...independent individual. I solely depend on myself because I do not like to depend on others. I am a quiet and realistic, very rational, extremely matter of fact person. I strongly cultivate my individualism and enjoy applying my abilities to new tasks. But I am a very spontaneous and impulsive person. According to the text, Gestalt therapy helps the clients to become aware of their present behavior in preparation for learning or choosing new behaviors. Also, this type of therapy is based upon philosophical concepts that make a strong distinction between what one actually knows and what one perceives through subjective, misleading, senses. Gestalt therapy shows us the cause-and-effect of past and present occurrences in our lives. In the end, this type of therapy and its techniques provides the therapeutic treatment that is needed for a counselor to client relationship to be successful in terminating the client’s issues. And this type of therapy is aimed towards beginning counselors it would work great for me. First, in regards to my situations and other experiences in life, I would use the empty-chair or two-chair method, which would be used best in Gestalt therapy. These methods would help me come to grips with conflicts as I endured with a fatherless home at a very early age. Also, it would give me a chance to see and understand them and acknowledge my father’s conflicts at the same time. When I look back upon my actions as a young child I would understand that not......
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...unning head: GESTALT PSYCHOLOGY Gestalt Psychology Theory Abstract The formation of the gestalt movement. The founding fathers of gestalt theory, Max Wertheimer, Kurt Koffka, Wolfgang Kohler and their focus in the movement. Gestalt therapy explained by the laws and the theory of personality. How the gestalt theory is in effect today. Gestalt Psychology Theory The three pioneers of the Gestalt Theory, Max Werthmeimer, Wolfgang Kohler and Kurt Koffka. All three focused on different aspects that have continued to develop across multiple disciplines throughout the 2oth Century. Gestalt theory focused on the mind’s perceptive processes (Kearsley, 1998). The word gestalt has no direct translation into English, but “describes a configuration or form that is unified. A gestalt may refer to a figure or object that is different from the sum of its parts. Any attempt to explain the figure by analyzing its parts results in the loss of the figure’s gestalt” (Brennan, 2003). In simpler terms” A way a thing has been ‘placed’, or ‘put together’”; common translation includes “form” and “shape” (Myers, 1998). Zakia, 1997, described gestalt by saying,”…what you experience when you look at a picture is quite different from what you would experience if you were to look at each item that is in the picture separately”. Wertheimer was born in Prague in 1880 (The Columbia Encyclopedia, 2001). He studied at the Universities of Prague, Berlin and Wurzburg,......
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...Therapudeic Therapy In our society there are several forms of behavioral and social development concerns. To help people cope with these psychological concerns there are a wide range of therapies, techniques and approaches, such as psychotherapy. Psychotherapy is a systematic interaction between a therapist and someone who is suffering from mental or emotional issues, with the goal of providing support or relief to overcome their psychological disorder (Rathus, 2012). There are several therapeutic methods that can be used by therapists, but ultimately the situation and the client will dictate which one is appropriate. Psychoanalytic therapy, Humanistic therapy, Behavior therapy, Cognitive therapy, Group therapy, and Biological therapy are all effective therapeutic methods of helping clients cope with their psychological disorder. Psychoanalytic therapies is based upon the theories and work of Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis. Using this method of therapy makes the assumption that psychological problems stem from early childhood experiences and internal conflicts. According to Sigmund Freud, these conflicts involve shifting of the three psychic structures, the id, ego, and superego (Rathus, 2012). Traditional psychoanalysis focuses on early childhood experiences and can spread for months to years. This is the method in which most people are familiar with. Usually it’s a one on one hour session with a therapist who wants and encourages to tell your story.......
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Gestalt Therapy vs. Person-Centered Therapy
...Person centered and Gestalt Therapy The Gestalt approach to therapy emerged during the 1950’s and was developed by Frederick Perls (1893-1970). The aim of Gestalt therapy is to increase awareness, so that the client comes to resolution of unfinished business and the integration of the thinking, feeling and sensing processes. In Gestalt therapy the emphasis is placed on the present experience, the perception of the individual as a whole and the direct awareness of emotions and action. Gestalt therapists believe that the emotional problems and frustrations that are experienced by individuals are attributed to the lack of recognition and understanding of their own feelings. In addition to this Gestaltist believe that many individuals lose parts of themselves when they are confronted with the overpowering task of coping in society. The role of therapist in Gestalt therapy is to encourage the client to acknowledge their emotions. This is by the therapist supporting the client to express their current feeling and experiences. The main focus for the client in Gestalt therapy is to stay in the ‘here and now.’ This is very important because it allows client to stay focused in the present when it comes to their feelings and experiences. Looking at past situations, experiences and future goals is not permitted in therapy because it can cause anxieties that bring forth excessive problems. This is why the ‘here and now’ is emphasized. Also within gestalt therapy the therapist helps the...
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...Gestalt psychology Reflection The Gestalt psychology movement was fascinating within the time frame in which it started to develop. While other psychological movements strived to boil down psychology in almost simplistic, scientific terms, Gestalt psychology embraced complexities within the consciousness. Gestalt psychologists argued “that when we look out a window we really see trees and sky, not individual sensory elements such as brightness and hue” (Schultz & Schultz, 2011). There is more to what we experience and see that just the simple elements that make these things and experiences up. Gestalt psychology owes much of its beginnings to the philosophical work of Immanuel Kant (Schultz & Schultz, 2011). Kant believed that experiences were created not from association, but through the perception of those experiences (Schultz & Schultz, 2011). There is a certain level of individuality in this statement, as individual perception is not something that can be simply classified in a way that was satisfactory to a more scientific model. For me, seeing the color green immediately leads me to reflect upon my grandmother and my great deal of pleasant experiences and memories. My perception of the color green, therefore, is wholly distinct from a simplistic explanation of the hue or tone of the color. Another interesting influence of Gestalt psychology was physics professor Ernst Mach. Mach used his physics background to explain that perceptions of objects......
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Gestalt and Client Centered Therapy
...separately as reading, writing and mathematics disorders, respectively. Diagnostic Criteria The clinical description of Specific according to the DSM 5 (American Psychiatric Association, 2013, 66-74) is explained as: A. Difficulties learning and using academic skills, as indicated by the presence of at least one of the following symptoms that have persisted for at least 6 months, despite the provision of interventions that target those difficulties: 1. Inaccurate or slow and effortful word reading (e.g., reads single words aloud incorrectly or slowly and hesitantly, frequently guesses words, has difficulty sounding out words). 2. Difficulty understanding the meaning of what is read (e.g., may read text accurately but not understand the sequence, relationships, inferences, or deeper meanings of what is read). 3. Difficulties with spelling (e.g., may add, omit, or substitute vowels or consonants). 4. Difficulties with written expression (e.g., makes multiple grammatical or punctuation errors within sentences; employs poor paragraph organization; written expression of ideas lacks clarity). 5. Difficulties mastering number sense, number facts, or calculation (e.g., has poor understanding of numbers, their magnitude, and relationships; counts on fingers to add single-digit numbers instead of recalling the math fact as peers do; gets lost in the midst of arithmetic computation and may switch procedures). 6. Difficulties with mathematical reasoning (e.g., has......
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Compare and Contrast Gestalt Therapy and Person Centred Therapy
...estalt Therapy Gestalt therapy is a form of psychotherapy that relates to the process of human perception and works on a basic concept of the Gestalt approach «The whole is different from the sum of its parts.» This approach in Gestalt psychotherapy describes the process of perception in addition to the psychic equipment in general. The Gestalt approach originated from research that was initiated by psychologists specializing in human perception which demonstrated that humans do not recognize objects as separate elements and instead organize the objects into significant totalities via the process of perception. The concept of Gestalt psychotherapy was then formally developed by Fritz Perlsduring the 1950s, a well known psychiatrist and psychotherapist that initiated an entirely new approach to psychotherapy. The name «Gestalt» means «form» and is derived from Hans-Jurgen Walter's «Gestalt Theory Psychotherapy» which is based on Gestalt psychology. Gestalt psychology relates to the interconnection of the individual and the increase in awareness where the individual's senses and behaviors merge together. Gestalt therapywas created to help individuals with problem solving. Fritz Perls noticed that the concept of individualism was a positive one but there was also a reverse side to this theory. The people who were looking for the answer to their hopes and dreams looked to Gestalt therapy as the answer which eventually became a weak point in the methodology. He added that for a...
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... Gestalt Psychology Gestalt psychology is best describe as a school of thought which looks into the human mind and behavior as a whole. The main idea behind Gestalt psychology is that the human mind considers objects as a whole before, or in parallel with, a perception of their individual parts. Many Gestalt psychologists believed that all mental experience was not only dependent on just a specific combination of elements. They were also dependent patterns and organization of an individual experience of perceptions. Founded by three German psychologists in 1910 Wolfgang Kolhler, Kurt Koffka, and Max Wertheimer had many contributions to the discipline. It began with the brilliant work of Max Wertheimer in response to the Wilhelm Wundt structuralism Gestalt psychology became establish. This development of psychology help inspires many individuals such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Immanuel Kant, and Ernst Mach. Gestalt psychology had many contributions to the discipline, especially with Gestalt therapy. Gestalt therapy specifically focuses on helping an individual raise their senses, feelings, and needs. Helping individuals expand their boundaries as well all while contributing to a person overall self-respect and well-being. Emphasizing on making strong connections, respectful meetings and establish great contact. Lewin's theory states that an individual is part of the community and should not be isolated. According to Gestalt......
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Gestalt Therapy with Children and a Comparative Therapy
...Introduction Gestalt therapy, which was founded by Fritz and Laura Perls in the 1940s, teaches the therapists and their clients the phenomenological awareness method, where feeling, perceiving and acting are differentiated from interpreting and rearranging the pre-existing attitudes. Gestalt therapists and clients’ dialogue, thus communicating their phenomenological perspectives, and their differences in perceptions form the basis and focus of experimentation and continued dialogue. The desired outcome of the therapy process is for the client to become aware of their actions, how they are acting, and the ways they can change their actions and learn to accept and appreciate themselves. Here, the emphasis is mainly on the process rather than the content of the therapy, that is, what is happening rather than what is being discussed. Gestalt therapy was mainly considered for adults. However, Violet Oaklander (2007) says that it is also suitable to be applied to children since it involves the body and the senses, all of which fit the therapeutic works with the children. The purpose of this paper is to formulate a response in the manner a Gestalt therapist would work with children of ages between 4 and 12. Here, the general and Gestalt literature is explored, synthesized and evaluated on working with this particular population, their specific needs and particular ethical challenges that may emerge while working with them. A comparison is offered on how different modalities with......
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...Influences of Gestalt psychology were Immanuel Kant’s study on the focuses of perception as a whole, Ernst Mach’s influence of sensation thinking, and Christin von Ehrenfel’s further exploration and experimentation on Mach’s sensations theory. Max Wertheimer studied Ehrenfel’s work and used it as the bass for his movement of the Gestalt theory. In addition, the two other founders of Gestalt psychology, Kurt Koffka and Wolfgang Kohler, studied elements of consciousness and artificial abstractions that furthered Gestalt research and movement. “After Wertheimer initiated the studies on the perception of apparent movement, Gestalt psychologists seized on other perceptual phenomena. The experience of perceptual constancies afforded additional support for their views” (Schultz, 2011, p. 271). The idea of perceptual constancy is having completeness and or wholeness not very even if information is missing. Gestalt psychology is theory of the mind being so complex and dynamic that sensory elements such as vision and sound interact in order to fill in missing information that is perceived by an individual who is perceiving the information given. The founders of Gestalt psychology explain perceptual and a few defining principles. The first law is similarity, meaning items are perceived as being together such as forming a group. For example, if an individual were to see a group of squares and circles the law similarity would allow the individual to group the squares and circles......
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Gestalt Therapy in Practice
...Gestalt therapy, although looked upon rather suspiciously by many people, grows ever more popular and widespread over time, and begins to be well-known to people who are generally very far from the problems of psychology. Here is the exemplary account of one of cases when it helped a person to develop her inner potentials and make a decision that changed her life. A woman in question, for the purposes of convenience let’s call her Jenny, moved to the new place of residence in another town and only managed to get a job of boiler-house employee, because there were not much job opportunities for outsiders. After a while, she entered a course of Gestalt therapy, which was formed along the following pattern. All the participants of this group therapy in turn communicated with the psychologist who directed the course, and we told to form images of two living beings: the one that they liked and the one they disliked. Jenny liked “the fox” (for being cunning, brave and active) and disliked “the hen” (for being passive, silly and inert). The idea of the therapy is that the liked image is what the person wants to become, while the disliked one – what she is. Over the course of communication with the psychologist, the patient and the whole group come to a decision how close the patient is to his or her desired image. In two subsequent sessions the patient imagines herself to be what she likes and what she dislikes in turn; in the course of this study, the patient together with the...
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The Gestalt Theory
...There are many types of therapy that have been included and excluded throughout history. Starting from Freud and his gateway into the subconscious mind and psychoanalysis, there have been many people and innovations in the psychiatric world that have spurred from him. One of those innovations was the Gestalt Theory by Fredrick S. Perls. The background behind Perls and his theory, an analysis of what his theory was and what it did, and how it is still used today, is what is focused on in this paper. Fredrick S. Perls created the Gestalt Theory in the 1940’s and continued to have an influence on culture through the 1950’s. His main interests in existenalism and Eastern religions, and Gestalt psychology contradicted what his Freudian training had taught him, but in the end led him to his well-known Gestalt Theory. “Perls saw the human being as a unified organism, an integration of mental, physical, emotional. And sensory processes expressed in the present moment” (Irving B. & Craighead, 2010). A lot of Perls work had been influenced by Kurt Goldstein, a neurologist, Moreno’s social experimentation, field therapy by Kurt Lewin, and ideas derived from Zen (Gaie, 2003). His theory focused on the less shy and submissive idea of feelings and brought up the value of the client/patient dynamic and the effectiveness of facing the problem head on. Even though all the people and therapy’s listed above had an influence on Perls, he was able to mesh all of what he had learned together...
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...Thaliya Dublin Counseling and Theories MS D, Zack Introduction Gestalt Therapy was developed in the 1940's and 1950's by Frederick Peer’s a to the United States. Gestalt is German word that refers to completeness and the concept that a whole unit is more than the sum of its parts like person-centered therapy, Gestalt therapy tries to make the individual take responsibility for their own lives and personal growth and to recognize their ability for healing themselves. However, Gestalt therapy is being willing to use confrontational questions and techniques that help the individual to express their true feelings. The basic assumption for this model is that the body and its total developments are in some way bigger than the mind. The Gestalt therapy perceives the mind to be a way of blocking the total drive of the individual in some way. According to Perl's for most individuals the mind and the creations of the mind work against the body. They work against the best interests of the total individual. Therefore the mind is not the center of the individual on the contrary it is the center of the dishonesty that the individual has about himself. As a result, in order to come of age, to become somewhat dishonest about him/her the individual then becomes cast out of his/her own of defense he/she is cut off from reality, and the individual doesn’t see the real world as it is because he/she perceives it as a risk in a distorted way. Furthermore it may have in fact all started at......
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My Beliefs, Values and Clinical Gestalt
...My Beliefs, Values, and Clinical Gestalt with Individual’s and Systems Jerra K. Roberts University of Phoenix CERTIFICATE OF ORIGINALITY: I certify that the attached paper, which was produced for the class identified above, is my original work and has not previously been submitted by me or by anyone else for any class. I further declare that I have cited all sources from which I used language, ideas and information, whether quoted verbatim or paraphrased, and that any and all assistance of any kind, which I received while producing this paper, has been acknowledged in the References section. This paper includes no trademarked material, logos, or images from the Internet, which I do not have written permission to include. I further agree that my name typed on the line below is intended to have, and shall have the same validity as my handwritten signature. Student's signature (name typed here is equivalent to a signature): ___Jerra K. Roberts ________________________ ___ My Beliefs, Values and Clinical Gestalt with Individual’s and Systems’ Clinicians working in the Human Service field have extremely challenging jobs. They must learn to balance their own beliefs with the client’s beliefs. This involves taking the clinicians’ personal values and experiences and putting them aside to determine what is the best treatment approach for the client. Recognizing my own identity will help me see how I fit in the community and with the clients who I interact......
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What Is Gestalt Therapy
...What is Gestalt Therapy? http://www.westhartfordcounselingcenter.com/gestalt.html Gestalt therapy is a type of therapy used to deepen our awareness of ourselves and our feelings in a less intellectual manner than the more traditional forms of therapy. "Gestalt" means the whole; it implies wholeness. In any experience or interaction there are feelings in the foreground and in the background. The idea in Gestalt therapy is that all of us have had to repress or supress aspects of ourselves because they were not accepted or supported. It is these aspects of ourselves or our feelings that end up in the background and can become unfinished business. Gestalt therapy can help shed light on unfinished business by helping us to focus our awareness on our feelings (or lack of feelings) moment to moment. Once we recognize our unfinished business,( i.e. uncomfortable feelings, stuck patterns of behavior, or ways in which we perceive ourselves and others that are based on our experiences as opposed to reality), we are better equipped to understand ourselves and to choose whether we want to make changes or not. [pic] One method utilized in Gestalt therapy is the empty-chair technique. This is a simple tool in self-exploration and is clearly explained in an excerpt taken from the Internet. When you go see a Gestalt therapist, the office will usually have an extra chair--an empty chair. This chair serves an important function. The therapist may ask you to imagine holding...
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“I do my thing and you do your thing.
I am not in this world to live up to your expectations
And you are not in this world to live up to mine.
You are you and I am I,
And if by chance we find each other, it’s beautiful.
If not, it cannot be helped.”
(Fritz Perls, 1969, in Gladding, 2000)
Gestalt Therapy was developed in the 1940’s by Fritz and Laura Perls and further influenced by the likes of Kurt Lewin and Kurt Goldstein (Corsini & Wedding, 2000). It was developed as a revision to psychoanalysis and focuses on an experiential and humanistic approach rather than analysis of the unconscious which was one of the main therapeutic tools at the time Gestalt Therapy was employed.
Gestalt Therapy rejects the dualities of mind and body, body and soul, thinking and feeling, and feeling and action. According to Perls, people are not made up of separate components, this is, mind, body and soul, rather human beings function as a whole. In doing so, one defines who one is (sense of self) by choice of responses to environmental interactions (boundaries). The word “Gestalt” (of German origin) refers to a “whole, configuration, integration, pattern or form” (Patterson, 1986).
The form of Gestalt Therapy practiced today utilises ideas, data and interventions from multiple sources, as well as some of the original techniques known to be ‘Gestalt Therapy techniques’. It is noted that Gestalt Therapy has a history of being an approach which creates or borrows specific techniques that are focused on assisting the client to take the next step in their personal growth and development.
Several key concepts underlie Gestalt Therapy, many of which are similar to that of person-centred and existential therapy. However, what does differentiate Gestalt Therapy from these therapies are some of the ideas added by Perls and associates as well as distinctive therapeutic techniques that will be covered further down (Seligman, 2006). The following are the key concepts of Gestalt Therapy:
Wholeness and Integration: Wholeness refers to the whole person or the individual’s mind and body as a unit rather than as separate parts (Seligman, 2006). Integration refers to how these parts fit together and how the individual integrates into the environment. Often people who come to therapy do not have these parts fitting together in their environment, Gestalt Therapy is about facilitating clients to integrate themselves as whole persons and help restore balance in their environment.
Awareness: Awareness is one of the most important elements in Gestalt Therapy as it is seen as a “hallmark of the healthy person and a goal of treatment” (Seligman, 2006). When individuals are “aware”, they are able to self-regulate in their environment.
There are two main causes lacking awareness:
- Preoccupation with one’s past, fantasies, flaws and strengths that the individual becomes unaware of the whole picture.
There are three ways people may achieve awareness through therapy:
- Contact with the environment: This is through looking, listening, touching, talking, moving, smelling, and tasting. This enables the individual to grow in his or her environment through reacting to the environment and changing.
- Here and now: This is the individual living in and being conscious at the present moment rather than worrying about the past or the future.
- Responsibility: This refers to the individual taking responsibility for his or her own life rather than blaming others.
Energy and blocks to energy: Gestalt Therapists often focus on where energy is in the body, how it is used, and how it may be causing a blockage (Corey, 2005). Blocked energy is a form of resistance, for example, tension in a part of the body, not breathing deeply, or avoiding eye contact. Gestalt Therapy is about finding and releasing the blockages that may be inhibiting awareness.
Growth Disorders: Growth disorders refer to emotional problems that are caused by people who lack awareness and do not interact with their environment completely. In doing so, people are unable to cope with the changes in their lives successfully and, instead deal with the problems in a defensive manner (Seligman, 2006).
Unfinished business: Unfinished business refers to people who do not finish things in their lives and is often related to people with a “growth disorder” (Seligman, 2006). People with unfinished business often resent the past and because of this are unable to focus on the here and now. One of the major goals of Gestalt Therapy is to help people work through their unfinished business and bring about closure.
General Ideas about Personality Development
Gestalt Therapy deems that people cannot be considered as separate from their environment or from interpersonal relations. The individual is seen as being self-regulating and is able to motivate oneself to solve problems. Individuals are able to work towards growth and develop as their environments allow.
A psychologically healthy person is someone who is self-regulating through the changes in life and has developed a sense of “wholeness” between mind and body (Corsini & Wedding, (2000).
Therapeutic Techniques & Methods of Working
The most important goal of Gestalt Therapy is that Gestalt Therapists do not aim to change their clients. The therapist’s role is to assist clients in developing their own self-awareness of how they are in the present moment. This will therefore allow them to rectify issues affecting his or her life.
“The therapist’s job is to invite clients into an active partnership where they can learn about themselves by adopting an experiential attitude toward life in which they try out new behaviours and notice what happens” (Perls, Hefferline and Goodman, 1954, in Corey, 2005).
A focus of developing awareness is that of clients’ awareness of their own realities. In order to do this, clients must first accept responsibility for choosing their present situations. Language plays a big part in accepting responsibility. The client may attempt to use avoidance responses or project individual traits onto other people or external causes, for example “She makes me so angry”; “It’s his fault”. Both avoidance responses and projection of traits attempt to displace ownership and responsibility onto an external cause.
Another goal of Gestalt Therapy is that therapists should work to create an “I-thou” relationship with clients in which both the therapist and client are present in the here-and-now rather than focusing on the past or future (Seligman, 2006).
Also, an understanding of the whole of the client’s experience is required by the therapist. This involves considering the client’s verbal and non-verbal communication. In fact, the nonverbal communication is seen to provide more information about the real essence of the person.
Thus, an important function of the Gestalt Therapist is paying attention to the client’s body language such as the client’s posture, movements, gestures, voice, and hesitations as the body language is considered to be reflective of what the client is going through at that point in time.
Experiments: Gestalt Therapists use the technique of experiments or learning experiences with their clients. The experiments are designed for the individual and take the form of an enactment, role play, homework, or other activity which promotes the individual’s self-awareness (Seligman, 2006).
An example of this technique is with a man who feels insecure in social situations. He has a work function to go to in two weeks time so the therapist gives him the experiment of starting a conversation at the function with someone he does not normally speak to. Spending time thinking about what he might say promotes self-awareness and the experiment itself gives him more confidence in social situations.
Use of Language: Gestalt Therapists choose language that will encourage change in the client. The following are ways that this can be accomplished (Seligman, 2006):
- Emphasis on statements rather than questions to highlight a collaborative client-therapist relationship.
- “What” and “How” questions (when questions are used) to keep the client in the present and promote integration.
- “I” statements are used to promote clients ownership of feelings rather than placing blame on others.
- The present tense is used so the focus is on the present rather than the past.
- Encouraging responsibility for clients of their words, emotions, thoughts, and behaviours so they recognize and accept what they are feeling.
Empty Chair: The empty chair technique is a “method of facilitating the role-taking dialogue between the patient and others or between parts of the patient’s personality. It is generally used in a group situation” (Patterson, 1986). Two chairs are placed facing each other: one represents the patient or one aspect of the patient’s personality, and the other represents another person or the opposing part of the personality. As the patient alternates the role, he or she sits in one or the other chair.
The therapist may simply observe as the dialogue progresses or may instruct the patient when to change chairs, suggest sentences to say, call the patient’s attention to what has been said, or ask the patient to repeat or exaggerate words or actions.
In the process, emotions and conflicts are evoked, impasses may be brought about and resolved, and awareness and integration of polarities may develop — polarities or splits within the patient, between the patient and other persons, or between the patient’s wants and the social norms (Patterson, 1986).
Topdog — Underdog: A commonly utilised Gestalt technique is that of the topdog-underdog dialogue. This technique is used when the therapist notices two opposing opinions/attitudes within the client. The therapist encourages the client to distinguish between these two parts and play the role of each in a dialogue between them (Patterson, 1986).
The tyrannical ‘topdog’ demands that things be a particular way whilst the ‘underdog’ plays the role of disobedient child. The individual becomes split between the two sides struggling for control.
Dreams: Dreams are used to bring about integration by the client. The focus of a client’s dream is not on the unconscious, rather on projections or aspects of the dreamer (Seligman, 2006). The therapist would get clients to talk about their dream/s in terms of the significance of each role in the dream and this allows clients to take responsibility for the dreams and increase awareness of their thoughts and emotions.
Fantasy: Fantasy is used in Gestalt Therapy to increase clients’ self-awareness of their thoughts and emotions and to bring about closure to unfinished business (Seligman, 2006). Therapists use guided imagery techniques (fantasy) to encourage clients to imagine situations such as what they would do in a certain situation or by projecting themselves into different roles.
The Body as a Vehicle of Communication: Gestalt Therapy sees that not only are thoughts and emotions important to creating a feeling of “wholeness” for the client, the physical sensations are also important. Seligman (2006) has identified three strategies to help with focusing attention on the physical sensations:
Identification: Gestalt Therapists should be able to recognise physical signs of their clients. For example, a client might be tapping their feet on the ground. The therapist may say “Become your leg and give it a voice?” This creates awareness of the client’s physical sensations and emotions.
Locating emotions in the body: Gestalt Therapists may ask clients where they are experiencing the emotion in their body. For example, a client may say they are feeling nervous about something. The therapist may ask where this is coming from in the body and the response from the client may be that the feeling is butterflies in the stomach. This helps the client to bring about more awareness into sensations and their emotions.
Repetition and exaggeration: If there is repetition such as the example of the client tapping their feet on the ground, the therapist would get them to exaggerate the movement and talk about feelings that come up. This in turn focuses on the emotion and should help to release the blocked awareness.
Confusion: The technique of dealing with confusion of the client is about drawing attention to the client’s hesitation in talking about something unpleasant. The hesitation can be shown through avoidance, blanking out, verbalism and fantasy (Patterson, 1986). By drawing attention to the hesitation, it creates self-awareness for the client and allows the client to work through the issue.
Confrontation: In Gestalt Therapy, confrontation means ‘to challenge or frustrate the client’. The client is challenged with sensitivity and empathy on the part of the therapist to face the issues important to them. It is an invaluable tool for bringing clients into clear awareness of their realities, when used appropriately. However, confrontation is not a technique that can be used with all clients.
Originally Gestalt Therapy was predominantly used to treat individuals who were anxious and/or depressed and who were not showing serious pathological symptoms. Although still used in the treatment of anxiety and depression, Gestalt Therapy has been effective in treating clients with personality disorders such as borderline personality disorder.
Gestalt Therapy is also effective in counselling groups, couples, and families (Corsini & Wedding, 2000).
- There is empirical research to support Gestalt Therapy and its techniques (Corsini & Wedding, 2000). Specifically,
- Gestalt Therapy is equal to or greater than other therapies in treating various disorders, Gestalt Therapy has a beneficial impact with personality disorders, and the effects of therapy are stable.
- Works with the past by making it relevant to the present (Corey, 2005).
- Versatile and flexible in its approach to therapy. It has many techniques and may be applied to different therapeutic issues.
- For Gestalt Therapy to be effective, the therapist must have a high level of personal development (Corey, 2005).
- Effectiveness of the confronting and theatrical techniques of Gestalt Therapy is limited and has not been well established.
- It has been considered to be a self-centred approach which is concerned with just individual development.
- Potential danger for therapists to abuse the power they have with clients (Corey, 2005).
- Lacks a strong theoretical base.
- Deals only with the here and now.
- Does not deal with diagnosis and testing.
Gestalt Therapy focuses on the integration between the “whole” person and his or her environment. This therapy sees a healthy individual as being someone who has awareness in his or her life and lives in the here and now rather than focusing on the past or future. Gestalt Therapy has a number of successful techniques that are applicable in therapy today and may be utilised across a broad spectrum of emotional issues.
- Corey, C. (2005). Theory and practice of counseling & psychotherapy. (7th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson Learning.
- Corsini, R.J., & Wedding, D. (Eds.). (2000). Current Psychotherapies. (6th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson Learning, Inc.
- Gladding, S.T. (2000). Counseling: A comprehensive profession. (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc.
- Paterson, C. H. (1986). Theories of counselling and psychotherapy. New York, NY: Harper & Row.
- Seligman, L. (2006). Theories of counseling and psychotherapy: Systems, strategies, and skills. (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education, Ltd.