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Who Was Fritz Perls Pt 2

Who Was Fritz Perls Pt 2

It was also at this time in Frankfurt, that he attended lectures in Gestalt Psychology. (Gestalt Psychology is totally separate from Gestalt Therapy, and is mainly concerned with ‘perception’.) Here he met his wife, Laura, a young psychology graduate, who became a co-founder of Gestalt Psychotherapy.

Perls became profoundly influenced by the Gestalt Psychologists and integrated their theories into his practice as a psycho-analyst, for example:

The Principle of Closure/The Urge to Complete:

The Gestalt Psychologists had proved through empirical research, that an individual organises everything he or she perceives into  meaningful wholes. If anything is incomplete then an individual will probably see the whole anyway or guess at it.

In a similar way, experiments were then carried out to also show that people remember  unfinished tasks better than finished ones. These fester away in the back of our minds, so we tend to suffer from nagging niggles about things we need to do or finish off. We can truly put something out of our minds when we have completed the task and felt the subsequent satisfaction.

Now  here  is  the  leap  from  psychological principle to therapeutic practice: just as we tend to make meaningful wholes of our experience, what we actually see, hear, feel, etc., so, we also try to complete any emotional situations, which remain unresolved or  unfinished  from  the  past.  Perls called these situations “unfinished business”, a term which has become part of  everyday  conversation. He  developed simple, but powerful techniques to help people bring to the surface any unfinished situations from the past and resolve them in the present, e.g., ‘Empty Chair’ or ‘Two Chair Work’.

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