Gestalt Therapy

What are you doing? What do you feel? What do you want?


People have problems because they are cut off from parts of themselves. We learn to fragment parts of ourselves that are “unacceptable” or may be “punished” Psychopathology is cured by reintegrating into a whole self

Gestalt Principle 1  Principle of Proximity.when stimuli are close together they tend to form one perceptual unit // // // // // //  What do you see above? .

Gestalt Principle 2  Principle of closure.incomplete figures are usually perceived as closed by the mind / \ / \ .

.we organize what we see into a shape in the foreground (figure) and a rather formless background (the ground). feelings and behaviors as well. This distinguishes between important and unimportant elements of the environment and applies to thoughts.Gestalt Principle 3  Figure/Ground Relation.

     Adult vs.A person’s need to balance polarities and accept opposites in the self.Gestalt Principle 4  Organismic Self-Regulation. care free Intellectual vs. weak Etc. emotional Strong vs. child Worried vs. .

Gestalt Concepts   Awareness is the key to positive growth and integration (Behaviors change is not a focus of therapy) Awareness comes from experience:    Contact Boundaries Support .

(ex.Contact Boundaries and Support  Contact: TH/Cl relationship is critical Boundaries connect and separate us    Weak boundaries-we confuse other’s needs with our own Rigid boundaries-we feel alone and alienated  Support: Anxiety occurs when we do not believe we have or will have the support we need. Fear of future events) .

Signs that you are out of touch with your emotions or needs .

concerns and opinions. Pearls . we are “rude to ourselves” disregarding our own interesrts.SHOULDS  A form of neurotic self-regulation  Occurs when you live according to rules you’ve learned so well that they seem natural Sometimes in automatically being polite and agreeable with others.

feeling toward other turned on self Deflection.avoiding contact with self or other Confluence.merging with another thru agreement of opinion or feeling (we are one) .Contact Boundary Disturbances  You believe your thinking and emotions really belong to or are shared by someone else (examples from couples therapy-219)      Introjection Projection Retroflection.

A client smiles and changes topic after reporting the death of her grandmother. including disowning experiences  Ex. without noticing having done so .Interruptions-Automatic SelfRegulation Actions  Automatically stopping acknowledgement of self or experience.

trying to relive it correctly. Transference To get “unstuck” one must accept the past vs. .Intrusions of Unfinished Business  Unresolved emotions and issues from the past effect the present.  Ex.

HOW DO YOU HELP YOUR CLIENT … to realize they have all the inner support they need .

don’t protect them from discomfort or responsibility Don’t interpret. impatience Admit to mistakes and unhealthy behavior in your own life Purposely frustrate your client. irritation. in the moment feedback to realize how they are viewed by others     Be and show your boredom. client’s need to form their own interpretations .Therapeutic Relationship  FORGET POSITIVE REGUARD  Client’s need direct.

Behaving inauthentically in social settings 2) The Phobic Layer.Peeling the onion      1) The Phony Layer.Removing Layers of Neuroses.Energy is spent covering feelings of fear and helplessness 3) The Impasse Layer. want help and others to tell them what to do 4) The Implosive Layer. thus people feel dead inside or cut off from their former self 5) The Explosive Layer.Stuck.Phony Identity Collapses.Letting go of old self. thus energy is freed up to form new self .

Techniques of Gestalt Therapy .

You are but a magnifying mirror    Every thing a patient does and does not do is an expression of the self Therapist asked questions (vs. statements/interpretations) based on these observations to bring awareness to the patient Focus on present moment .

but an experience  “Where do you feel your anger?” A feeling that one’s head is about to blow up is different from an ache in the stomach. An unconsciously clenched jaw may be a sign of an impulse to speak being repressed   Interventions:   If your clenched jaw could speak. Body Polarity-Not a discussion.Body Awareness  Mind vs. what would it say? Really exaggerate your clenched jaw to increase intensity while providing support of therapist .

.In Class Body Awareness Activity     Think of a strong emotion you recently felt Can you locate it in your body? Does it’s location clarify the emotion to you in any way? Feel the emotion and conduct a body scan to determine how you physically express this emotion.

advise a reversal. She has tried pursuit of him with no success. Advise her to pleasantly retreat into an activity of her own interest. but rather for some deeper understanding thru experimenting . Cl complains husband does not chat with her when he comes home from work. Ex.Experimentation  Experimental Homework. The client is not looking for a solution or relief from distress.

(Most clients don’t have practice staying with emotions. most of their energy is spent trying to move past or avoid the emotion) Use client’s imagination to actively fantasize and make experiences vivid   .Experimentation cont.  Turn statements about others into statements about self (to explore projection) Encourage client to “stay with” emotion in session.

Role Playing  Client acts out different perspectives. and soften the harsh internal critic (which helps to resolve intra psychic splits)  . etc. emotion. in session Empty Chair Technique. people polarities.act out character. inner conflict for conflict resolution. integration of polarities. depth of experience. conflicts.

Helps to integrate parts. make sense of and utilize dreams .Dream Work  Role Play dreams   1) Client presents dream in detail and in present tense 2) Client plays roles of persons and objects in dream Each part of a dream represents a projections or aspects of the dreamer.

The client can act as self and experiment with alternative ways of interacting. with client acting as the director. This is used to bring past into present. Doing it is always preferable to talking about it .Psychodrama  Uses a group of people to act out past experience of client.

Therapist insists on present tense and the use of the word “I” “I Can’t” must be said as “I choose not to”    “I have to” must be said “I want to” “I’m not able to” must be said “I decide not to” Adding on “ and I take responsibility for it” .Language Modification    Client’s language reveals their world view and typical methods of avoidance.

so I’ll go ahead and turn in my paper.” How does this client likely view Himself The world .” “My program advisors ganged up on me” and “I was torn to shreds about my paper by my teacher.Example     A Client says: I might as well get my nose cut now.

who run over other’s as a rule of thumb Delinquents Sociopaths Client’s with poorly developed empathy Unless modified to fit these populations .Limitation     Gestalt therapy is not for people with impulse control difficulties.

VERY individualistic Very emotionally expressive Anti-intellectualism Philosophically sloppy . loved an audience and was quite the narcissist. His original work may need to be tempered with interpersonal sensitivity and responsibility.Limitations      Pearls himself loved to shock. He fell asleep during sessions and had sex with clients.

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