The Gestalt Therapy: Definition and Application

In Gestalt’s therapy, counselors assume that clients are capable of changing for the better if they are made to understand well what occurs within their environments (Ferguson, 2007). Gestalt’s approach emphasizes on the client’s self awareness for them to change for the better (Shedler, 2008). The theory’s perception of personality has been influenced mostly by existential philosophy. The Gestalt’s therapy brings out in the open the element of self understanding and integrates all of the client’s way of being whole (Shedler, 2008). Clients can only be able to make selective choices when their level of self consciousness is raised. Goals of Gestalt’s therapy include, therapists enabling clients assume responsibility of their personal experiences, providing clients necessary skills for the development and satisfaction of wants without interfering with the rights of others, enhancing client’s self awareness, making clients to learn how to admit responsibility, and making them self dependent (Shedler, 2008)

Gestalt’s Therapeutic Process

The therapeutic techniques in Gestalt’s approach are secondary to the establishment of true relationships that allow therapists to challenge clients. According to Freeman (2005), the aim of the therapist is to: discern the meaning of the past, present and the future; accept the freedom and responsibility to act; move toward personal authenticity and become aware of how and when one is deceiving oneself; and release a victims role for a freer sense of existence. Therapists in this approach apply techniques such as; paradoxical intention to encourage clients to show or desire they fear, and dereflection which diverts clients away from problems towards something meaningful (Freeman, 2005).

Gestalt’s approach therapists assist clients discern the meaning of past and current experiences so as to help them discover new understandings and options. Shedler (2008) describes the key role of the therapist as one that assists clients discovers their restricted experiences which hinder therapeutic process. In essence, the therapists aid clients in moving toward accepting their personal responsibility for future changes. Gestalt’s therapists proceed with therapy by watching and listening to clients as they narrate what it is like in their situation during a therapy session (Ferguson, 2007). The therapist does the assessment, diagnoses and identification through dialogic ways. In their dialogues with clients, therapist’s goal is to assist the client in identifying an experience that heightens their awareness of that experience (Ferguson, 2006).

Applications of Gestalt Therapy

Major Techniques and Areas the Theory is most Applicable

The major technique employed in gestalt approach is allowing the therapist to work with client to identify salient aspects of individual fields as they emerge from the background. The technique assumes the client is assumed to be capable of self regulation. The technique allows therapists to identify the most pressing issues, needs and interests and design experiments that explore resistances to awareness. This approach is based applied in learning processes where teachers work with students to explore and identify salient aspects of their learning abilities (Weisler, 2006).

Gestalt theory is a good theory as it has contributed immensely in learning and teaching processes. Other contributions include: allowing clients to make selective choices when they become fully aware without interference; letting individuals assume ownership of their experiences; provides clients necessary skills for development for fulfillment of needs without violating other people’s rights; contributes in the development of heightened awareness of individuals’ senses; allows learning to admit responsibility for individual actions; and gets individuals away from reliance on external supports to depend on internal supports (Steger, 2005).

Gestalt’s theory does not recognize the important role of therapist as a teacher. It puts emphasis on facilitating the client’s own process of self discovery and teach (Jordan, 2008). Secondly, Gestalt practices places significance on the interaction and dialogue between therapists and clients (Shedler, 2008). This approach can only be functional if therapists have a high level of personal development. This is too demanding for the therapist, since he is supposed to aware of his own needs and ensuring that they do not interfere with the clients process (Shedler, 2008).

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