Text of Gestalt Therapy What are you doing? What do you feel? What do you want?
Gestalt TherapyWhat are you doing?
What do you feel?
What do you want?
Psychopathology People have problems because they are cut
off from parts of themselves. We learn to fragment parts of ourselves that
are “unacceptable” or may be “punished” Psychopathology is cured by reintegrating
into a whole self
Gestalt Principle 1 Principle of Proximity- when stimuli are close
together they tend to form one perceptual unit
// // // // // //
What do you see above?
Gestalt Principle 2 Principle of closure- incomplete figures are
usually perceived as closed by the mind
/ \ / \
Gestalt Principle 3 Figure/Ground Relation- we organize what
we see into a shape in the foreground (figure) and a rather formless background (the ground). This distinguishes between important and unimportant elements of the environment and applies to thoughts, feelings and behaviors as well.
Gestalt Principle 4 Organismic Self-Regulation- A person’s need
to balance polarities and accept opposites in the self. Adult vs. child Worried vs. care free Intellectual vs. emotional Strong vs. weak Etc.
Gestalt Concepts Awareness is the key to positive growth and
integration (Behaviors change is not a focus of therapy)
Awareness comes from experience: Contact Boundaries Support
Contact Boundaries and Support
Contact: TH/Cl relationship is critical
Boundaries connect and separate us Weak boundaries-we confuse other’s needs with our own Rigid boundaries-we feel alone and alienated
Support: Anxiety occurs when we do not believe we have or will have the support we need. (ex. Fear of future events)
Signs that you are out of touch with your emotions or needs
SHOULDS A form of neurotic self-regulation
Occurs when you live according to rules you’ve learned so well that they seem natural
Sometimes in automatically being polite and agreeable with others, we are “rude to ourselves” disregarding our own interesrts, concerns and opinions. Pearls
Contact Boundary Disturbances You believe your thinking and emotions
really belong to or are shared by someone else (examples from couples therapy-219) Introjection Projection Retroflection- feeling toward other turned on self Deflection- avoiding contact with self or other Confluence- merging with another thru agreement
of opinion or feeling (we are one)
Interruptions-Automatic Self-Regulation Actions Automatically stopping acknowledgement of
self or experience, including disowning experiences Ex. A client smiles and changes topic after
reporting the death of her grandmother, without noticing having done so
Intrusions of Unfinished Business Unresolved emotions and issues from the past
effect the present. Ex. Transference
To get “unstuck” one must accept the past vs. trying to relive it correctly.
HOW DO YOU HELP YOUR CLIENT …to realize they have all the inner support they need
Therapeutic Relationship FORGET POSITIVE REGUARD
Client’s need direct, in the moment feedback to realize how they are viewed by others Be and show your boredom, irritation, impatience Admit to mistakes and unhealthy behavior in your
own life Purposely frustrate your client, don’t protect them
from discomfort or responsibility Don’t interpret, client’s need to form their own
Removing Layers of Neuroses- Peeling the onion 1) The Phony Layer- Behaving inauthentically in
social settings 2) The Phobic Layer- Energy is spent covering
feelings of fear and helplessness 3) The Impasse Layer- Stuck, want help and others
to tell them what to do 4) The Implosive Layer- Phony Identity Collapses,
thus people feel dead inside or cut off from their former self
5) The Explosive Layer- Letting go of old self, thus energy is freed up to form new self
Techniques of Gestalt Therapy
You are but a magnifying mirror Every thing a patient does and does not do is
an expression of the self Therapist asked questions (vs.
statements/interpretations) based on these observations to bring awareness to the patient
Focus on present moment
Body Awareness Mind vs. Body Polarity-Not a discussion, but an
experience “Where do you feel your anger?” A feeling that one’s
head is about to blow up is different from an ache in the stomach.
An unconsciously clenched jaw may be a sign of an impulse to speak being repressed Interventions:
If your clenched jaw could speak, what would it say? Really exaggerate your clenched jaw to increase intensity while
providing support of therapist
In Class Body Awareness Activity Think of a strong emotion you recently felt Can you locate it in your body? Does it’s location clarify the emotion to you
in any way? Feel the emotion and conduct a body scan to
determine how you physically express this emotion.
Experimentation Experimental Homework- advise a reversal.
Ex. Cl complains husband does not chat with her when he comes home from work. She has tried pursuit of him with no success. Advise her to pleasantly retreat into an activity of her own interest.
The client is not looking for a solution or relief from distress, but rather for some deeper understanding thru experimenting
Experimentation cont. Turn statements about others into statements about
self (to explore projection)
Encourage client to “stay with” emotion in session. (Most clients don’t have practice staying with emotions, most of their energy is spent trying to move past or avoid the emotion)
Use client’s imagination to actively fantasize and make experiences vivid
Role Playing Client acts out different perspectives, people
polarities, conflicts, etc. in session
Empty Chair Technique- act out character, emotion, inner conflict for conflict resolution, depth of experience, integration of polarities, and soften the harsh internal critic (which helps to resolve intra psychic splits)
Dream Work Role Play dreams
1) Client presents dream in detail and in present tense
2) Client plays roles of persons and objects in dream
Each part of a dream represents a projections or aspects of the dreamer. Helps to integrate parts, make sense of and utilize dreams
Psychodrama Uses a group of people to act out past experience of
client, with client acting as the director. This is used to bring past into present. The client can act as self and experiment with alternative ways of interacting.
Doing it is always preferable to talking about it
Language Modification Client’s language reveals their world view
and typical methods of avoidance. Therapist insists on present tense and the use
of the word “I” “I Can’t” must be said as “I choose not to”
“I have to” must be said “I want to” “I’m not able to” must be said “I decide not to” Adding on “ and I take responsibility for it”
Example A Client says: I might as well get my nose
cut now, so I’ll go ahead and turn in my paper.” “My program advisors ganged up on me” and “I was torn to shreds about my paper by my teacher.”
How does this client likely view Himself The world
Limitation Gestalt therapy is not for people with impulse
control difficulties, who run over other’s as a rule of thumb
Delinquents Sociopaths Client’s with poorly developed empathy
Unless modified to fit these populations
Limitations Pearls himself loved to shock, loved an audience and
was quite the narcissist. He fell asleep during sessions and had sex with clients. His original work may need to be tempered with interpersonal sensitivity and responsibility.
VERY individualistic Very emotionally expressive Anti-intellectualism Philosophically sloppy