What is Gestalt?

What of the questions I am most often asked is ‘What is Gestalt counselling?’ Here’s a brief introduction to some of the core parts of what I do.

Gestalt therapy operates on four pillars. The first is that it is a relational model, meaning the therapist is in relationship with the client. I will at times comment on how I am feeling or what I am thinking in context to the material the client brings to the sessions.

The second pillar of Gestalt is Phenomenology. I will track a client’s body language, their tone of voice, demeanour and ask them to check in with bodily sensations. Our bodies contain much information if we take time to attune to ourselves. Many people complain of carrying their stress in their shoulders, this is just one example of an arising phenomena and how it is carried in the body.

The third pillar of Gestalt incorporates Field Theory, meaning that nothing in one’s life is isolated, rather all parts of our life have an effect on each other. In this way Gestalt takes the whole person in to consideration. Thoughts, feelings, our histories, our families, work life and private life all form part of a person’s field.

The last pillar of Gestalt is the use of experiments. Gestalt is most famous for it’s use of the empty chair, a way of expressing ourselves to an imaginary person or difficult aspect of ourselves. I also hope to work in other creative ways such as using flip charts for drawing and other non-verbal expression.

These pillars of Gestalt are based on a foundation of the Here and Now. While events from our past and worries about the future may cloud our mind, it is important to remember that we are alive in the present moment. You may know this as mindfulness which has proven very popular in the last five years.