The research is to find out where the therapy originated, including the name of the person who first introduced the therapy and a brief history if possible. Provide a short summary of any clinical research or scientific evidence that supports the validity of the therapy. List of conditions the therapy is best suited to treating. A summary of how the therapy works to assist the client. Contras or dangers associated with using the therapy. A bibliography listing the resources used to find the information, including websites and publications.
Gestalt originated in Germany when 4 German Psychologists Max Wertheimer, Wolfgang Kohler, Kurt Koffka and Fritz Salomon Perls from the school of Psychology created by looking at a person’s GESTALTS “Productive Thinking” in the early part of the 19th Century and it was refined by many others in the following years as they left Germany and ventured out to Finland, South Africa and USA, in the 1940s Fritz Perls and others looking at the persons gestalts; An organised whole that is seen as more than the sum of its parts, further refined it for their own purposes, giving retreats teaching others and generally popularising this therapy.
Gestalt therapy is a client-centered approach to psychotherapy that helps clients focus on the present and understand what is really happening in their lives right now, rather than what they may perceive to be happening based on past experience. Instead of simply talking about past situations, clients are encouraged to experience them, perhaps through re-enactment. Through the gestalt process, clients learn to become more aware of how their own negative thought patterns and behaviors are blocking true self-awareness and making them unhappy.
Gestalt Therapy is an evidence-based therapy but more research has been done and looks like it will continue. Gestalt therapy can help clients with issues such as anxiety, depression, self-esteem, relationship difficulties, and even physical ones like migraine headaches, ulcerative colitis, and back spasms. Good candidates for gestalt therapy are those who are interested in working on their self-awareness but may or may not understand the role they play in their own unhappiness and discomfort. Gestalt techniques are often used in combination with bodywork, dance, art, drama, and other therapies.
Role-playing is a common practice in this type of therapy, as it is a more active means of bringing the past into the present. Role-playing certain scenes or past experiences of a patient, and then discussing how that behaviour/memory affects their emotions in the present, can provide great insight into what progress has been made, and where someone’s emotional state currently stands. Two of the other classic techniques of gestalt therapy are the empty chair technique and the exaggeration technique. Let us look into the details of these two techniques.
Empty chair technique
In the empty chair technique, a patient is sat across from an empty chair and directed to hold a conversation or air a grievance with someone else, whether that is their boss, partner, friend, colleague etc. By stimulating a real-time conversation, it is easier to observe the emotions, thoughts and behaviors of a person struggling with an inner conflict. In some cases, the patient will even assume the other role, of the person whom they wish to speak with. This leads to a more holistic view of a situation, helping patients see the whole story from multiple angles, and recognize their role (or even fault) in it.
The exaggeration technique focuses on observations made by either the patient or therapist when a subject is being discussed. If a physical trait—such as bouncing one’s leg, touching one’s face, or avoiding eye contact—is noticed, the therapist will encourage the patient to exaggerate that behavior, increasing its place in the patient’s self-awareness. This practice will help patients identify emotions attached to some of those behaviors, either physical or verbal, so they can better know themselves in the future, and have a better grasp of their mental state in the present.
These are just some of the most basic exercises or techniques in gestalt therapy, but their underlying goals reflect the larger intentions of this overall therapy approach. It works to boost self-awareness by engaging and affecting the patient, rather than pitching the therapy office as a detached and completely impartial space. Practitioners of gestalt therapy don’t believe that human nature doesn’t allow for such an untouched or safe space, and argue that the facade of a non-biased therapist must be torn away for honesty and self- awareness to be achieved.
An interesting read for Gestalt Therapy:
* There is empirical research to support Gestalt Therapy and its techniques (Corsini & Wedding, 2000).
* Specifically, Gestalt Therapy is equal to or greater than other therapies in treating various disorders, Gestalt
* Therapy has a beneficial impact with personality disorders, and the effects of therapy are stable.
* Works with the past by making it relevant to the present (Corey, 2005).
* Versatile and flexible in its approach to therapy. It has many techniques and may be applied to different therapeutic issues.
* For Gestalt Therapy to be effective, the therapist must have a high level of personal developmen.
* Effectiveness of the confronting and theatrical techniques of Gestalt Therapy is limited and has not been well established.
*It has been considered to be a self-centred approach, which is concerned with just individual development.
* Potential danger for therapists to abuse the power they have with clients
* Lacks a strong theoretical base.
* Deals only with the here and now.
* Does not deal with diagnosis and testing.
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