About Gestalt Therapy
The aim of Gestalt Therapy is to raise personal awareness in order to move from old, unhelpful ways of being to new, enlivened, authentic ways.
People come to counselling or psychotherapy because they are distressed. Gestalt Therapy provides a way of exploring the source of this distress, increasing awareness of the distress and experimenting with new ways of being. Sometimes people feel no sense of self, no energy or 'zest for life', something is missing and relationships are unsatisfactory. As Gestalt Psychotherapists, we support you to reconnect with yourself, experience your feelings, senses, thoughts and body sensations. From this new situation of contact with yourself you can make informed choices and live with more authenticity, engagement and satisfaction.
Gestalt is a German word meaning 'whole'. In Gestalt Therapy we pay attention to the whole self. Both body and mind are seen from an holistic standpoint as being integrated and influencing each other, rather than as separate entities.
As Gestalt Psychotherapists, we firstly prepare the ground for raising awareness by building a therapeutic relationship between therapist and client. Time is taken to build trust and openness. As a client you need to feel secure and supported in the relationship.
Gestalt Therapy is rooted in the 'here and now'. We pay attention to what is happening right now. We encourage and support you to pay attention to feelings, body sensations, movements, breathing patterns, thoughts and words during the session. Because of the Gestalt focus on the body as well as talking, Gestalt is sometimes referred to as a body orientated therapy. This does not involve touch, but getting you to focus on what is happening in specific areas of your body right now. Because of this focus on paying careful attention in the here and now, meditation and mindfulness practices are also useful in conjunction with Gestalt and we may introduce some of these techniques.
Distress may be caused by fixed patterns of being. Often these are learned in childhood, when they may have been necessary, and carried into adulthood, where they no longer serve us, for example;
As a child you may have frequently been told to keep quiet and if you weren't you may have been punished. So you learnt that being quiet equalled avoiding punishment. However, this made it very difficult to express yourself and get your needs met. As an adult you may still have difficulty in expressing yourself as you carry this expectation of punishment and so your needs continue to go unmet.
These fixed behaviours, feelings and thoughts stop us in our tracks, block our spontaneity, our energy and lead to feelings of hopelessness, being stuck, life passing us by and confusion. As Albert Einstein said:
'Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.'
We lose our sense of self when we stop being who we are and become who others want/need us to be. Gestalt therapy is about reconnecting back to the self.
In Gestalt, we raise awareness about these fixed patterns and how they impact upon us here and now. As our awareness and connection to self grows the possibility of change and new choices emerge, this can be an exciting and liberating time and it can also be scary. As Gestalt Counsellors, we support and encourage you to experiment with new ways of being that are authentic for you. We take time to look at how you experience these new ways of being and integrate them into your life. As one Gestalt Counsellor put it;
'Change occurs when one becomes what one is, not when one tries to become what one is not.' Arnold R. Beisser, Gestalt Counsellor.