Consulta de Psicología Tarifa
What is Gestalt therapy?
Gestalt therapy is a psychotherapeutic approach that belongs to humanistic psychology. Gestalt therapy deepens the awareness of what is happening on a mental, emotional, and physical level in the here and now. This allows us to connect with our needs, fears, and old wounds. Therefore, we are not looking into the past, but experiencing the present moment. In Gestalt therapy, we work with exercises, experiments, and various body-oriented methods. The goal is to be able to live our lives freely and independently.
During the therapeutic process, we focus our attention more on experiencing than on “talking about something.” We look at the clear and obvious, which is often not perceived by the client. As a result, we become more aware and discover ourselves anew. In this process, we recognize our programming, beliefs, and blind spots. This means that we often have a picture of ourselves that does not correspond to how we appear to others. The therapist’s task is to accompany the process of “recognition” and facilitate the solution or integration. The therapeutic process promotes our ability to connect with others and find fulfillment. Using the analogy of an onion being peeled, we describe how we get closer to the inner core of our being during the therapy process.
The founder, Fritz Perls, said that Gestalt therapy was too important to be limited to only sick people. In this sense, the therapeutic approach includes a healing aspect that promotes the fading of symptoms and the resolution of problems, and on the other hand, Gestalt therapy is also a technique that promotes growth, personal development, and a healthy attitude and helps us enjoy life.
The word “Gestalt” implicitly means that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Therefore, it leads to a holistic view where we consider the person as a whole organism. Symptoms are not separated and treated individually, but we want to recognize what role these symptoms play in our lives. Many behaviors that we needed as a child to survive are repeated automatically, even though they limit us and are no longer appropriate.
Who does Gestalt therapy help?
Gestalt therapy helps anyone who is seriously willing to work on their self-awareness. The Gestalt therapist helps their client find new ways, without providing ready-made solutions, but working on them individually.
With the therapist’s support, the client understands why they cannot allow their growth potential. Only 5% of our daily actions are conscious, the rest of the time we live in a state of automatic functioning. Dynamics that have to do with fear, pain, shame, or simple impulses like wanting to be seen by others or wanting to please in order to receive love, are some of the many mechanisms that determine our actions. When these mechanisms occur in inappropriate situations, we overvalue them unilaterally. This limits our ability to perceive the current reality undistortedly and to face it.
Roots of Gestalt therapy
Gestalt therapy is a comprehensive therapeutic approach that is very open to new techniques, but places them in coherent relation to each other. An attitude that is anchored in the present moment and places awareness and responsibility for our actions first is important.
Gestalt therapy was developed by Fritz and Lore Perls in the first half of the last century. The name “Gestalt” and some influences, mainly the famous experiments on human perception, come from the German school of Gestalt psychology.
In the therapeutic field, however, the influences of psychoanalysis, especially its dissidents such as Carl Jung and Wilhelm Reich, are much more important. Perls was very interested in Wilhelm Reich’s work, which explored chronic muscular tensions in the body, which he called muscular armoring, and linked them to psychological experiences in childhood. Hence, the importance that Gestalt therapy attaches to the body. Carl Jung’s collective unconscious was also a valuable inspiration.
Another influential person in Fritz Perls’ life was Jakob Levy Moreno, who influenced him with his theatrical, psychodramatic, and expressive techniques.
The German philosopher Salomo Friedlaender introduced Perls to his theory of creative indifference, which provided a new perspective. Unlike the Gestalt psychologists who dealt with the differentiation of perception, Friedlaender captured “the middle ground between the differentiated poles.” He called this middle ground creative indifference. It refers to the larger context from which the opposites first crystallize and then show as polarities (opposites). Later, Perls learned about Zen meditation and was able to further develop this understanding of emptiness, which is simultaneously full of life.
Phenomenology also plays a significant role in Gestalt therapy. Phenomenology assumes that during the process of perception, we directly assign meaning to what is observed. Each person perceives the same situations differently and gives them different interpretations through this subjective perception, which then determines our actions.
In summary, Gestalt therapy is a unique and effective form of therapy that focuses on the wholeness of the human experience, the body, and its relationship to the emotional and mental aspects of a person. Gestalt therapy aims to release chronic muscular tensions in the body and promote awareness and emotional and psychological well-being in the present moment. Additionally, the holistic approach of Gestalt therapy helps people understand their own experiences and find new paths to personal growth. The healthy attitude referred to in Gestalt therapy is an attitude that promotes self-acceptance, authenticity, responsibility, and openness to new experiences. It is an attitude that allows people to face life’s challenges more effectively and satisfactorily. In Gestalt therapy, the aim is to promote this healthy attitude so that clients can take it beyond the therapeutic process and apply it to their daily lives.