THE LONDON PRACTICE
Psychotherapy and Coaching
WHAT IS GESTALT THERAPY?
Fritz and Lore Perls, born around 1900, founded Gestalt Therapy and brought it to the United States from Germany and South Africa in the late 1940’s. A psychiatrist and a psychologist by profession, they had studied psychoanalysis, zen, gestalt psychology, existentialism, phenomenology, field theory, sensory awareness and much more.
They chose the word Gestalt, which means “figure” or “whole form” to name their new therapy, attending to the whole human being, including the physical, emotional, mental and intuitive or spiritual aspects.
Unlike other approaches in those early days, the focus was not on illness and dysfunction, but rather on growth and excitement in human development. The Gestalt therapist invites the client to focus on how he stops himself from being more alive, more contactful with themselves and others, more expansive, and more creative. In other words the focus is on how we are actively being stuck or fixed, with the assumption that, once the right conditions are created, the human being will naturally grow towards health and flexibility again.
The main goal is to invite clients to become more aware, particularly in the moment. Many practices are taught, and when clients “get stuck” or reach an impasse, the therapeutic works helps them, through awareness, experience this more clearly. Working through issues, unfinished business, beliefs and attitudes is a process of discovery between the client, the therapist, and in a group setting the other participants. Experiential rather intellectual understanding is key.
Adapted from "Gestalt as a Way of Life" by Cyndy Sheldon