What is gestalt therapy?

Gestalt is a German word which translates as ‘the whole’. It is also, in therapy,  a relational approach, that is, working with how people relate to others, their environment and themselves.

Gestalt therapy attempts to integrate the client’s feelings with their actions and perceptions, with the hope that a greater level of self-awareness can help keep the client in the present moment. Personal responses and explorations of events and feelings are encouraged as a means of finding your own authentic voice and understanding yourself.

Founder Fritz Perls believed that only by living in the here and now is the client capable of taking responsibility for his/her actions. How the client represents themself and whether they resist being in the present is something the therapist draws upon, to make the client conscious of not only what is happening and what is being said, but also of body language and repressed feelings. Gestalt therapy often includes acting out scenes and recalling dreams.


Who benefits from gestalt therapy?

Gestalt therapy would suit someone seeking a thorough exploration of their thoughts, feelings, values and behaviours. The focus is very much on the individual's experience in the present moment, on the 'truth' of what is being experienced, rather than interpretation. It is a relatively active form of therapy, with both the client and therapist collaboratively participating in expressive and creative exercises. 

Gestalt therapy is considered a good means of helping a client understand their emotional and physical needs, and how these are connected. Self-development by means of increased self-awareness is a central aim of gestalt therapy, making it beneficial for those who may feel guarded or defensive when it comes to self-expression and emotion.

It has been found to be effective in treating anxiety, addiction, PTSD, depression, and other inhibitive problems such as low self-esteem.

Relevant associations

UKAGP


This information has been vetted by a professional member of the welldoing directory

Last updated on September 13 2015