola, P., & Molchan, M., (2016) The Bear Inside, 19th Avenue Press: Portland, Oregon. Translated into: Russian, Bulgarian, Sinhala, and Spanish

Mortola, P., Hiton, H., & Grant, S. (2008) BAM! Boys Advocacy and Mentoring: A leader’s guide to facilitating strength based groups for boys: guidebook for leading preventative boys groups: Helping boys make better contact by making better contact with them. In The Routledge Series on Counseling and Psychotherapy with Men and Boys. NY: Routledge Press

Mortola, P. (2006). Windowframes: Learning the art of Gestalt play therapy the Oaklander way. NY: GestaltPress/Routledge Press

     2010 Spanish language edition II by Editorial Quatrovientos

     2008 Spanish language edition I by Centro de Terapia Psicologia

     2011 German language edition Gestalttherapie Institut Köln

     2014 Korean language edition by Sigma Press, Seoul

     2015 Romanian language edition by Gestalt Books, Romania

     2022 Italian language edition by FrancoAngeli, Italy

Book Chapters

Mortola, P., & Gans, D., (2016) Being fierce in a good way: Reducing bullying behavior in children and increasing group leadership, in Gestalt Therapy with Children: From Epistemology to Clinical Practice, Eds: M. Spagnuolo Lobb, N. Levi & A.Williams

Mortola, P., Gans, D., & Diamond, E., (2016) Groups in Schools, in The Handbook of Child and Adolescent Group Therapy, Eds: Haen, C. & Aronson, S.

Mortola, P. (2011). You, me, and the parts of myself I’m still getting to know: An interview with Violet Oaklander on the role of the relational triangle in her approach to therapeutic work with children and adolescents. In R. Lee & S.M. Toman (Eds.), Evolution of Gestalt Therapy II, NY, GestaltPress

Mortola, P., Hiton, H., & Grant, S. (2011). A different kind of contact for boys: Understanding the influences of nature and nurture on a boy’s relational style. In R. Lee & S.M. Toman (Eds.), Evolution of Gestalt Therapy II, NY, GestaltPress

Mortola, P., Hiton, H., Grant, S. (2008). Three things boys need to learn and we need to learn about boys. In D. Streight, (Ed.) Good things to do: Expert suggestions for fostering goodness in kids. The council for spiritual and ethical education. September, 2008. XXVIII, (1). pgs. 1-9.

Reynolds, C., & Mortola, P. (2005). Gestalt Therapy with Children. In A.L. Woldt & S.M. Toman (Eds.), Gestalt Therapy: History, Theory, and Practice. 153-178. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Mortola, P. (2003). Talking Cards. In H. G. Kaduson, & C.E. Schaefer (Eds.), 101 Favorite play therapy techniques. Vol. 3, 286-289. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, Inc.

Mortola, P. (1999). Narrative as a bridge: storied links within and between Confluent Education and Multi-Cultural Education. In Joel H. Brown (ed.), Advances in Confluent Education: Integrating consciousness for human change. Vol. 2, 155-165. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.

Shapiro, S., & Mortola, P. (1996). The place of group dynamics in confluent education. In J.H. Brown (ed.), Advances in Confluent Education: Integrating consciousness for human change. Vol. 1, 81-93, Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

Mortola, P., (2022). In Memorium: Violet Oaklander, 1927-202. Gestalt Review, Vol. 26, (1), 103-105

Mortola, P., (2019). Play becomes real for adults: Measuring effectiveness of expressive arts media in the Oaklander approach with therapists in training. Gestalt Review, 23, (1), 67-83

Mortola, P. (2015). “It actually reveals things to me about myself”: How play becomes real in the Oaklander approach. Gestalt Review, Vol. 19 Issue 3, p251-259.

Mortola, P. (2013). Commentary I: Eddy in the mainstream: Gestalt subversion amidst academic tyranny. Gestalt Review, 17 (3), p. 272.

Mortola, P. (2012). Commentary III: Finding the Line: Resolving Dialectical Tensions in Developmental and Gestalt Therapy Theory. Gestalt Review, 16 (3), p. 259.

Mortola, P. (2010). The relevance of adolescence: McConville’s influence on teaching and learning across the life span. The Power of Writing: A tribute to Sonia M. Nevis and Edward C. Nevis. Special Edition, Gestalt Review

Mortola, P. (2007). Image before word: Making good contact with boys. Counseling Children and Young People. British Association of Counseling and Psychotherapy. June, 2007. pgs. 28-31

Mortola, P. (2006). Learning from experience: The Oaklander approach to training child psychotherapists. Gestalt Review, 10 (2), 110-122.

Mortola, P. (2003). Differentiating and integrating a theory of practice: A response to Mark McConville. Gestalt Review, 7(3):239-243.

Mortola, P., & Carlson, J. (2003). Collecting an anecdote: The role of narrative in school consultation. The Family Journal: Counseling and Therapy for Couples and Families, 11 (1), 7-12.

Mortola, P. (2001). Sharing disequilibrium: Links between gestalt therapy theory and child development theory. Gestalt Review, 5 (1), 45-56.

Hagstrom, D., Hubbard, R., Hurtig, C., Mortola, P., Ostrow, J., & White, V. (2000). Teaching is like…? Educational Leadership, 57 (8), 24-27.

Mortola, P. (1999). Narrative formation and gestalt closure: Helping clients make sense of “disequilibrium” through stories in the therapeutic setting. Gestalt Review, 3 (4), 308-320.

Mortola, P. (1999). Response to Backman’s and Spagnuolo Lobb’s commentaries. Gestalt Review, 3 (4), 335-336.

Mortola, P. (1999). Giving voice: Undoing negative body images and introjects, Australian Gestalt Journal, 3, 85-93.

Boys Advocacy and Mentoring (BAM!)

BAM! cover Boys Advocacy and Mentoring, or BAM!, supports boys and the adults who care about them. We believe in the ability of boys to be healthy, happy individuals who are positive contributors to community and family life. To achieve this, we believe we must recognize and support what is natural about boys’ behavior while helping them to be more interpersonally connected and emotionally intelligent.Through our boys groups, workshops for adults, consultation services, and boys group guidebook, we hope to guide the current generation of boys towards becoming a future generation of relationally skilled men.Get more information about BAM!

“I loved your Boys Advocacy and Mentoring guide. You have written a wise and grounded guide for working with boys in groups. You really get it about boys.”

—Michael Thompson
Author of Raising Cain: Focus on Boys and host of the associated PBS documentary
Windowframes: Learning the art of Gestalt Play Therapy the Oaklander Way


This book is about two related things. First, it is a book about Dr. Violet Oaklander’s particular approach to doing therapy with children and adolescents. Second, it is a book about her methods of training adults to do that kind of therapy with the children and adolescents with whom they work. These two things are related in that Dr. Oaklander’s methods of doing therapy with children and her methods of training adults share important parallels. These parallels are explored throughout the book, and the result is a text that should be of interest to anyone involved in or interested in working with children or adolescents in the counseling, therapeutic, or educational contexts. Essentially, I believe this book will be of interest to anyone who wrestles with a fundamental question that has captured my ongoing attention: How does one come to understand and work effectively with children? Windowframes is published by Gestalt Press. 

“Thank you, Peter, for writing this book. I hope those of you who read it will gain from it an appreciation of what it takes to create and run such a training program, as well as insights into the complexity of teaching adults to learn how to work with children and adolescents in a vital and effective way.”

-Violet Oaklander
Santa Barbara, CA
August, 2004


Recent Presentations

The Bear Inside: Addressing Aggressive Energy and Self Assertion in the Oaklander Approach. A three-hour, on-line workshop with 36 therapy practitioners at the Moscow Gestalt Institute, Moscow, Russia (March 28, 2022)

Promoting Healthy Masculinities, A seven-hour, on-line workshop with 43 therapy practitioners from LifeStance Health, Portland, Oregon (March 24, 2022)

The Bear Inside, On-line book readings to all Kindergarten and 1st Grader classes, Lowrie Elementary School, West Linn/Wilsonville School District, Oregon (Feb 14 & 15, 2022)

Emotional Regulation: A Workshop for Teachers, A three-hour, on-line workshop at La Petit Fleur Les Ecoles-Sri Lanka (December 13, 2021)

Group Counseling with Children and Adolescents. A 7-hour workshop with 15 Zoom participants: Gestalt Institute of Sofia, Bulgaria (December 10 & 11, 2021)

The Bear Inside: A workshop on managing aggressive energy. A two-hour workshop with 25 Zoom participants: La Petit Fleur Les Ecoles, Sri Lanka (September 2, 2021)

Using Online Therapy Tools. A Day Long Workshop for Idaho State University, Meridian, Idaho (June 18, 2021)

Differentiation and Integration in the Oaklander Approach. A three-hour workshop with 15 Zoom participants: Gestalt Institute of Sofia, Bulgaria (April 17, 2021)

Use of Online Therapy Tools with the Oaklander Approach. A Two-Day Workshop in Culiacan, Mexico for Nexum University, March 12 & 13th, 2020

Mindfulness and embodiment: Building the sense of self in the Oaklander approach, A Presentation to 75 Zoom participants: Oltre la Tendre: Italian Institute for Gestalt Therapy (March 6, 2021)

Use of Images of Animals in the Oaklander Approach. A three-hour workshop with 15 Zoom participants: Gestalt Institute of Sofia, Bulgaria (December 12, 2020)

Jornadas Latinoamericanas de psicoterapia. A Presentation to 100 Zoom participants: Nexum Universidad, Culiacan Mexico (November 14, 2020)

Adolescents and Therapy. A Presentation to 56 Zoom participants: Italian Institute for Gestalt Therapy (July 17, 2020)

Taking Play Seriously: The Oaklander Approach. A Presentation to 173 Zoom participants: Just for Now - South America Gestalt Association (May 12, 2020)

The Oaklander Model of Play Therapy. A Presentation to 210 Zoom participants: Just for Now - Violet Solomon Oaklander Foundation (May 6, 2020)

Engaging Boys & Men in Counseling and Education. A Day Long Workshop for Idaho State University, Pocatello, Idaho (June 15, 2020)

Use of Image Cards in the Oaklander Approach. A Day Long Workshop in Culiacan, Mexico for Nexum University, February 14th, 2020

Academic Credentials

1998 PhD Educational Psychology Program, University of California, Santa Barbara. Dissertation: Teaching adults to work therapeutically with children: Developmentally appropriate methods of counselor education

1996 California State Pupil and Personnel Services Credential: School Psychology. University of California, Santa Barbara. Combined Clinical, Counseling, & School Psychology Program

1993 MA Confluent Education Program. University of California, Santa Barbara. Graduate School of Education

1981 BA Humanities. University of California, Berkeley

Location: Rogers Hall