Gestalt therapy is holistic, experiential and relational.
Holistic: gestalt involves all of you – your body, mind and spirit; your thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes; your senses; your physical attributes, including your health and how you move; your feelings and emotions; your personality; your work and sense of accomplishment; your general social milieu and your goals, hopes and dreams.
Experiential: gestalt focuses on your experiences within the therapy session, that can also relate to those that happen outside of the session. You get to learn how to recognize and interpret what is happening to you based on a different or expanded set of criteria from what you have been used to.
Relational: gestalt uses the relationship between you and the therapist as a way to explore your connections with yourself and with others – friends, lovers, partners, family members, work colleagues – and as a way to develop less restricted and more fulfilling and meaningful ways of being in the world.
Gestalt therapy also...
- Works in present time (the “here and now”), with references to the past only when they become relevant.
- Focuses on becoming aware, which creates the potential for change, along with more options to help you live the life you want.
- Is a collaborative effort between client and therapist. Together, both co-create the therapeutic session. The client is always in charge of saying yes or no to any suggestion by the therapist.
- Can sometimes be fun. It helps us get out of our own way, so we can live our best lives.
- Has evolved over the years from Fritz Perls’ infamous confrontational approach in a group setting (still erroneously referred to in many psychology textbooks as the definitive approach) to the gentler and collaborative processes used today in individual and group therapy.
- Was developed by Fritz and Laura Perls in the 1950s from a wide range of influences, ranging from the early Gestalt psychologists (Wertheimer, Koffka, Kohler) and Wilhelm Reich (body armor), to to Freud (the subconscious and dreams), Martin Buber (I-Thou), Kurt Lewin (field theory), existentialism (acceptance of what is), and Moreno (psychodrama)– to name a few.