Gestalt Theoretical Framework

Assignment Resources:

· “Gestalt Therapy Background, Chapter 8

· Gestalt Therapy Background, Chapter 8

· Gestalt Therapy Session, Read the case of Gwen on page 223. Answer all the questions on page 224.

· Review and reflect on the questions for reflection at the end of Chapter 8.

· Complete the written assignment according to the assignment directions.

Originated by Fritz Perls, Gestalt Therapy has as its core belief the notion that reality is often clouded over by unfinished business and it is therefore necessary to urge clients to experience the “now.” Believing that awareness equals reality and that individuals tend to avoid unfinished business, Gestalt therapists are active and directive as they push their clients to understand how they use external supports to disguise their past hurts and pains. Examples of some common external supports include the use of nonverbal behavior, such as a client who taps his foot at the mention of an anxiety producing subject; intellectualizing, such as a client who spews facts and figures to avoid feelings; and blaming, such as a client who states that her depression is due to how her husband and children treat her. In stark contrast to many psychodynamic approaches which slowly attempt to help clients understand their defenses, Gestalt therapists push clients to deepen their experiences and be freed from their defenses. A few of the many techniques Gestalt therapists have developed to accomplish this include:

1. Awareness Exercises, such as when the therapist asks the client to close his or her eyes and experience all prevalent feelings, thoughts, and senses to quickly get in touch with one’s defenses.

2. Playing the projection and Using “I” Statements are used to discourage projecting onto others and things. For instance, the statement: “I hate her, she doesn’t love me,” becomes, “I hate myself; I’ve never learned how to love myself.”

3. Exaggeration Techniques are used when the therapist wants the client to get in touch with the underlying meaning of a word, phrase, or nonverbal behavior. A client who slouches is asked to slouch more and state what he or she is feeling. Suddenly the client states: “I feel as though the world is on my shoulders.”

4. The Empty Chair Technique is used to help a person dialogue with a part of self or another person in order to uncover underlying issues and feelings.

5. Turning Questions into Statements About Self are used because gestalt therapists believe all questions are really statements about underlying feelings, issues, and values. For instance, “Why don’t people care more about others?” may become: “I feel that people don’t care about me.”