Gestalt therapy is a process - oriented mode of therapy that focuses attention on the healthy, integrated functioning of the total organism comprised of the senses, the body, the emotions and the intellect. It was originally developed by Frederick (Fritz) and Laura Perls in the 1940’s and has at its base principles from psychoanalytic theory, Gestalt psychology, various humanistic theories, as well as aspects of phenomenology, existentialism and Reichian body therapy. From these sources, and others, a large body of theoretical concepts and principles have evolved underlying the practice of Gestalt therapy.
A major focus is to help clients become aware of what they are doing, how they are doing it, and how they can change themselves, and at the same time, to learn to accept and value themselves. It focuses more on process than content ( though content may be used as examples of one’s process.) What is directly perceived, felt and experienced is considered more relevant than explanations and interpretations.
Gestalt therapy is a client-centered approach to psychotherapy that helps clients focus on the present and understand what is really happening in their lives right now, rather than what they may perceive to be happening based on past experience. Instead of simply talking about past situations, clients are encouraged to experience them, perhaps through re-enactment. Through the gestalt process, clients learn to become more aware of how their own negative thought patterns and behaviors are blocking true self-awareness and making them unhappy.