Gestalt Therapy

Gestalt Therapy


Gestalt Therapy is a treatment that focuses on the therapist and client interaction. The dialogue allows therapists to open up to the client in a mutual manner by expressing their own observations and feelings. The sessions consist of a hands-on approach although it is the client's decision as to when they want to open up during treatment. There may be conversations, activities and expressions that simply connect the individual to the counselor. Gestalt Therapy believes that as individuals we are always re-discovering ourselves and transforming who we are. The approach is for the purpose of helping the client gain an awareness of themselves which in turn can improve their relationships with others. All of these techniques are used in a counseling session to help move a patient forward from emotional conflict.

Goals of Gestalt Therapy

Gestalt Therapy is based on raising the patient's awareness in how they interact with others within a given environment. The purpose of treatment is to see how the individual responds from moment to moment instead of forcing a therapy methodology. Awareness is found from sessions that support the client's emotions and cognitive health. After the treatment they will be more aware of how they respond to others because they will have accepted a new identity. The patients benefit from therapy because it focuses on developing them into someone who can carry healthy relationships. The experience throughout cannot be determined – it is unpredictable although the therapy is complex, based on the following models: Holism, Field Theory, The Figure, Organismic Self-Regulation, Disturbed concepts, The Now and Unfinished business.

When is Gestalt Therapy Used?

Gestalt Therapy is used to improve the client's ability in identifying with themselves and expressing emotions. By taking part in counseling they will gain overall awareness. It is used on many who may be unfamiliar with how they respond to others and if it is affecting personal relationships. These clients may have lost touch with who they are somewhere along the way. The trauma and hardships associated with life can result in a loss of self. Gestalt Therapy is used when patients need to regain their purpose and live a life that is full of desire and achievement.

How Gestalt Therapy Works

The therapy process begins at first contact between the counselor and patient. Assessment is unique because it consists of various psychodynamic treatments. Screenings are usually done over time after a trusting relationship has been created. The assessment begins toward the beginning and revolves around the client's ability to willingly open up in the counseling framework. It measures the client's ability and how they get along with others. This determines the biofeedback and adjunctive treatment. Eventually the assessment will uncover whether or not the client is in need of medication or a varying therapy.

There are different intervention types that are either behavioral or cognitive. The counselor focuses on the emotions and sensations of the client which is built into the framework of therapy. There are many exercises implemented to increase the awareness and allow for progressive change. They may bring up some emotions throughout the sessions although growth stems from the client's response toward relationships.  Exercises are spontaneous and different from other treatment methods because it as an open approach. This can initiate the patient's imagination or fantasy world, as long as they are interacting and expressing their needs or wants to the counselor. It is conducted under collaboration methods that are created to help the client progress by trying out new behaviors that might be more effective in relationships.

Being that there are clients who come in having dealt with a traumatic event, it's effective to avoid forced conversation. By creating a trusting relationship and dialogue during the session it helps the patient open up and expose the parts of their life that created hurt or distrust. It can be extremely difficult to relieve a painful event which is why the client has the safe environment needed to express themselves in any way that they want. All the while the therapist is focusing on what puts the individual at ease. This is meant for eliminating tension and renewing the client by providing them with an empowering identity.

Criticism of Gestalt Therapy

There has been some controversy in regards to Gestalt Therapy and whether or not the therapist is abusing their open methodology. Although it is a spontaneous approach, the mood of the treatment may not be suitable for all clients and even too aggressive for some. There is also a controversial lack of monitoring during the interaction.


Gestalt demonstrations. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Humanistic therapies. (n.d.). Retrieved from 

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