Gestalt therapy is a client-centered psychotherapy approach that assists the client to focus on their personal life in the present time. It helps them to get rid of perceptions that are developed based on events in the past.
Gestalt means “whole” and was introduced by Fritz Perls. It works on the principle that a human is a whole entity composed of parts like body, mind, and soul. It makes use of psychological practices and physical exercises to let the client view the past as a self-critic without going back into the past. It involves the practice of bringing the past into the present. The therapy focuses on seeing the issues in the past and resolving them mindfully.
Instead of leaving the past and expecting the future, gestalt therapy clients are invigorated through mimeographs. They are induced to talk about the bitter events of the past to help them realize that from where they need healing. The client learns how unfavorable events of the past influence their thought pattern and make them depressed by blocking their ability to explore the positive things in their life.
When it is used?
Gestalt therapy is used for the treatment of psychological issues like anxiety, stress, low self-esteem, a difficult relationship, and physical issues like migraine, muscular spasm, and ulcerative colitis. Gestalt therapy works best for the candidates who are interested to work for themselves to relieve them of their depression and stress. Besides using psychotherapy techniques, it also makes use of physical activities like dance and exercise.
The following are some of the potential benefits of using gestalt therapy.
- Inducing self-awareness
- Evoke the ability to live at the moment.
- Better control of self.
- Better management of stress.
- Enhanced tolerance for negativity.
- Better communication ability.
- Better insight.
How it works
The working of gestalt therapy involves the alleviation of anxiety, stress, and negative emotions by not just recalling these feelings, but by expressing these feelings of the past in the present to face them and fight them. If emotions are not expressed they can result in not only psychological but also physical problems. This therapy helps the people to be aware of their importance and let them know that they are living life for once and they are supposed to live it for themselves and not for others. Similarly, it makes people realize that they should not expect from others as everyone is free to live for oneself.
In gestalt therapy, therapists induce self-confidence and help the people aware of themselves to let them understand how their personal choices affect them physically and mentally and how it affects their health and relationships.
It helps the clients to build self-confidence on the grounds of knowledge about themselves. This is how they can deal with them more effectively and more mindfully.
Techniques and exercises
Gestalt therapy works on the principle of self-awareness which is in itself a therapy. The following are some practices that therapists use in gestalt therapy.
- 1. Words and emotions
Words describe the events and gestures and body language tells the emotions attached to it. This technique arouses self-acceptance by letting people be courageous enough to hold their self-responsible rather than blaming others. It helps people to get themselves responsible for the events. It makes use of the ‘’I’’ statements.
- 2. Empty Chair
This is a role-playing technique in which a client is made to sit in front of an empty chair and converse thinking that someone is sitting on the empty chair who is listening to them. They are made to indulge in conversation with another part of themselves or some other person considered to be sitting on the chair. This makes clients aware of their emotions from another perspective and helps them to manage their emotions more mindfully.
- 3. Top dog and underdog
This is also a role-playing exercise in which an individual is made to think of owning two different personalities. One is top-dog, which is a demanding and leading image of personality and the other side is the obedient one. These two approaches let the clients aware of the conflicts in their personalities and help them to manage and harmonize the conflicts.
- 4. Body Language
In this technique, the therapist observes the body language of the client while living past emotions. How they change their facial expressions, their hand movements, tapping of the foot, sitting style, and the tone of their voice. The therapist may ask the client to convey their point of view through their body language, by giving it a voice.
- 5. Exaggeration
The therapist may ask the clients to exaggerate their body language, in case they fail to give their body language a voice. Clients are supposed to exaggerate the body movement and to repeat the movements several times. This helps the therapist to draw emotions and movements out of the clients to let them disconnect their emotional events from their physical life.
- 6. Locating Emotion
Almost all of the psychotherapy sessions involve discussing the emotions. What differentiates those sessions from gestalt therapy is that the latter one made the clients experience emotions and let them locate where they feel that emotion. Whether they feel unrest in the stomach, tightness on the chest, or some stress in mind. This helps the clients to be aware of the relation between body and emotions.
- 7. Creative Arts
Doing creative art practices like drawing and sculpting helps people stay in the present and think positively. Any activity other than just sitting and talking about the issue can do more wonders when it comes to making clients aware of themselves and this is the principle behind this technique.
How does it help?
Gestalt therapy helps clients in the following ways
- It helps the people shun away from negative emotions and thoughts that are linked to the bitter events in the past.
- Instead of changing the clients, its focus on making the clients more aware of themselves for the regulation of their self.
- It makes the clients more confident and helps them into them as a responsible person. It makes them realize their responsibility and their role in society.
- It helps the clients to survive them through tough situations by making them aware of their capabilities.