Gestalt Therapy

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Gestalt Therapy

Gestalt therapy was largely developed by Fritz Perls and his wife, Laura. Together they created a theory that is based on the premise that individuals must be understood in the context of their ongoing relationship with the environment. To better understand that, one must review the key concepts, therapeutic process, and the techniques of application.

The first key concept of Gestalt therapy is its view of human nature. Perls believed that genuine knowledge is the product of what is immediately evident in the experience of the perceiver. He believed that individuals have the capacity to self regulate in their environment if they are fully aware of what is happening in and around them.

There are several basic principles that underlie the practice of Gestalt therapy. Holism, one of the principles, is the interest in the whole person. The therapist will attend not only to the client's thoughts, feelings, and dreams. The field theory suggests that the client be seen in its environment and the figure formation process is how the individual organizes the environment from moment to moment. Last is the organismic self, which is a process by which equilibrium is disturbed by the emergence of a need.

The next key concept is the focus of "the now" in Gestalt therapy. The present is seen as the most significant tense. To help the client stay in the here and now, therapist often ask "what" and "how" questions but rarely "why". A Gestalt therapist's aim is to help clients make contact with their emotions. For example, if a client begins to talk about sadness, the therapist will do what they can to have the client actually experience that sadness in the "now".

Another key concept is that of unfinished business. When figures emerge from the background but are not completed and resolved, individuals are left with unfinished business. This can manifest in unexpressed feelings such as resentment, anger, frustration, rage, pain, anxiety, and grief....
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