Developed by Fritz and Laura Perls in the 1940s, Gestalt Therapy is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on an experiential and humanistic approach instead of an analysis of the unconscious. 

This form of therapy helps clients focus on the present moment and understand what is really happening in their lives in the present rather than what they may think to be happening based on their past experiences. In other words, during the therapy sessions, clients are encouraged to experience past situations rather than simply talking about them. Moreover, this form of therapy stresses the idea that the clients must understand the context of their lives and take responsibility instead of placing blame. 

Gestalt Therapy aims to help clients become aware of how their own negative thought patterns and behaviours are affecting their ability to be self-aware and happy. 

What does Gestalt mean? 

By definition, Gestalt refers to the form or shape of something, suggesting that the whole of that something is greater than the sum of its parts. That being said, gestalt therapy focuses on bringing attention to how clients place meaning and make sense of our life and our experiences. 

Thus, during the Gestalt therapy sessions, the therapist encourages clients not merely to talk about their past experiences and feelings but instead bring them into the room. This way, the emotions and experiences can be experienced through re-enactment and processed in the present moment together with the therapist. 

When is Gestalt therapy used? 

The purpose of Gestalt Therapy is to help clients achieve self-awareness so that they can better understand the problems they are dealing with. This form of psychotherapy can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Low self-esteem
  • Relationship problems
  • Low self-efficacy

Gestalt therapy can also help those who want to achieve greater self-awareness and the ability to enjoy their lives by living in the present moment.

Moreover, Gestalt therapy can also help clients with various physical issues, such as:

  • Migraine headaches
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Back spasms

The benefits of Gestalt therapy

Gestalt therapy has many benefits. Besides helping clients achieve greater self-awareness and the ability to live in the present moment, it can also treat all the conditions mentioned above. 

However, thanks to its unique approach, Gestalt therapy has many other potential benefits, including helping clients with:

  • Improving their communication skills
  • Achieve better tolerance for negative emotions
  • Increase their emotional understanding
  • Gain better awareness of their needs
  • Developing the ability to monitor and regulate their mental states
  • Improving mindfulness 

What to expect during the Gestalt therapy sessions? 

When in session, Gestalt therapists focus on what is happening and finding solutions for problems in the present moment. 

Thus, during the session, you should expect your therapist to encourage you to re-enact a past moment rather than to discuss it. In other words, the therapist will ask you to experience the feelings your past experience makes you feel instead of simply discussing them. 

During the session, you should expect questions like “What is going on at this moment?” or “How does this make you feel in the present moment?”. 

You should also expect therapy techniques like guided fantasy, role-playing, or confrontation, plus any other technique that will help you bring your past experiences and current struggles into the room in the present moment. 

The Gestalt therapist will also analyse your body language such as gestures like tapping your foot, wringing your hands, or making a particular facial expression. Based on your body language, the therapist will encourage you to analyse what is happening in the present moment that is making you feel anxious or nervous and express your emotions through your body language. 

The goal of your Gestalt therapy sessions will be to help you become more aware of yourself and your senses. You’ll also be encouraged by the therapist to take more responsibility for yourself, including accepting the consequences of your behaviour. But, more importantly, the therapist will guide you through the process of learning how to become more aware of your needs and how to satisfy them while also respecting the needs of other people in your life. 

How will Gestalt therapy help you? 

The Gestalt therapy approach aims to help you achieve greater self-awareness. That is why, the therapist will encourage you during your sessions to focus on being more aware of yourself, stay in the present moment, and analyse and process things in the here and now, not in your past experiences. 

The Gestalt therapy can help you remove blocks that you may have created to push painful experiences from your awareness. These blocks can stop the present you from being self-aware and grow. Therefore, Gestalt therapy also aims to remove these blocks by identifying them, appropriately challenging them, and removing them so that you can find healing and personal growth. 

The Gestalt therapy sessions will also help you learn how to own and accept your experiences without blaming others. You’ll learn how to accept and embrace personal responsibility which will also improve your ability to regulate your emotions and mental states. 

The Gestalt therapy approach is based on the idea that self-awareness means healing. During the process of therapy, you will be guided by the therapist to discover the parts of yourself that need healing. As the Gestalt approach will help you uncover and heal these parts, you can become a healthy and whole individual as you’ll have the ability to enjoy the present moment and be happy.