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Gestalt Therapy


Gestalt therapy was developed by the “New York Group” of psychoanalysts in the early 1950s by Dr Frederick (Fritz) Perls along with Paul Goodman, Ralph Hefferline, and Laura Perls.  It focuses on the here-and-now experience and personal responsibility.

The Goal of Gestalt Therapy

The goal of Gestalt therapy is to increase the awareness of how a person functions in their environment, including with family, at work, in their social circles, or at school.  The focus of the therapy is on what is happening throughout the process more so than the actual content.  The emphasis is placed on what is being thought, done, and felt during the session rather than on what might, could, or should be, or what has been.

Focused Awareness and Personal Responsibility

Focused awareness is used in this therapy in order to achieve insight.  You become aware of awareness.  The ultimate outcome is for the person to become aware of what they doing, how they are doing it, and how they can change themselves.  At the same time, they learn to both accept and value themselves.  In this way, Gestalt therapy is about personal responsibility.  The client learns that they are constantly changing as an individual as they define, develop and learn about themselves in relation to other people.

Uses for Gestalt Therapy

Gestalt therapy can be used for a wide range of conditions, including migraine, ulcerative colitis, and spastic neck and back.  It can be used for couples, families, and individuals that have trouble with authority figures.  It has also been used by brief crisis intervention, that is for people suffering from post traumatic stress disorders, alcohol and drug abuse, depression, anxiety disorders, the mentally ill that are suffering psychotic disorders, and some that have borderline personality disorders.

The Gestalt Therapy Process

In the first consultation, the therapist will consult with you as to why you want the therapy.  While listening to you, they will observe how you answer questions so they can gain an insight into any current and already formed patterns that you have.  The therapist may ask you to talk with an imaginary figure that is sitting opposite you or to re-enact something from your past.  As you speak about your old feelings and your points of view, the things that are holding you back will become more obvious and you will be able to see buried emotions.  The therapist does not necessarily give you answers to your questions but they help you to shed light on your own problems so that you can find the solutions for yourself.

Other techniques that may be used in Gestalt therapy include dream work, drama, guided imagery, movement, art, and two chair work.


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