'The important thing is not what others made of me,
but what I make of what they made of me' Sartre
Gestalt Psychotherapy Bristol
Otto Dix (1891-1969),'Fritz Perls'
Gestalt is a German word, translated as 'shape, form or figure'. The verb 'gestalten' means 'to give shape or significant structure to'. The result, the Gestalt, is a complete shape or figure, which has structure and meaning, and is more than just the sum of its parts.
Gestalt therapy was developed by Fritz Perls, Laura Perls and Paul Goodman in the 1940s and 1950s.
Gestalt originates in the existential-humanistic tradition in psychology.
Gestalt practice is an encounter with other person, 'a way of being and doing', rather than algorithm for a therapy situation. The dialogue between therapist and client is in the centre of healing process. The Gestalt practitioner and client are partners, within an authentic dual relationship. The aim is for the client to discover, explore and experience who they are and what they potentially can become. The therapist accompanies the client on the road that the client chooses to explore.
The therapeutic encounter is not only verbal. Gestalt integrates and combines non-verbal methods also, such as sensory awareness, breathing, body or voice, dream work, psychodrama and creativity (i.e. drawing). The individual works at the rate and level that suits him/her, according to what emerges in the present moment.
Gestalt develops a unifying vision of the human being, which integrates senses, feelings, thoughts, social relationships and spirituality. This paves the way towards a holistic experience, where the body can 'speak' and words can be 'seen and felt'. The emphasis is on becoming aware of what is happening 'here and now' (present experience may of course include feelings about a past event). Or, as Fritz Perls liked to put it, 'now and how'. It is not just a matter of 'knowing why': Gestalt adds 'feeling how', 'experiencing how', which motivates change.In Gestalt therapy a person is seen as capable, through self-awareness, of choice and therefore responsible for it. Each person is believed to posses the resources to live effectively and happily. The aim of therapy is for client to discover and experience what he or she is and who he or she may become.