Gestalt therapy is a form of psychotherapy, based on the experiential ideal of "here and now", and relationships with others and the world. Drawing on the ideas of humanistic psychology, the school of Gestalt therapy was co-founded by Fritz Perls, Laura Perls and Paul Goodman in the 1940s-1950s. It is related to but not identical to Gestalt psychology and the Gestalt psychology-based Gestalt Theoretical Psychotherapy of Hans-Juergen Walter.

General description

Based initially on the insights of Gestalt psychology and traditional psychotherapy, Gestalt therapy has developed as a psycho-therapeutic model, with a developed theory that combines phenomenological, existential, dialogical, and field approaches to the process of transformation and growth, of human beings.

At the centre of Gestalt therapy lies the promotion of "awareness". The individual is encouraged to become aware of his own feelings and behaviours, and the patient's effect upon his environment. The way in which a patient interrupts or seeks to avoid contact with his environment is considered to be a substantive factor when recovering from psychological disturbances. By focusing on the patient's awareness of themselves as part of reality, new insights can be made into the patient's behaviour, and the patient can engage in self-healing.

Perls takes approaches from diverse psychological and philosophical disciplines, and integrates them into a therapeutic practice based on the conception of a total organism (i.e.mind and body as an integrated whole). The objective of this therapy is, to help the person to obtain a greater independence (seen as freedom and responsibility) in their actions, and the ability to face up to the blockages that prevent them developing naturally.

Principal influences

  1. Wilhelm Reich's psychoanalytic developments, especially the concept of coraza caractereológica and its focus on the body.
  2. Jacob Moreno's Psychodrama, principally the development of body experimentation techniques for the resolution of psychological conflicts
  3. Max Wertheimer's Gestalt Psychology , which this therapy derives its name from, influences the application of the concepts about perception to a broader theory about the necessities of humans, and the relation of humans with their surroundings.
  4. Carl Gustav Jung's psychology, particularly the polarities concept
  5. Some elements from existentialism and Zen Buddhism

Conceptualizing human beings

Although gestalt therapy is fundamentally based on personal experiencing and the majority of therapist have denied theoretical development (anti-intellectual orientation), of their expositions for a number of years; the number of these expositions are sufficient to contextualize their practises.

The human being seen as a whole

To be human means not being totally disolvable. We can not work while asserting our humanity without considering our body. In addition, there is a correspondance to both.(for example, emotional states are correlated with specific corporal positions).

The tendency towards Self-actualization, therefore, consists of progressing conscientiously and gradually towards the totality of each unique individual within context of the totality where he or she belongs.

Moral injunctions of Gestalt therapy

  1. Live now, stay in the present.
  2. Live here, be with the present.
  3. Stop imagining, experience reality.
  4. Stop unnecessary thinking.
  5. Express, rather than manipulating, explaining, justifying, or judging.
  6. Give in to unpleasantness do not restrict your awareness.
  7. Accept no "should" or "ought", other than your own.
  8. Take full responsibility for your own actions, feelings and thoughts.
  9. Surrender to being who you are right now.