Gestalt Therapy Techniques | An Introduction

Gestalt therapy was founded by Fritz Perls and Laura Perls and Paul Goodman in the 1940s. It is useful for therapists and patients to learn the method of awareness, in which perceiving, feeling and acting are distinguished from interpreting preexisting attitudes. It is a form of psychotherapy which emphasizes on the experience of the individual at the present moment, the environment and social relations, therapist client, relationship and the adjustments and adaptations made by the individual in their respective situations. It helps a person to become aware of the thought processes that is currently in his or her foreground, events, and various interests of the person, relationships, and concerns. It makes one aware of the situation he is in and helps him acknowledge the facts, learn and cope up with the situation so that eventually that situation becomes of less importance to him and it merges into the background and equips the person to respond to the next foreground situation. It is based on four main pillars the phenomenological method, dialogical relationship, field theoretical strategies and experimental freedom. In recent times Gestalt therapy has been integrated with meditation in order to aid human development and is called Gestalt Practice, used by some practitioners.

Phenomenological method of Gestalt Therapy: The main goal of this method is awareness. It includes removal of all sorts of bias and prejudice on the part of the therapist in order that his observation is pure. It is further divided into the rule of epoche, rule of description and rule of horizontalization.

Dialogical approach: For this the therapist must create space for the client to enter in and be comfortable and surrender to dialogic process. It is necessary to accept the client in the way he presents be it obnoxious or even defensive or a superficially cooperative one. The therapist must be committed to the process, trusts in the process and does not attempt to save him or herself from it. The inclusion method mainly refers to the method where in the therapist must fully experience the clients suffering without judging, analyzing or interpreting while still retaining a sense of one’s own separate presence.

Field theoretical strategies of Gestalt Therapy: This can be done in two ways ontological dimensions and phenomenological dimensions wise. The latter refers to the physical and social environment one is in. The working place, the home, society are all included in the latter. The former field are the subjective phenomenon the patient experiences.

Experimental freedom: In this stage the client is enabled to act than merely talk about all their fears and problems. They therapist supports the client to experience new actions and face their fears and problems. For example, if the client is having problems with regards public speech or performance, then he is made to imagine a situation facing an audience and delivering a speech or performing successfully.

The therapeutic relationship in Gestalt therapy emphasizes on four characteristics of a dialogue: Inclusion, Presence, commitment to dialogue and a Dialogue is lived than just talked about.

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