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GESTALT THERAPY

Gestalt therapy aims for the client to gain greater awareness of their experience of being in the world. Gestalt therapists do not have a goal of changing their clients. Clients are encouraged to focus on becoming more aware of themselves, staying present, and processing things in the here and now.
 
Gestalt therapy is a form of psychotherapy in which self-awareness and self-acceptance are considered keys to personal growth. It emphasizes creativity and collaboration in the interaction between you and your therapist and using active techniques such as role-playing

What is actually happening in Gestalt Therapy:

Gestalt therapy focuses on process over content (what is being talked about). The emphasis is on what is being done, thought, and felt at the present moment (the phenomenally of both client and therapist), rather than on what was, might be, could be, or should have been. Gestalt therapy is a method of awareness practice (also called & quot;mindfulness" in other clinical domains), by which perceiving, feeling, and acting are understood to be conducive to interpreting, explaining, and conceptualizing (the hermeneutics of experience). This distinction between direct experience versus indirect or secondary interpretation is developed in the process of therapy. The client learns to become aware of what they are doing, and that triggers the ability to risk a shift or change.

The objective of Gestalt therapy is to enable the client to become more fully and creatively alive and to become free from the blocks and unfinished business that may diminish satisfaction, fulfillment, and growth, and to experiment with new ways of being. For this reason, Gestalt therapy falls within the category of humanistic psychotherapies.
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As Gestalt therapy includes perception and the meaning-making processes by which experience forms, it can also be considered a cognitive approach. Also, because Gestalt therapy relies on the contact between therapist and client, and because a relationship can be considered to be contact over time, Gestalt therapy can be considered a relational or interpersonal approach. As it appreciates the larger picture which is the complex situation involving multiple influences in a complex situation, it can also be considered a multi-systemic approach.

In addition, the processes of Gestalt therapy are experimental, and involve action, Gestalt therapy can be considered both a paradoxical and an experiential/experimental approach.

CONTEMPORARY THEORY AND PRACTICE OF GESTALT THERAPY

Young Lovers

Dialogical relationship:

To create the conditions under which a dialogic moment might occur, the therapist attends to their own presence, creates the space for the client to enter in and become present as well (called inclusion), and commits themself to the dialogic process, surrendering to what takes place, as opposed to attempting to control it. With presence, the therapist judiciously " shows up; as a whole and authentic person, instead of assuming a role, false self or persona. To be judicious, the therapist takes into account the specific strengths, weaknesses and values of the client. The only good client is a live client, so driving a client away by injudicious exposure of intolerable [to this client] experience of the therapist is obviously counter-productive. For example, for an atheistic therapist to tell a devout client that religion is myth would not be useful, especially in the early stages of the relationship. To practice inclusion is to accept however the client chooses to be present, whether in a defensive and obnoxious stance or a superficially cooperative one.

To practice inclusion is to support the presence of the client, including their resistance, not as a gimmick but in full realization that this is how the client is present and is the best this client can do at this time. Finally, the Gestalt therapist is committed to the process, trusts in that process, and does not attempt to save themself from it.
Therapy

Experimental freedom:

 
Gestalt therapy is distinct because it moves toward action, away from mere talk therapy, and for this reason, is considered an experiential approach. Through experiments, the therapist supports the client's direct experience of something new, instead of merely talking about the possibility of something new. Indeed, the entire therapeutic relationship may be considered experimental, because at one level it is a corrective, relational experience for many clients, and it is a "safe emergency" that is free to turn out however it will. An experiment can also be conceived as a teaching method that creates an experience in which a client might learn something as part of their growth.
  • Rather than talking about the client's critical parent, a Gestalt therapist might ask the client to imagine the parent is present, or that the therapist is the parent, and talk to that parent directly.
  • If a client is struggling with how to be assertive, a Gestalt therapist could either:
  1. Have the client say some assertive things to the therapist or members of a therapy group

  2. give a talk about how one should never be assertive

  • A Gestalt therapist might notice something about the non-verbal behavior or tone of voice of the client; then the therapist might have the client exaggerate the non-verbal behavior and pay attention to that experience,
  • A Gestalt therapist might work with the breathing or posture of the client, and direct awareness to changes that might happen when the client talks about different content.

WITH ALL THESE EXPERIMENTS THE GESTALT THERAPIST IS WORKING WITH PROCESS RATHER THAN CONTENT, THE HOW RATHER THAN THE WHAT.

Chair

The empty chair technique:

 
Empty chair technique or chair work is typically used in Gestalt therapy when a patient might have deep-rooted emotional problems from someone or something in their life, such as relationships with themselves, with aspects of their personality, their concepts, ideas, feelings, etc., or other people in their lives. The purpose of this technique is to get the patient to think about their emotions and attitudes. Common things the patient addresses in the empty chair are another person, aspects of their own personality, a certain feeling, etc., as if that thing were in that chair. They may also move between chairs and act out two or more sides of a discussion, typically involving the patient and persons significant to them. It uses a passive approach to opening up the patient's emotions and pent-up feelings so they can let go of what they have been holding back. A form of role-playing, the technique focuses on exploration of self and is used by therapists to help patients self-adjust. Gestalt techniques were originally a form of psychotherapy, but are now often used in counseling, for instance, by encouraging clients to act out their feelings helping them prepare for a new job.

The purpose of the technique is so the patient will become more in touch with their feelings and have an emotional conversation that clears up any long-held feelings or reaction to the person or object in the chair.
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