Gestalt Therapy

Gestalt therapy refers to a form of psychotherapy that derives from the Gestalt school of thought. It aims to help people develop greater self-awareness so that they can more confidently reach their full potential and effectively manage any problems as they come to the surface.

On this page, we’ll explore gestalt therapy in more detail, including when it might be sought, the techniques used and how it works.

The history of gestalt therapy

Gestalt therapy was developed in the late 1940s by Fritz Perls and his then-wife, Laura Perls. Working as psychoanalysts at the time, their new approach looked to create an alternative form of therapy. Rather than viewing psychological problems as being rooted in the unconscious, gestalt therapy took a holistic view of the individual.

Instead of simply looking at one aspect of a person, such as their mental well-being, the Perls’ believed that people should be thought of as ‘whole beings’ (i.e. in body, mind, and emotions). They believed that we should look at ourselves through our own eyes to understand better how we operate as individuals. This type of therapy also differs from other methods in that it focuses on the present, rather than going back to a person’s past.

Gestalt therapy was born from the German word, “gestalt,” which can be roughly translated to mean “whole” or “complete.” It falls into the ‘humanistic’ category of counselling approaches. This group of therapies, also including person-centered and solution-focused therapy, aims to help people identify and move beyond any blockages so they can reach their full potential. Ultimately, it is about self-exploration and developing a greater sense of self-awareness. The role of the gestalt therapist is to hold a safe space for clients to go on this journey.

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