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The Gestalt Theory

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Introduction

Ray Bruce The Gestalt Theory Foundation Course in Psychotherapy and Counselling Monday March 13th 2006 An essay submitted in partial fulfilment of the foundation course in psychotherapy and counselling. In this essay I will be explaining the principles of the Gestalt Therapy. I will describe how the therapy works in general and from my own interest I will highlight the creative element to Gestalt. The Founders of The Gestalt approach. The two main founders of the gestalt approach were Frederick (Fritz) Perls ( 1893-1970) and his wife Laura Perls ( 1905-1992). The Gestalt Therapy Gestalt is a German word meaning "pattern". Although there's no easily translated term in English, it's meaning loosely translates into "the whole picture". This is one of the main purposes of the Gestalt Therapy in that it's aim is to get a sense of the client as being a "whole" or what the client is actually about. Gestalt is an alternative humanistic approach, it focuses on the Existentialism and Phenomenological ideas of Psychotherapy. The initial goal of the therapy is to promote self-awareness and personal growth. Therefore, focusing on the process of what is happening rather than what is being discussed. ...read more.

Middle

The principles of these experiments were based on perception which emphasised the holistic, organism and biological theory of human functioning and growth ( Clarkson 1989). In order to make sense of life events, our perceptions are organised into Gestalts. Once a Gestalt is formed there is a focus of attention on a background of all immediate relevance. This is called 'Figure and Ground'. This is an important concept in Gestalt theory and was described many years ago by Kohler, Koffka and Worthier ( Zinker 1977). Figure and Ground is the difference between what we are visually experiencing at that moment, being the 'Figure' and everything else is around us is 'Ground'. As Zinker (1977) explains...... as I am looking at my notes, I see a page which says 'Energy'......this page is figure ........... The ground is the rest of my desk which appears to be cluttered with a number of things of secondary interest to me. Therefore, the figure and ground formation is called 'field theory' ( Clarkson 1977: 8 ). All aspects of field theory are based on the individual and their environment being interrelated so that the field forms their context. Each field is organised into a gestalt by the dominant need at that moment. ...read more.

Conclusion

The therapist might invite him to exaggerate the posture of his body, or to stay in the hunched position to explore what it may represent. Alternately the experiment might be exploring an 'opposite' body position. Gestalt Therapy employs a variation of these experiments that include dramatisations, dance or other forms of physical movements. Also, dialogue between parts of one self, working with dreams and exploring changes in behaviour have all proved to be effective. Some experiments have become classics, as in the 'empty chair' experiment, in which a person speaks to someone with whom they have some un-finished business with or they may speak to another part of themselves, the weak side of the person may speak to the strong side. They may then move to the other chair and react from that position either being the other person or the other part of self. By giving the person the opportunity to confront this un-finished business helps them to communicate with the other person and come in contact with their own anger, feelings, and thoughts. Therefore Gestalt Therapy is designed to heighten the awareness of how a person is operating in the present moment and aids the process to complete the un-finished business. With awareness comes relief and resolution to the un-finished business and a new integration of the personality. ...read more.

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