Do you want to focus on self-awareness and personal growth? Then Gestalt therapy can help you heal, focus on the present, reduce stress and anxiety and make better life decisions.
What is Gestalt therapy?
Gestalt therapy (GT) is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on our experience in the present moment and personal responsibility. GT was developed by psychotherapists Fritz Perls, Laura Perls and author Paul Goodman during the 1940s. It emphasizes the social and environmental contexts of our lives, the adjustments we make in our lives due to certain situations and the relationship we share with our therapist.
Gestalt techniques enable us to understand problems and focus on how they can affect us, instead of getting anxious or worried about why it happened. It encourages us to live in the present by making us more aware and encouraging personal growth.
Licensed professional counselor Jodi Clarke, LPC/MHSP explains “Gestalt therapy is a humanistic, holistic, person-centered form of psychotherapy that is focused on an individual’s present life and challenges rather than delving into past experiences.” The focus here is mainly on taking responsibility on ourselves rather than blaming someone or something else. In this approach to mental wellness, we are encouraged to resolve past conflicts by becoming more present. The objective is to become more self-aware.
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“Gestalt Therapy centers around the present. Participants learn to tune into their inner selves, release the past, and engage with the present. Instead of worrying about the past or the future, GT focuses on the here and now,” explains an article medically reviewed by licensed professional counselor Whitney White, MS. CMHC, NCC., LPC.
Understanding Gestalt therapy
Jodi Clarke writes “Gestalt, by definition, refers to the form or shape of something and suggests that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” In this specific theory of counselling, perception matters a lot. It gives extensive focus on how we put meaning behind our experiences, make sense of the world we live in and place meaning behind it all.
According to Good Therapy, “At the core of gestalt therapy is the holistic view that people are intricately linked to and influenced by their environments and that all people strive toward growth and balance.” This psychotherapy technique is based on the belief that we cannot understand ourselves fully unless we understand our circumstances. Context influences experience. GT recognizes that none of us have the ability to be purely objective and compelling someone to change can lead to further fragmentation and distress.
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“Change results from acceptance of what is,” adds Good Therapy. This is why it focuses on helping people learn how to be more self-aware and accept their experiences and feelings to alleviate stress, anxiety and suffering.
How Gestalt therapy can help
GT can prove to be highly helpful in helping people treat and cope with various conditions, like:
- Low self-efficacy
- Low self-esteem
- Relationship problems
It can also prove to be useful to help us gain more self-awareness, enable us to live in the present moment and successfully pursue self development. According to Psychology Today, Gestalt therapy can also help in treating physical conditions like back spasms, ulcerative colitis and migraine headaches. It adds “Good candidates for gestalt therapy are those who are interested in working on their self-awareness but may or may not understand the role they play in their own unhappiness and discomfort.”
Apart from these, GT may also help us with the following:
- Enhanced mindfulness
- Better sense of self-control
- Improved awareness of self-needs
- Enhanced communication skills
- Higher tolerance towards negative emotions
- Improved emotional understanding
- Increased abilities to observe and control mental states
Gestalt therapy techniques for personal growth
Gestalt therapy involves a number of original and dynamic psychotherapy techniques that empower us to overcome resistance by being more aware of our world and ourselves to facilitate self growth.
Let’s take a look at some of the most effective GT techniques.
1. Pending issues
Experiences and emotional wounds from the past can affect and hamper our present. This can be especially damaging when these issues are unmanaged or blocked personal emotions, knots and feelings that prevent us from living our best life now. “According to Gestalt, we all have outstanding issues with friends, relatives, ex’s, and loved ones who have passed away,” explains Exploring Your Mind.