Gestalt Therapy (Fritz Perls) is a here-and-now type of therapy.
Gestalt psychotherapy is a form of Humanistic Therapy and is influenced by Psychoanalytical theory. Gestalt therapy is complex and intuitive.
The name of this therapy is derived from the German word for “organised whole”.
The Gestalt approach stresses the need of wholeness between mind, body and soul. Self-awareness is a key concept of Gestalt thinking.
Gestalt therapy focuses on the whole of the client’s experience, including feelings, thoughts and actions.
The therapeutic process is “unpredictable”.
A therapist and a client follow moment-to-moment experience and neither knows exactly where this will take them.
Gestalt therapists seek to address conflicts that may prevent this perceived harmony.
Support is defined as anything that makes contact with or withdrawal from with the environment possible, including energy, body support, breathing, information, concern for others, and language. Gestalt therapists are very active and directive within the therapy session; they have characteristics that include sensitivity, timing, inventiveness, empathy, and respect for you.
The interaction between a therapist and a client is based on four characteristics of dialogue: Inclusion, in which the therapist puts him- or herself, as much as is possible, into the experience of the client. The therapist does not judge, analyse, or interpret what he or she observes.
Presence refers to the therapist expressing his or her observations, preferences, feelings, personal experience, and thoughts to the client. Commitment to dialogue allows a feeling of connection (contact) between the therapist and the client. Dialogue is active and can be nonverbal as well as verbal. It can be dancing, song, words, or any modality that expresses and moves the energy between the therapist and the client.
Aim: the development of client self-awareness and personal responsibility.
The client gains self-awareness by analysing behaviour and body language and talking about their feelings; works through and moves beyond painful emotional blocks, explores new behaviour and this is an ongoing process.
This approach often includes acting out scenarios and dream recall.
Main Principles are Holism, Field theory, “Organismic” self-regulation, “The Now” (the concept of the here and now), Unfinished business. The figure-formation process describes how individuals organize or manipulate their environment from moment to moment.
Gestalt therapy techniques which might be used are as follows:
* The statements and questions to focus awareness;
* Nonverbal behaviour;
* Self-dialogue by clients to get in touch with feelings, increase the integration of different parts of clients that do not match or conflicts in clients (the empty-chair technique);
* Enactment and dramatization to put feelings or thoughts into action;
* Guided fantasy (visualization);
* Dream work (a list of all the details of the dream, and then becoming each of these parts through role-playing, and inventing dialogue between these opposing sides, that leads clients toward gradual insight);
* Awareness of self and others (asking the client to play another person) - the process provides insight;
* Avoidance behaviours (the reintegration the client's avoidance behaviours);
* Homework (to write dialogues between parts of themselves or between parts of their bodies, or do other tasks).
Gestalt therapy is recommended for a wide range of psychosomatic disorders including migraine, ulcerative colitis, and spastic neck and back, anxiety, bereavement, depression, Insomnia, PTSD, alcohol and drug abuse, depression, psychotic disorders, brief crisis interventions, borderline personality disorders, individuals who have difficulties coping with authority figures.