When I think of Gestalt Therapy these words come to my mind:

Insightful, spontaneous, compassionate, accepting, raw, present, existential, creative, humorous, authentic.

Gestalt Therapy was primarily founded by Fritz Perls in the mid-1940s.  It arose as a humanistic and holistic alternative to Freudian Psychology and psychoanalysis.  Fritz Perls was trained as a Freudian psychoanalyst in the late 1920′s and was influenced by many peers of his generation, notably Gestalt Therapy’s other co-founders Laura Perls and Paul Goodman as well as Wilhem Reich whom Fritz undertook analysis with, Otto Rank, Jacob Moreno, Jan Smuts, Erich Fromm, Martin Buber, and Karen Horney, to name a few.

Gestalt therapy incorporates the early academic theories of Gestalt Psychology while at the same time incorporating a humanist, dynamic, experiential method that has contributed to the process of therapy today.

Rather than focusing on the past or the future, Gestalt pays a particular emphasis to the client in the present moment.  It is from this place that change can, or cannot occur.    Resistances and aspects of behaviour or personality that a client may or may not like are also accepted as necessary in the process of therapy.  The client learns to accept responsibility for his/her choices and responses and may try methods of altering them or experimenting with other ways of perceiving situations.

The holistic method of Gestalt therapy doesn’t compartmentalize body, mind, emotions but instead sees the interconnectedness of the entire human being.  Your life experiences, your choices, your thoughts, and your movements, even the way you dress, talk, dance, dream, brush your teeth, and choose friendships are all a part of who you are. Experimentation with who you are can bring insight and changes.  ‘How’ you do is often more important than ‘why’ or ‘what’ you do.

Gestalt often gives awareness and authenticity through it’s ability to be ruthlessly compassionate and blatantly obvious.   Indeed, therapists have sometimes called Gestalt the ‘art of seeing the obvious’.


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