It can be challenging for a client to talk to a psychotherapist and ask questions specific to the treatment. Many psychotherapists today use a holistic approach to treatment that integrates different elements of psychotherapy to create a bespoke treatment plan unique to the client.
As a treatment option, Gestalt therapy is relatively new, first developed by Fritz and Laura Perls and Paul Goodman in the early part of the 1940s. It was meant to be an alternative or a more creating and experimental experience in therapy from the more commonly used psychoanalysis.
The Basic Elements
Most people find Gestalt therapy a very comfortable experience. It is based on a holistic view of the person in their world. This theory respects the influence and the link between the person and the world around them. It also stresses that people naturally want to move towards self-awareness, growth, and balance in their life.
To accomplish this, the therapist strives to understand the client in his or her own space and environment. This is done through developing empathy, accepting the client and striving to understand the complete picture of the person in the specific environment.
At the same time, Gestalt therapy also understanding that true objectivity is not possible, and therapists are trained to accept the truth in their client’s experiences while minimizing their own personal experiences and perspectives that may create an alternative context.
Here and Now Lead to Change
Throughout Gestalt therapy sessions the therapist assists the client in gaining self-awareness and acceptance of their feelings and experiences. The focus allows the client to become more comfortable in accepting these realities as they rare explored in the sessions, generating the opportunity to change thinking and behaviour.
In many cases, people have learned to distrust or ignore their inner feelings and experiences. This leads to a defragmentation of experiences and a feeling of distress and anxiety. Through the sessions, the therapist will use creative approaches to assist clients to get in touch with the feelings that have been hidden, repressed or ignored.
Allowing clients to express themselves and feel comfortable and safe with those emotions in the therapeutic setting is at the centre of this therapy. The Empty Chair is a technique that is used in Gestalt therapy. The client will sit across from an empty chair and imagine a person in the other chair, and then have a conversation. The therapist will encourage this discussion, then assist the client in unpacking the experience and identifying specific emotions during the exercise.
The focus in Gestalt therapy is very much on the present. While may well be issues in the past that are part of the discussion, they are only relevant as to how they are impacting the client at this point in time.
It is possible to use Gestalt therapy in one-on-one sessions, which is perhaps the most common when clients think of therapy. This is also a method that can be used in group activities as well, particularly with group experiments and exercise that help people to be in the here and now while also reconnecting with their emotional self.