What is Gestalt therapy?

Leaf over green water, signifying the contact element of Gestalt therapyGestalt therapy is an holistic, mindfulness-based approach to counselling and psychotherapy, which has had great influence on a vast range of therapy modalities ever since its inception in the 1950’s. It draws on the client’s own inherent capacity for healthy functioning, and offers effective ways for the client to uncover their own strengths and wisdom.

In Gestalt therapy the therapist relates to the client honestly and authentically, accepting the client as they are at this point in their life, while guiding them through processes which resolve current issues and provide tools for resolving future issues. More so than other approaches, Gestalt therapy emphasises the here-and-now and that direct experience is more reliable than intellectual speculation. The focus is on what the client does and how she does what she does.

The objective of Gestalt therapy is to enhance the client’s awareness, toward knowing and accepting themselves as well as the world and the people around them. Awareness also includes for the client to become clear that they are in control of and responsible for their own feelings, choices and behaviour. When we are fully aware, we know what we are doing, how we do it, that there are alternatives, and that we choose to do what we do and be the way we are.

The aim of Gestalt therapy is to enable the client to become more fully and creatively alive and to be free from the blockages and unresolved issues which may decrease optimum satisfaction, fulfilment, and growth.

Gestalt therapy variations

For people who are struggling with an acute, specific life challenge, and feel a need to have the therapist’s exclusive attention to address their issues, individual Gestalt counselling & therapy is usually the preferred option.

As an alternative option, being part of a Gestalt counselling & therapy group can offer invaluable benefits that are not available in an individual therapy setting.

For the purpose of personal exploration, growth and development, however, life coaching based on the principles of Gestalt therapy may be a better description of what is most appropriate – maybe we should call that Gestalt coaching – but really, the scope of Gestalt therapy is already vast, and in spite of the word ‘therapy’ the work is sometimes more of a coaching nature.

For a more comprehensive description of Gestalt therapy, the therapy process, and the different process formats (e.g. individual, group, workshop), please, read this article: “Gestalt Awareness & Dialogue”.