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Gestalt Therapy

Source: Corey, G. Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy, 9th Ed


Basic Philosophy The person strives for wholeness and integration of thinking, feeling, and
behaving. Some key concepts include contact with self and others,
contact boundaries, and awareness. The view is nondeterministic in that
the person is viewed as having the capacity to recognize how earlier
influences are related to present diffi culties. As an experiential
approach, it is grounded in the here and now and emphasizes awareness,
personal choice, and responsibility.
Key Concepts Emphasis is on the what and how of experiencing in the here and
now to help clients accept all aspects of themselves. Key concepts include
holism, fi gure-formation process, awareness, unfi nished business and
avoidance, contact, and energy.
Goals of Therapy To assist clients in gaining awareness of moment-to-moment
experiencing and to expand the capacity to make choices. To foster
integration of the self.
Therapeutic Relationship Central importance is given to the I/Thou relationship and the quality of
the therapists presence. The therapists attitudes and behavior count
more than the techniques used. The therapist does not interpret for
clients but assists them in developing the means to make their own
interpretations. Clients identify and work on unfinished business from the
past that interferes with current functioning.

Techniques of Therapy A wide range of experiments are designed to intensify experiencing and
to integrate confl icting feelings. Experiments are co-created by therapist
and client through an I/Thou dialogue. Therapists have latitude to
creatively invent their own experiments. Formal diagnosis and testing are
not a required part of therapy.
Application Addresses a wide range of problems and populations: crisis intervention,
treatment of a range of psychosomatic disorders, couples and family
therapy, awareness training of mental health professionals, behavior
problems in children, and teaching and learning. It is well suited to both
individual and group counseling. The methods are powerful catalysts for
opening up feelings and getting clients into contact with their present-
centered experience.

Contribution The emphasis on direct experiencing and doing rather than on merely
talking about feelings provides a perspective on growth and
enhancement, not merely a treatment of disorders. It uses clients
behavior as the basis for making them aware of their inner creative
potential. The approach to dreams is a unique, creative tool to help
clients discover basic conflicts. Therapy is viewed as an existential
encounter; it is process-oriented, not technique-oriented. It recognizes
nonverbal behavior as a key to understanding.
Limitation Techniques lead to intense emotional expression; if these feelings are not
explored and if cognitive work is not done, clients are likely to be left
unfinished and will not have a sense of integration of their learning.
Clients who have difficulty using imagination may not profit from certain
experiments.