The Gestalt Approach in Counselling: Understanding its Purpose and an Example of Gestalt Therapy

What is the Gestalt approach in counselling? What is the purpose of Gestalt therapy? What is an example of Gestalt therapy?

Garry Ebrey. Diploma Counselling. Accredited Counsellor.

2/1/20241 min read

The Gestalt approach in counselling is a humanistic and experiential form of therapy that focuses on the present moment and the individual's experience of it. Developed by Fritz Perls in the 1940s, Gestalt therapy emphasizes the importance of self-awareness, personal responsibility, and the integration of mind, body, and emotions.

The purpose of Gestalt therapy is to help individuals develop a greater sense of self-awareness and understanding of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It aims to support clients in gaining insight into their patterns of relating to others and the world around them. By exploring their present experience, clients can uncover unresolved issues from the past that may be impacting their present functioning.

An example of Gestalt therapy is the "empty chair" technique. In this exercise, the client is asked to imagine a person or a part of themselves in an empty chair and engage in a dialogue with it. This technique allows clients to express and explore conflicting emotions, unresolved issues, or unfinished business. By externalizing these internal conflicts, clients can gain new insights and perspectives, leading to increased self-awareness and personal growth.

Gestalt therapy also utilizes various other experiential techniques such as role-playing, dream work, and body awareness exercises. These methods aim to help clients connect with their emotions, increase their self-acceptance, and develop a more authentic and integrated sense of self.

Unlike some other therapeutic approaches, Gestalt therapy does not focus solely on symptom reduction or problem-solving. Instead, it emphasizes the importance of the therapeutic relationship and the exploration of the client's immediate experience. By fostering a safe and non-judgmental environment, the therapist encourages clients to fully experience and express their thoughts, feelings, and sensations in the present moment.

Overall, the Gestalt approach in counselling offers a holistic and relational perspective on personal growth and self-discovery. By focusing on the present moment and the integration of mind, body, and emotions, Gestalt therapy provides individuals with the opportunity to explore and transform their patterns of relating to themselves and others, leading to increased self-awareness, self-acceptance, and personal fulfillment.