Fritz Perls's Use of Gestalt Therapy: a Review

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Fritz Perls's Use of Gestalt Therapy: a Review

By | April 2013
Page 1 of 7
Gestalt is a fascinating approach to therapy with many unique techniques, interventions and goals that set it apart from other approaches. "Self-acceptance, knowledge of the environment, responsibility for choices, and the ability to make contact...are important awareness processes and goals, all of which are based on a here-and-now experiencing that is always changing" (Corey, 2009, p. 200). Fritz Perls demonstrates his Gestalt therapy style in Three Approaches to Psychotherapy: A Film Series (1975). Though this film has made a significant impact in the field of psychological education, many simply remember Fritz Perls as a brash and cocky showman. This is unfortunate as he has left very meaningful contributions to the field of psychology.

In the film, Perls approaches his client, Gloria in a more aggressive way than her other therapists, Albert Ellis and Carl Rogers. It does seem to me that he is attacking her at times. From my perspective it seems that he is a paternal figure who is trying to shame her into "being strong" ironically through submission. Perls demonstrates a form of Gestalt therapy that has evolved since then. Yontef (1999) commented on contemporary Gestalt therapy, "this model includes more support and increased kindness and compassion in therapy as compared to the confrontational and dramatic style of Fritz Perls" (as cited in Corey, 2009, p.199) but Perls is entertaining to watch.

There is a lot of latent content hidden behind the body language of therapist and client. As Gloria enters the room and sits, her leg is crossed away from him as if to block herself from him. In this gesture she is sending the message that she feels defensive from the moment she sits down. On the other hand, Gloria engages in a number of flirtatious behaviors as well. She smiles in a flirtatious way, cuts her eyes away from him, she giggles, describes him as distinguished, etc. Gloria squints and often leans her head to the side which seems like it...