Gestalt Therapy

Review the brief biographies of Fritz and Laura Perls at the beginning of the chapter. Gestalt therapy is holistic. Holism is one of the foundational principles of Fritz Perls, psychiatrist: humans should be viewed as a whole rather than as a sum of discretely functioning parts. Goal in therapy is the integration of all the parts: thoughts, feelings, behaviors, body, and dreams. Gestalt therapy is humanistic in that the therapeutic relationship is Rogerian( genuine, UPR, empathic), and the necessary awareness for the client comes as a result of the I/Thou relating between therapist and client. Gestalt therapy is existential in that the belief is that people are always in the process of becoming, remaking and rediscovering themselves. Goal in therapy is to encourage the client to assume ownership of his experiences. Gestalt therapy is phenomenological in that it focuses on the client’s perceptions of reality. If that reality is made known through increased awareness, then change can take place. Gestalt therapy is experiential, promoting awareness and the direct experiencing of the present rather than on the abstractness of talking about an experience. The here-and-now focus is a primary characteristic of this type of therapy. It is important that the client knows what and how she is thinking, feeling, and doing as she interacts with the therapist. The goal: “Fully present in a genuine encounter.” Focus in on the present with “what” and ‘how” questions asked, rather than “why” questions (see p. 195 for examples) Gestalt therapy is teleological, or goal-oriented, moving the client toward self-support, but “interdependent” with the environment, and helping the client to “reintegrate the disowned parts of personality.” Values and skills are developed that will allow the client to satisfy her needs without violating the rights of others.

and refers to them as channels of resistance. They identify five such channels: introjection. full energy.Gestalt therapy is based on field theory. in flux. and following an intense contact there is typically a withdrawal to integrate what has been learned. “Unacknowledged feelings create unnecessary emotional debris that clutters present-centered awareness. grief. retroflection. hatred. Gestalt therapy recognizes defense mechanisms or strategies. guilt and abandonment. where trying out new thoughts and feelings and behaviors are accepted. there are levels of contact. interrelated. anxiety. and in process. pain. Blocked energy may be manifested by physical sensations or actions that the therapist will recognize and make the client aware of. rage. Everything is relational. Humans must interact with nature and with other humans without losing one’s sense of individuality. one’s personal field is both the internal (psyche) and external (object) environments with which one comes into contact. Prerequisites for healthy contact: clear awareness. deflection and confluence (see pp. good communication skills. within a context of the I/Thou dialogue in a here-and-now framework . projection. awareness of bodily sensations and psychosomatic responses that may be the result of unfinished business.” Gestalt therapy focuses on social connectedness. 197-198 for definitions). The Therapeutic Process The Gestalt therapist • Creates a climate that is safe. Gestalt therapy focuses on unfinished business of the client which is often manifested in the present by resentment. These strategies serve to block contact with others. Boundaries are necessary for both healthy connection and separateness. so that a psychological equilibrium can be restored. or in experiencing a stuck point Goal: to face and deal with unexpressed feelings. The goal: to be aware of figure-and-ground dynamics and to learn to effectively “self-regulate” as figure changes. the lifeblood of growth.

The Exaggeration Exercise. Making the Rounds. accommodation to the new discoveries by trying out new behaviors. with gentleness and empathy. assimilation. and. • Does not interpret or explain behaviors. take a stand. The Reversal Exercise. where he is interested in acknowledging the needs and experiences of the client. where the client learns how to influence his environment. attending to the client’s phenomenology. improvise responses to new challenges. become confident as a powerful person Remains herself. but assume the client will be an active participant who will make her own interpretations. carrying out homework assignments. Staying with the Feeling. Experiments that are reviewed in the text include The Internal Dialogue Exercise. sharing her personal experiences in significant ways. “artistic participants in the creation of new life. 210-214). 201-202. giving honest feedback. thoughts and/or attitudes. See the useful guidelines on page 208 for preparing clients for Gestalt experiments. Takes a confirming stance as a therapy style.” Prepares clients for Gestalt experiments that will emphasize the present emotional or cognitive aspects of an encounter with the environment. rather than an imposing or competing one. • Sets the stage for the client to experience a three-stage integration sequence that characterizes personal growth. expressing their reactions and observations. and promoting free function and change. making new choices. • • • . Dream Work (see pp. The Rehearsal Exercise. Note the examples presented on pp.• Calls attention to the nonverbal cues presented by the client and any incongruities between what the body is saying and the language that is being used for expression • Emphasizes the use of language or speech patterns that are used to convey emotions. The three stages: discovery about the self in relation to the environment.

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