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What is Gestalt therapy? What are the three cornerstones of the perspective.

Gestalt therapy is an existential, phenomenological and process-based approach created on the premise that individuals but be understood in the context of heir ongoing relationship with the environment.
- Awareness
- Choice
- Responsibility


What is the initial goal of Gestalt therapy?

The initial goal is for clients to expand there awareness of what they are experiencing in the present.


Relational Gestalt Therapy

- Contemporary Gestalt therapy, stresses dialogue and relationship between client and therapist.
- More support and increased sensitivity and compassion as apposed to the confrontational style of Fritz Perls.
- The focus is on the I/Thou relationship and the emphatic atonement while tapping into the clients wisdom and resources.


How did Fritz Perls differ from Freud?

- Fritz Perls was influenced by Freud, though differed from him in that he took a holistic approach to personality rather than Freud's deterministic and mechanistic approach.
- Perls preferred examining the present situation rather than focusing on repressed intrapsyhic conflicts from early childhood.
- Process rather than content.
- Experiments are designed to increase clients awareness of what they are doing and how they are doing it.


Emotion-focused therapy (EFT)

- Is related to Gestalt therapy. EFT entails the practice of therapy being informed by understanding the role of emotion in psychotherapeutic change.
- Blends the active elements of the person centred approach with the phenomenological awareness experiments of Gestalt therapy.


Gestalt theory is grounded

- In existential philosophy, phonology, and field theory.
- Genuine knowledge is what is immediately evident in the experience of the perceiver.
- The reowning parts of oneself that have been disowned and the unification process proceed step by step until clients can carry on with their on personal growth.
- The process of awareness allows the client to make informed choices and thus to live a more meaningful life.


A basic assumption of Gestalt therapy

Is that individuals have the capacity to self-regulate when they are aware of what is happening in and around them.


The Gestalt theory of change posits

That the more we work at becoming who or what we are not, the more we remain the same.


The paradoxical theory of change

- Authentic change occurs more from being who we are than from trying to be who we are not.
- To be as fully as possible in ones current condition, rather than striving to be what they “should be”.



Those aspects of the individuals experience that are most salient at any moment.



- Those aspects of the clients presentation tat are often out of his awareness.
- Cues to this ground can often be found on the surface through physical gestures, the of voice, demeanour, and other non-verbal content.



- All of nature is seen as a unified and coherent whole, and the whole is different from the sum of its parts.
- No superior aspect of the individual is emphasised.


Field theory

- The organism must be seen in its environment, or in its context as part of the constantly changing field.
- Everything is relational, in flux, interrelated, and in a process.
- Attention is payed to what is occurring at the boundary between the person and his environment.


Figure -Formation Process

- Derived from the study of visual perception.
- Describes how the individuals organises experience for moment to moment.
- The field differentiates:
- Foreground (Figure)
- Background (Ground)
- Tracks how some aspects of the environmental field emerges from the background and becomes the focal point of the individuals attention and interest.
- The dominant needs of the individual at a given moment influence this process.


Organismic Self-Regulation

- The process of figure formation process is intertwined with organismic self-regulation, a process where the equilibrium is disturbed by the emergence of a need, a sensation, or an interest.
- Actions that will restore equilibrium or contribute to growth and change.


Phenomenological enquiry

- Involves paying attention to what is occurring now. To help the client make contact with the present moment.
- Now awareness is promoted by asking what and how questions and not why questions.
- Ideas, assumptions, interpretations concerning the clients experience are suspended.


Unfinished business

- hen figures emerge from the back ground but are not competed and resolved, individuals are left with unfinished business, which can be manifested in unexpressed feelings such as resentment, rage, hatred pain, anxiety, grief, guilt and abandonment.
- Creating unnecessary emotional debris.
- Clutters present centred awareness.
- Not fully present in awareness - though cloud the awareness.
- Can present themselves in the body, so the Gestalt therapist is always checking to see how the patients body feels.



- The stuck point, the time when external support is not available or the customary way of being does not work.
- The therapists task is to accompany the client in experiencing impasse.



- In Gestalt therapy contact is necessary if change is is to occur: Contact is made by seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, and moving.
- Interacting with nature and other people without loosing ones sense of individuality.
- After the contact experience, there is a time of withdrawal, to integrate what has been learned. Two boundaries - to connect and to separate.
- Attention is also payed to interruptions disturbances, and resistance to contact, that prevent us from experiencing contact in a real way.
- Operate mainly our of awareness.


There are five identified contact boundary disturbances;

- Introjection
- Projection
- Retroflection
- Deflection
- Confluence.



The tendency to uncritically accept others beliefs and standards without assimilating them to make them congruent with who we are.



Is the reverse of introjection. In projection we disown certain aspects of ourselves by assigning them to the environment.



Consists of turning back onto ourselves what we would like to do to someone else or doing to ourselves what we would like someone else to do to or for us. Expressions of anger directed towards ourselves for example, or depression and somatic symptoms.



Is the process of distracting or veering off, so that it is difficult to maintain a sustained sense of contact.



Involves blurring the differentiation between the self and the environment. As we strive to get along with everyone there is no clear demarcation between internal and outer reality Involves the absence of conflicts, slowness to anger, and the belief that all parties experience the same feelings and thoughts that we do.


The six methodological components of Gestalt therapy:

- The continuum of experience.
- The here and now
- The paradoxical theory of change
- The experiment
- The authentic encounter
- Process orientated diagnosis.


The main goals of Gestalt therapy

- Are to gain more awareness and therefore be able to make greater choice.
- Gestalt therapy is basically an existential encounter out of which clients tend to move in certain directions


The therapists role

- Is to invite clients into an active partnership where they can learn about themselves by adopting an experimental attitude towards life in which they try out new behaviours and notice what happens.
- The client is the expert.
- Value self-discovery.
- Attention is payed to the body and its expressions.
- Attention is payed to how clients verbally express themselves. Cues, “It" talk, “you" talk, questions, language that denies power, metaphors. Proving rich clues into internal struggles and unfinished business.


There is a three stage integration sequence that characterises Gestalt therapy.

- Discovery: Clients are likely to reach a new realisation about themselves.
- Accommodation: Clients recognise that they have a choice. Clients gain skill at coping with difficult situations. Out of office experiments are conducted.
- Assimilation: Clients learn how to influence their environment. They do more than passively accept the environment. Stands may be taken on critical issues.



Are ready made techniques that re sometimes used to make something happen in a therapy session or to achieve a goal.