The word ‘Gestalt’ literally means ‘Whole’. Gestalt therapy was founded by Fritz and Laura Perls, and is one of several schools of Psychotherapy. It adopts a holistic approach to working with the human being, paying attention to both what goes on inside the individual – physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually, as well as socially in relation to other persons and the environment. Its therapeutic techniques are based on experiential, experimental and existential philosophies.
The goal of Gestalt Therapy is awareness. By focusing on the here and now, and present experience, it helps us become more in touch with our inner Self. It also challenges us to see how past experiences may be influencing our present life circumstances, the ways we adjust to the world around us, and the ways we avoid facing our fears and inhibitions, that may be blocking us from growing and fullfilling our potential. Gestalt Therapy assumes that psychological difficulties and disorders stem from needs, wishes, emotions and mental fixations of which we are not aware and which would be predisposing us to react in ineffective ways. By becoming aware of the various components influencing our life as well as the variety of options that are available to us, it aims to increase the person’s ability to contact and respond effectively to these situations.
The philosophy underlying Gestalt Therapy is that given adequate challenge and support and with increased awareness of oneself and one’s role in life, the person becomes capable of self-healing and actualisation. As a psychotherapeutic method it is applicable to individuals, couples, families, groups and organizations. It is also used effectively in supervision and organizational development as well as in education.