• Monday July 13,2020

gestalt therapy

Many people have mental health problems requiring psychotherapeutic help. Gestalt therapy comes into question for clients who want to focus primarily on the present and are ready to take personal responsibility.

What is Gestalt therapy?

Gestalt therapy sees itself as a form of therapy which, in addition to the soul, body and spirit, also includes the socio-cultural and ecological life contexts in the therapy.

Gestalt therapy is one of the holistically integrative and experience-oriented methods of humanistic psychotherapy. It was founded by Fritz Perls, Laura Perls and Paul Goodman and has for the most part evolved from psychoanalysis.

Perls took the view that every human being is responsible for his actions and is also able to use his potential. Gestalt therapy is primarily concerned with emotions and experiences in the present, even if they can relate to the past. The central concern for Gestalt therapeutic work is "Me and you in the here and now". The therapeutic work is to promote psychosocial skills, which serve to live a self-determined life with personal values ​​and related to his environment.

Function, effect & goals

Gestalt therapy has a wide range of uses and is suitable for all ages. It can be done as a single, group, couple or family therapy and helps with various problems:

  • personality disorders
  • neuroses
  • pyschosomatic problems
  • eating disorder
  • drug addiction

It sees itself as a form of therapy which, in addition to the soul, body and spirit, also includes the sociocultural and ecological life contexts in the therapy. She wants to achieve a more human interaction between people and to encourage more environmental awareness. Therefore, it is not only a psychotherapy method, but at the same time philosophy of life and world view. In psychological disorders, Fritz Perls saw the result of contact disorders between people.

All people need social contact and proximity to other people, but some people develop defense mechanisms out of fear of rejection and can not indulge their feelings. In Gestalt therapy, the goal in such a case would be to be able to tolerate living feelings again and to liven them up in therapy in the here and now. While the past is also important and formative, Gestalt psychotherapy, unlike psychoanalysis, does not see its task as rummaging about in the past, because dealing with the past does not necessarily help with problems in the present. She works with 3 principles:

  • Experience
  • perceive
  • Self-sustaining

In order to be able to experience, fellow human beings and the environment must be consciously perceived. People with neurotic problems have fears of engaging in quarrels and contacts because they fear rejection. Their defense mechanisms prevent them from feeling, experiencing and perceiving. In order to become freer internally, it is necessary for them to free themselves from their symptoms and problems, forcing others to act, and instead to take personal responsibility.

In the classical course of a Gestalt Therapy group session, the group members move through the room containing an empty chair ("hot chair"). If you want to work on a topic, sit on this "hot chair". The therapist gives subtle suggestions, the group gives support and feedback, while the person in the "hot seat" allows all emotions and nothing suppresses. In this group experience, the whole range of feelings can be experienced, from esteem and security to being delivered and criticized.

Dreams and fantasies also play a role in Gestalt therapy. They work with creative methods. A single therapy can last from 20 to 200 hours; group therapies are offered in open or closed form.

Risks, side effects & dangers

Gestalt therapy can be an effective form of therapy for a variety of problems, but there is no scientific research that can provide evidence that Gestalt therapy has a positive effect and that it guarantees long-term success.

Working with dramatic techniques makes it less suitable for people who tend to hysterical personality structure, because working with the "hot stool" can only make people feel emotions. This can lead to mental overreaction reactions. It takes experienced therapists who deal responsibly with the group experiences and help the clients to appropriately integrate these experiences into their psychic life. In part, there are inadequately trained therapists who operate in a very confrontational style and thereby frustrate clients even more.

The alternative scene also uses techniques that provoke feelings and voice voices in a "voice-dialogue" to different parts of mental conflicts. These should then come into conversation with each other. For people with social anxiety, the group experience in the hot seat may be counterproductive because they do not dare to let their feelings run wild in the group where they are under constant observation.

In this way, they can close even more. Responsible therapy must always have in mind the individual limits of the group members' shame and should not override personal boundaries. Every person has mental protection mechanisms that have their justification. It is therefore very important that Gestalt therapists have completed a serious training and proceed accordingly cautious and careful, so they do not consolidate defense mechanisms in the client.


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