‘Gestalt’ is German and means ‘form/shape’ and posits that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Gestalt therapy prioritises perception and self-awareness and draws attention to how people place meaning on things and make sense of their world, and experiences. There is a keen focus on the present, in therapy, and therefore in life.
As clients become increasingly aware, they can identify and challenge their blocks for healing and growth. Personal responsibility is key in Gestalt, which teaches us to own and accept our experiences rather than blame others. Because when we blame others, we cast ourselves in the role of the ‘done to’ the passive victim. This diminishes our control and autonomy. So, Gestalt therapy challenges these ways, as well as the meanings we may have ascribed about experiences, toward greater control. Thus we learn to regulate our emotions and experiences in the world.
Occasions during therapy may arise where clients are faced with an empty chair, this is known in Gestalt as the “Empty Chair Technique”. When facing an empty chair, you will be asked to visualise the individual that you are having difficulties with, after this you proceed to speak to the chair as if the individual you visualise is sitting in the empty chair.
This powerful technique or role play helps explore the dynamics and emotions in relationships which have been strained historically, to the present day.
Gestalt therapists account for individual’s subjectivity, that is, we are all influenced by our contexts, our surroundings, and what we’ve experienced in life.
Our therapists will attempt to ‘hold space’ so you can share your truth and accept your experience, without them imposing judgment. We are skilled at monitoring how experiences might influence what is occurring in the room with you, and we will want to know about how your experiences are for you, to help you become more conscious of your perceptions and responses in the here and now. This present focus aims to instil deeper self-awareness and understanding, which can help you to overcome existing obstacles.
Gestalt does not attempt to force any kind of technique, rather it is about the kind of space our therapists create. This climate is one of rapport, trust, and safety. If you spend too much time in the past or future you will be guided to bring your attention back into the room, to the present. This is sometimes done by asking you about your facial expression, or your body language which can help you process what is happening for you in the present as you recount a memory or event.
Our therapists are trained to pay attention to repressed and suppressed pain and will guide you along when they see it show itself so that you can process it with their support, toward healing. This is done not just by talking about and around your experiences and feelings, but by being guided to bring them into the session so you can process them in the present with the therapist beside you.
We also utilise experiential work in Gestalt, this might be role play (like chair work), guided imagery, or the use of props to aid communication and understanding. These aim to help you open and share, especially if you are more visual and cannot find the words to express yourself. These exercises also help increase self-awareness which Perls said is in itself healing. We recommended weekly (50 minute) sessions that take place at the same time and day each week.
We offer Gestalt therapy in Birmingham. Phinity Therapy also serve other cities and countries through our network of qualified therapists. Online therapy is also available, catering for those who cannot reach our clinic or have busy schedules.
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