If you’ve reached this article, it might mean that lately, you’ve been contemplating the idea of going to therapy. Maybe you try to imagine what it would be like and you feel intimidated. “How am I supposed to talk about these things with a person I barely know?”
At the same time, there are so many different forms of psychotherapy, and it’s hard to decide which one would work best for you. Here, we will try to give you some insight into the principles of Gestalt therapy and what to expect from a session on the phone.
Most people are more familiar with forms of therapy that focus heavily on childhood experiences and the client’s relationship with their parents. While exploring your past can be a powerful way to gain a deeper understanding of yourself, Gestalt therapy is based mostly on the “here and now”.
What is Gestalt therapy?
Gestalt therapy was developed in the 1940s by psychiatrist Fritz Perls and his wife, psychologist Laura Perls. They were both trained in psychoanalysis, a form of therapy more consistent with the scenario we mentioned in the introduction. They believed that to truly understand a person, you need to look at them through their own eyes, as a whole entity. Rather than trying to understand them through just a part of their lives – their childhood – we should get to know them as they are in the present.
The name “Gestalt” actually means whole, referring to the idea that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and Gestalt therapy is defined a holistic, humanistic and client-centred form of psychotherapy.
What should I expect from Gestalt therapy?
During a session with a Gestalt therapist, they’ll encourage you to bring everything, including memories from your past, in the present moment. Their goal is to help you understand how you experience those memories and emotions as the person you are now. You can expect questions like “how do you feel about it now?” so that you process your experiences in the current setting, rather than just talk about them.
Your therapist will also encourage you to connect with current needs through physical sensations. As the sessions progress, you will learn how to identify your emotions through these physical sensations so you can better understand how various aspects of your life affect you emotionally and why.
Can Gestalt therapy be done over the phone?
Interest in phone therapy has increased tremendously in recent years. More and more people are opening up to the benefits of psychotherapy, but they don’t all have the time or the means to visit a therapist’s office every week. Most forms of therapy, including Gestalt therapy, can be done effectively over the phone as long as the therapist has received the appropriate training.
Similarly to a face-to-face Gestalt therapy session, your therapist will use techniques such as guided fantasy, role-playing, emotion localisation and language exercises to help you process your emotions.
Emotion localisation means that when you talk about your emotions, you will be asked to locate where on the body you feel that emotion. For instance, anxiety can be associated with a peculiar sensation in the stomach or chest.
During role-play, you will be encouraged to carry a dialogue with different parts of yourself, so you can connect them and process your experiences as a whole.