Gestalt therapy gives permission to be exuberent, shows the potential to be creative and fully embrace life. The patterns we habitually live by are often incomplete or inappropriate for achieving that fulfilment. The focus is on gaining awareness now, so that we can take responsibility for the choices that we make for ourselves. Responsibility is the ability to respond. As a result we can live more fully in the present and find meaning in our inner and outer worlds.
Reason for Gestalt Therapy
- Unfinished business.
- Developing human potential.
- Awareness is an integral part of Gestalt therapy. it is an ongoing process which is always available and of and by itself is able to initiate change.
- The therapist is his/her own instrument. (The therapist uses his/her own psychological, physical and energetic state as an instrument of therapy. It is as if a therapist becomes a resonating chamber for what is going on between him/herself and the client.)
- Responsibility (The ability to respond rather than the compulsion to react) Power in the present, the journey is in the here and now.
- Experience and experiment counts most.
- The basic technique of this is to not explain things to the client, but to provide the client with opportunities to understand and to discover him or herself.
- Everybody is already whole.
- Growth takes place in relationship to other and self. (dialogical relationship)
- Everything is connected (field theory)
- We work with the paradoxical theory of change. Change occurs when I become what I am, not what I try to become, what I am not. This takes great self acceptance.
- Gestalt works in a phenomenological approach. It helps the client to know "who he is and how he is."
Meaning of the Word Gestalt
The German word, "Gestalt" is untranslatable into a single English term. It
covers a multitude of related concepts like countenance, shape, form, figure,
configuration, structural entity, a whole that is something more than, or
different from, the sum of its parts. A Gestalt stands out from the background;
it "exists", and the relationship of a figure to its ground is what we call
"meaning". If this relationship is tenuous or nonexistent, or if, for whatever
reasons (cultural, educational), we are unable to recognise and understand it,
we say: "It doesn't make sense. It is absurd, bizarre, meaningless."
(Laura Perls, Chapter 16, "Comments on the New Directions", THE GROWING EDGE OF GESTALT THERAPY, p. 221 Edward W. L. Smith)
Gestalt therapy is a well-established and accepted form of psychotherapy, historically arising from the solid foundation of classical Analysis and its further development, of the Object-relations Psychodynamic schools of psychotherapy, influenced by the Reichian approach to the physical body and Moreno's techniques, and later by the concept of the Gestalt Psychologists. This approach emphasises the human potential of movement towards self-actualisation and responsibility, rather than allowing the self to be "healed" by the therapist. This form of psychotherapy can be used with a larger variety of clients than most other approaches.
Present-Centeredness in Gestalt Therapy
Whatever exists is here and now. The past exists now as memory, nostalgia, regret, resentment, fantasy, legend, history. The future exists here and now in the actual present as anticipation, planning, rehearsal, expectation and hope, or dread and despair. Gestalt therapy takes its bearings from what is here and now, not from what has been or what should be. It is an existential - phenomenological approach, and as such it has to be experiential and experimental.
The actual experience of any present situation does not need to be explained or interpreted: it can be directly contacted, felt and described here and now...
The goal of Gestalt therapy is the awareness continuum, the freely ongoing Gestalt formation where what is of greatest concern and interest to the organism, the relationship, the group or society becomes Gestalt, comes into the foreground where it can be fully experienced and coped with (acknowledged, worked through, sorted out, changed, disposed of, etc.) so that then it can melt into the background (be forgotten or assimilated and integrated) and leave the foreground free for the next relevant Gestalt.
Thought Provoking Quotes From Gestalt Literature:
"To be aware of our body in terms of the things we know and do, is to feel alive. This awareness is an essential part of our existence as sensuous people." (Erving and Miriam Polster)
"A most difficult to teach is that only the present exists now and that to stray fom it, distracts from the living quality of reality." (Erving and Miriam Polster)
"Bringing alienated parts of an individual back into contact with each other is a natural extension of the fundamental Gestalt principals that contact creates change." (Erving and Miriam Polster)
Tara holds experiential training workshops for trainee counsellors and counsellors at New Grove, where participants are encouraged to explore for themselves the impact of this modality.