Gestalt Therapy developed out of Gestalt Psychology in the 1950s and ’60s.
Gestalt is a German word referring to ‘the process of how we perceive’ and how we give meaning to our existence (existentialism). Contacting others and our environment is important in how we live in the world (intentionality). Contact and how we make contact is integral to Gestalt therapy.
We never live in a ‘bubble’; we live in relationship; various tools and skills are available for examining the experiences we have in the moment and how we make or block contact. The experience of emotions, bodily sensations and perceptions are brought to awareness and experiments can be undertaken to try out new ways of being in the world while not losing sight and affects the world has upon us.
Support is a very important part in Gestalt Therapy. Entering therapy can be difficult. How do we support ourselves in this process? Self support, environmental support and support from others including the therapy session can be looked at.
Gestalt is an effective change and empowering concept that can increase our awareness and lead to improved relationships and sense of being human. The uniqueness and holistic nature of the individual is recognised as is the holistic nature of the universe. The process emphasised in Gestalt is for the individual to find and define their own journey and not feel they have to ‘fit in’.
Individual awareness is at the heart of Gestalt therapy, and this awareness can be the catalyst for change or development. It is important for this change to occur at the pace suited to the individual and to arise from within. Clients are accepted as they are in the situation and not labelled as ill or a problem. We are all at the stage we are through working with the creativity that is available to us (creative adjustment). It is this creativity that in the sessions, we seek to harness and use to map and integrate change. Particular emphasis is placed on how we related in the session and outside with others and the world.
Gestalt therapy affects the abilities of the client as described by Malcolm Parlett (2000):
(1) try new things and to become more creative in meeting his or her needs (referred to as experimenting);
(2) develop the ability to be more in touch with his or her body (referred to as embodying) and the senses that inform about contacting in the environment;
(3) expand upon abilities to recognize (referred to as self-recognition) and appreciate his or her experience of self;
(4) the capacity for relationship (referred to as interrelating), and
(5) the ability to take responsibility for his or her own experience, including the choices the client makes and the natural consequences of making those choices (referred to as self-responsibility).