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GESTALT

THERAPY

(a class discussion)
ANITA F. ALISACA JOSEFINA P. DEJORAS
MA Clinical Psych Professor

March 2009
GESTALT THERAPY
 Frederich (Fritz) Perls developer of
Gestalt Therapy
(with Laura Perls & Paul Goodman)

 Gestalt Therapy – a humanistic


approach to psychotherapy which
includes psychoanalysis,
existentialism, and phenomenology.

 Gestalt Therapy is a synthesis of many


existing elements and concepts interrelated
into a meaningful, new whole.-
 (Maria Kirchner,2000)
Concepts that embodies Gestalt Therapy:
Organismic Theory –
 end goals are based on biological
needs
 When those needs emerged in
our consciousness perception is
organized
 Person is able to differentiate
what is needed in a particular
situation
 Thus, that particular end goal
was brought to awareness
“In a healthy natural existence, our daily life would
be an open, flowing process of organismic needs
emerging into awareness” (Prochaska &
Norcross, 1999)
 Person then interact with the
environment to satisfy that end
goal
“It is in this continual process of bringing
completeness to our needs, the process of
forming wholes or Gestalts that maintains the
integrity of organism”
Holism (Jan smuts) - the
organism is a self-regulating
entity

Field Theory (Kurt Lewin) - the


world is seen as a systematic
web of relationship. Reality is
configured by relationships
and is a function of
perspective.
Gestalt Psychology (Wertheimer, Koffka &
Kohler) -: Principles of Perception & Cognition

Principles of Proximity

Principles of Closure

Reversible Figure-
Ground Image
GESTALT THERAPY THEORY OF PERSONALITY
Gestalt therapy maintains there is no
meaningful way to consider any self-
regulating living organism apart from its
interactions with the environment,
making contact as an integrated aspect
of all experiences, in fact experience
does not exist without contact, and it is
contact between humans that dominates
the formation and functions of our
personalities.
4 Major Concepts:
1. Entity of the Organism –(organismic self-
regulation) the organism is an ordered
whole, intrinsically self-regulating
individual, seeking growth towards
maturity and the fulfillment of its nature.

2. Biological Field Theory – all organisms exist


in environmental contexts with reciprocal
influences on each other.
3. The Need for Contact and
Relationship – Contact being
the responsive meeting with
the other (environmental &
internal others), is the
lifeblood of growth (Polster &
Polster, 1980 p 101) and is
paramount for survival and
change.

4. Awareness and Unawareness


– the idea of consciousness &
unconsciousness; the capacity
for making wholes;
GESTALT’S THEORY OF PSYCHOPATHOLOGY
 Barriers to a Healthy Awareness:
 1.Interruptions of Automatic Self-
Regulating Actions (Conflicts w/in)
-Polarities: Top Dog/Under Dog
-Homeostasis
-Disowning
 2.Shoulds
 3.Intrusion of Unfinished Business
 4.Contact Boundary Disturbances:
 (Interruptions of Contact)-distortions in
perceptions of borders
-Introjection
-Projection
-Retroflection
-Deflection
-Confluence
GESTALT’S THERAPEUTIC PROCESS
 The Therapeutic Relationship

 The Goal of Therapy

 The Process: Perls’s Peeling


The Onion:
1. Phony Layer
2. Phobic Layer
3. Impasse Layer
4. Implosive Layer
5. Explosive Layer

 Gestalt Techniques:

 -Body Awareness
 -Experimentation
 -Role Playing
 -Empty-Chair Technique
 -Psychodrama
 -Language Modification