Approaches to Psychotherapy
Gestalt therapy is a phenomenological, experiential and client-centred approach to psychotherapy. The aim is to make the person become aware of the present moment experience. Based on the “here and now” approach, the client tries to find the solutions to existing problems. Gestalt therapists also encourage clients to get in contact with their ignored parts of the self and achieve wholeness.
Gestalt therapists want the clients to answer these main questions:
“What and how” am I experiencing this situation “here and now”?
Gestalt therapists generally ignore “Why” questions as they are limiting the contact with the now. When answering these questions, it is important to consider taking a holistic approach. This means that the client should focus on the body, the language, thoughts and feelings as a whole.
The awareness of the present moment includes the individual thoughts, feelings, the environment, other people’s states and accepting oneself. Awareness creates subjectivity and creates more choices, according to Gestalt therapists. Gestalt therapy supports direct experiencing, rather than imagination and abstract thinking. That is why therapists use experiments commonly in this approach.
During therapy sessions, the clients may talk about their feelings as if they are not the ones experiencing them. To avoid this detachment from the self and the cognitions, clients are encouraged to investigate what is and actually going on in the present moment. The therapist also persuades the client to feel the emotions rather than just talking about them.
Unfinished Business in Gestalt Therapy
When a past situation regularly comes up in therapy sessions, that might show some signs of unresolved feelings. Gestalt therapists call this “unfinished business”. In sessions, these past experiences should be brought to the present and should be worked on to acknowledge.
Another equally important goal in Gestalt therapy is to discover resistances. Resistances are defence mechanisms that prevent the client to fully experience the present. They can also be maladaptive because people generally construct these resistances under difficult circumstances. When they are maladaptive, Gestalt therapists describe them as contact boundary phenomena. They include introjection, projection, retroflection, deflection and confluence.
Read this book on theories and applications of counselling to learn more about this subject, and also other approaches of psychotherapy:
Read other mental health and psychology posts:
- How to Cope with Stress
- Irrational Beliefs and Cognitive Distortions
- Miracle Question Technique in SFBT
References and More Readings on Gestalt Therapy
- American Psychological Association: Gestalt Therapy with Gordon Wheeler, PhD.
- Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy – Gerald Corey
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- 8 Books that Changed My Life
- 20 Mistakes I Made in College
- 15 Things Every First-Time Parent Should Know
- My Minimalistic Morning Routine
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