What is Gestalt Therapy?

Gestalt therapy is a form of psychotherapy that is centred on increasing a person’s awareness, freedom and self-direction. It’s a form of therapy that focuses on the present moment rather than past experiences.

Gestalt therapy is based on the idea that people are influenced by their present environment. Each individual works to achieve personal growth and balance. Gestalt therapy focuses on the use of empathy and unconditional acceptance. This helps individuals get rid of distress by learning how to trust and accept what they feel.

The Concept of Gestalt Therapy

The word ‘gestalt’ is a German word with no direct translation. It generally means ‘whole’ or ‘form’. It is an idea that views every individual as a blend of mind, emotions, body, and soul with unique experiences and reality.

In practice, psychology professionals apply this concept by helping people concentrate on what’s happening in their lives at the present moment rather than focus on their past experiences. Gestalt Therapy puts the focus on the here and now.

What disorders can be treated using Gestalt Therapy?

Through Gestalt Therapy, individuals are able to develop new perspectives and bring positive changes in their lives. They can do this because Gestalt Therapy promotes increased self-awareness and a clear understanding of thoughts, emotions and behaviour.

Since its introduction, Gestalt Therapy has become a proven and effective therapeutic approach in addressing and treating different mental health conditions. Some of these include:

  • Anxiety – Gestalt Therapy helps people focus on the present. This allows individuals to discover what immediate thoughts, feelings or bevaviour may make them feel anxious.
  • Behavioural Health Issues – Geatalt Therapy can help people with behavioural conditions like bipolar disorder. It’s also an effective therapeutic method for treating substance abuse and PTSD. People struggling with these conditions may develop a new view of life through Gestalt Therapy and may see a positive change in their lives.
  • Depression – Since Gestalt Therapy focuses on self-awareness, it can help people with depression become aware of possible stressful situations that trigger that depression.
  • Relationship difficulties – Gestalt Therapy can help couples recognise underlying destructive behaviours that may be negatively impacting their relationship. This can help them work towards making positive changes in their relationship and individual lifestyles.
  • Self-esteem Issues – Gestalt Therapy helps people with low self-esteem identify and overcome underlying factors that contribute to their low self-esteem.

Gestalt Therapy Techniques

The different Gestalt therapy techniques involve a series of experiments and exercises. Exercises and experiments help individuals increase their awareness and understanding of the here and now.

Different techniques of Gestalt therapy work differently for different individuals since everyone’s past experiences are unique. Here are examples of the different Gestalt therapy techniques:

  • Paradoxical Change – The theory of paradoxical change focuses on the need for self acceptance. It helps individuals develop an improved sense of self-awareness. When an individual makes peace with who they are as a person, it helps them live in the present. This results in more positive feelings and mood.
  • ‘Here’ and ‘Now’ – this technique enables individuals to appreciate past experiences and how they influence their present thoughts and behaviour. By being conscious of internal factors that influence their present lives, individual can learn to let go of the past. This helps them focus on the here and now. The objective of this technique is to help them live for the present and make positive change going forward.
  • Empty chair technique – This technique helps individuals to open up and practice talking with an empty chair. The goal of this technique is to visualise yourself opening up to a particular person you needed to talk with. When you open up as if the person was sitting there listening, the therapeutic experience of opening up sets the stage for healing.
  • Exaggeration technique – This technique works by making an individual become aware of underlying issues that could be linked to their present problem. The therapist may request you to exaggerate a specific behaviour or emotion. This helps in identifying and addressing the root problem.

Benefits of Gestalt Therapy

Gestalt therapy is a comprehensive therapeutic method that gives long-lasting benefits to an individual’s mind, emotions, body, and spirit. Common benefits of Gestalt therapy include but are not limited to:

  • Increased self-awareness
  • Improved confidence
  • Ability to make peace with the past, and improved sense of acceptance.
  • Increased ability to deal and cope with stressful situations.
  • Being more responsible, improved ability to own up to mistakes and behaviours without placing blame.



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