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What is Gestalt Therapy?

Gestalt Therapy

Fritz Perls, with his collaborators, developed Gestalt Psychotherapy. He used the term ‘Gestalt’ because many of the underlying principles are based on the German School of Gestalt Psychology.  Gestalt  is, of  course, a  German word, not readily translatable into English. It covers various related concepts like: shape, form, configuration, structural entity etc., a whole that is something more than, or different from, the sum of its parts.

Imagine dense fog, and slowly, gradually, a figure of a person begins to emerge from the misty background. There we have Gestalt: both the figure and its background. Now imagine that the emerging figure represented a need of yours, of which you were gradually becoming aware. Perhaps you are thirsty and need a drink. So a glass of water becomes very ‘figural’ for you, from a background of endless possibilities. Already you are becoming aware of what Gestalt Therapy is about.

Gestalt Therapy is:

1)  firmly rooted in the philosophies of Existentialism and Phenomenology;

2)  holistic; i.e., a person is seen as a whole organism; no separation of mind and body;

3)   a psychodynamic therapy based on humanistic, or third force psychology, meaning not from the European Psychoanalytic Tradition, nor from the American Behaviourist School.

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