What is Gestalt?
In the 1930's Fritz Perls (psychiatrist and trained psychoanalyst) met with his wife, Laura Perls (psychologist, psychotherapist, trained dancer) and other important co-founders like Paul Goodman to create Gestalt Psychotherapy at the famous Esalen Institute (California) in the 1940s and 50s. This approach rose out of a dissatisfaction with the dominant Freudian Analysis and interest in Gestalt Psychology.
As a result, this method incorporates ideas from Eastern philosophy like Zen Buddhism, working with body process, emotions and the relationship between client and therapist. I have included here a few of the different key aspects of my practice.
We all have a past and we all dream about the future, yet we live only in this moment right now. Perhaps something from the past haunts us or feel unresolved, maybe we are constantly worried about what bad thing can happen tomorrow. All of this we experience in the now.
Therefore I don't lead people to talk about a particular event in the past or focus attention on how to attain a goal in the future. I am always asking people how they feel right now, because I believe that it's the choices we make now that will bring more wellness to our everyday living. That is not to say the past or future is irrelevant, but it is only relevant as you experience it in the now.
Martin Buber (1878–1965) influenced Gestalt therapy and brought the relationship as a key part of the healing journey. 'The human heart yearns for contact - above all it yearns for genuine dialogue - to be recognised in our uniqueness, our fullness and our vulnerability' (Hycner and Jacobs, 1996:9)
The idea of being uniquely myself as therapist so that I can to meet the other in their individuality feels very real and opposite to the clinical and medical mental health system. Often we spend time seeing others as objects, projections, making assumptions and judgements of the other. We play roles, professional and otherwise to fit in or conform. Therapy is a special place where you can be fully yourself and accepted for as you are.
'She is invited to act or do something rather than simply talk about it. In that process - the story about the problem becomes a present event' (Kin and Daniels, 2008:198).
Something that is more unique in gestalt compared to other talking therapies is how we bring topics to life beyond just thinking. An experiment can be as simple as taking a pause if you have a tendency to be always moving onto the next thing, or trying to 'I' instead 'you' in a sentence when talking about yourself. Doing something different is potentially a rich learning experience. Experiments are always born out of the present moment with no set protocol. This makes therapy a lively encounter.