Gestalt therapy is a psychotherapy approach developed by Fritz Perls, Laura Perls and Paul Goodman in the 1940s and 1950s. Since then, Gestalt therapy has been developing and evolving to meet the challenges of constantly changing social, economic, political, cultural, and other contexts of modern society. Over this time Gestalt therapy has incorporated various therapeutic techniques to enrich its means in facilitating human growth, including art-therapy techniques, psychodrama, cognitive-behavioral methods, body-oriented practices and neuroscience concepts. Whilst expanding the range of its techniques, Gestalt therapy holds to its fundamental concepts, like personal responsibility, creative and adaptive resourcefulness of human being, value of current moment over past experiences or fantasies about future, horizontal relationship between the therapist and the client, promoting “I-Though” dialogue. Gestalt therapy values and takes into account all aspects of human potential, needs, experience and existence: social, cognitive, bodily, spiritual, emotional and environmental. It is a holistic, flexible, creative and experiential way of working with clients.
Gestalt therapy is an existential and experiential approach, which emphasizes personal responsibility and choice, and equally, recognises inevitable and deep interconnection and interdependence of all the contexts of human existence.
Gestalt therapist aims at exploring how a client lives and relates in the world. The therapy works through the lived therapeutic encounter, building a “I-Thou” dialogue in ‘here-and-now’, helping the client to expand her/his awareness and see a potential for choice. Awareness and meaning are developed through the therapy, helping to overcome traumatic experiences, and outdated patterns of behavior and reactions.
‘Gestalt’ is a German word meaning both ‘the whole’ (as being more than the sum of its parts) and ‘the pattern’. The gestalt approach draws on both of these meanings, recognising humans as inextricably connected to their social, political and ecological environments, both affecting and being affected by these contexts. Having solid theoretical grounds, including philosophical, psychological, biological, also neuro-psychological concepts, Gestalt therapy remains highly practical, creative and client-oriented psychotherapy approach.
Gestalt therapy presents a long-established method of awareness practice (similar to ‘mindfulness’ in other approaches). It aims to support people in becoming more fully and creatively alive. Gestalt therapists work on both, a short and long term basis, with individuals (including children and adolescents), couples, families, groups, and organisations.