The word Gestalt means ‘shape’ or ‘whole form’ and the aim of Gestalt therapy is to support a client to find their wholeness, with the final aim to embrace himself/herself fully.
The roots of Gestalt approach date back to 1950 in the existential humanistic tradition of psychology. It is founder Frits Perls believed that Gestalt Therapy was a phenomenological approach – by working in the ‘here and now’ you can enhance a clients’ wellbeing.
The founder of Gestalt therapy – Perls – believed that people are best seen as being an entire entity – mind, body and soul. Perls believed that to successfully overcome difficult emotions emerging from the past, one needs to connect with the emotions and body sensations experienced in the present moment-by-moment and to become aware of how these are interconnected and contribute to shape their way of being.
A Gestalt therapist, first and foremost believes that itis the quality of the encounter with his/her client, that enables the “healing process”.
Through a reciprocal commitment and emotional/embodied awareness, moment-by-moment, the Gestalt therapist invites their client to explore, with curiosity, their way of being, creative adaptation, core beliefs, self-judgment and any other phenomena that emerge as they sit together.
Rather than discussing why something happened in the past, the therapist encourages clients to connect with what emerges in the present moment and share how it feels right now. In other words, you will be asked to experience your feelings, rather than simply talk about them. The therapist might ask you questions such as, “What’s going on in this moment?” or “How does this make you feel right now?” “As you become aware of this particular emotion what are you thinking, what are you telling yourself?
The ultimate scope of a Gestalt therapist is to enable his/her client to be able to accept, with care and loving kindness, their thoughts, emotions and embodied feelings. Gestalt therapists aim to relate with their clients, supporting their awareness, through emotional attunement and empathy. This include their own personal process as clients share and deepen into their emotional world and experiences.
Through the Gestalt process, the therapist works collaboratively with the client and supports his/her awareness inviting to explore “what it is” versus what they believe “it should be”. Gestalt therapists believe that change occurs in the “here and now” when we profoundly and kindly accept who we are. This happens also by appreciating and valuing our coping mechanisms that helped us to survive, as we were dealing with difficult facts of life. In the past, these coping mechanisms might have been the only and best ways to deal with our difficulties and limited resources. Hence appreciating ourselves for who we are, is a way to look inward and to become empathic to our vulnerable self.
Gestalt therapy has been successfully integrated into treatment programs for adults and teens who are being treated for:
Gestalt therapy has been a deeply important journey for me, I feel like I am 3 stone lighter as I now have a different outlook on life. Without the support I have had my therapist I would never have got this far – thank you.
The key indicators that Gestalt therapy is right for you include:
Before deciding to have Gestalt therapy, it might be helpful to think about the following: