Addressing the effectiveness of Person Centered or Gestalt theory with clients.
What does the article relay about the effectiveness of the approach, for example, is it likely to be effective with all populations for any presenting issue, or is the evidence specific to a certain population and problem
Gestalt therapy is a humanistic, holistic, person-centered form of psychotherapy that is focused on a person’s present life and challenges rather than delving into past experiences. This approach stresses the importance of understanding the context of a person’s life and taking responsibility rather than placing blame.
Gestalt, by definition, refers to the form or shape of something and suggests that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. There is an emphasis on perception in this particular theory of counseling. Gestalt therapy gives attention to how we place meaning and make sense of our world and our experiences.
Gestalt therapy was developed by Fritz Perls, with the help of his wife at the time, Laura Perls, and introduced in the 1940s as an alternative to more traditional psychoanalysis. Both Fritz and Laura were trained in psychoanalysis and gestalt psychology.
Along with others, such as Paul Goodman, they worked together to develop a style of therapy that was humanistic in nature. In other words, the approach focused on the person and the uniqueness of their experience.
There are a number of principle ideas that come into play with gestalt therapy, from perception to self-awareness.
In this client-centered approach to therapy, the gestalt therapist understands that no one can be fully objective and that we are influenced by our environment and our experiences. A therapist trained in gestalt therapy holds space for their clients to share their truth, not imposing their judgment and accepting the truth of their clients’ experiences.
Since therapists are human as well, it is important for gestalt therapists to consider the influence of their own experiences on what is happening in the session.
When in session, gestalt therapists want to learn about the experience of their clients. It is understood that context matters and the therapists use techniques to help the client become more aware of their experiences, their perceptions, and their responses to events in the here and now.
Rather than specifically targeting the past and asking clients to purposefully bring up old experiences, gestalt therapists operate from a place of understanding that as clients become increasingly aware, they will overcome existing roadblocks. There is no forced work or technique, just holding space for client awareness is key in this approach.