Introduction to Gestalt Psychology

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An Introduction to Gestalt Therapy

In the 1940s Frederick (Fritz) and Laura Perls founded Gestalt therapy, which is a phenomenological-existential therapy. Gestalt therapy teaches therapists and patients the phenomenological method of awareness a philosophy or method of inquiry based on the assumption that reality consists of objects and events as they are perceived in human consciousness (Yontef, 2007). Yontel points out that the goals of Gestalt therapy are for clients to become aware of what and how they are doing, become aware of how they can change themselves, and for the clients to learn to accept and value their own person.

Phenomenology is a discipline that assists people in comprehending how to relinquish their usual way of thinking in order to stand aside from their problems and evaluate. This process allows the person to understand the difference between what is actually being perceived and felt within the current situation and what thoughts remain from past experiences. Therefore, Gestalt therapy treats what is subjectively felt in the present and what is objectively observed as real and important information. This method allows the Gestalt phenomenological exploration of awareness into insight, which is a patterning of the perceptual field. Insight allows the significant realities to become apparent (Yontef, 2007). Therefore Gestalt therapy insight is clearly understood as part of the structure of the situation that the needs to be studied.

One area of study within Gestalt therapy is existentialism, which is based on the phenomenological method. Existentialism focuses on people's existence, relations with each other, distresses, and pleasures as being directly experienced. Yontef (2007) points out that most people operate in an unstated context of conventional thought that may obscure or evade acknowledging the actuality of the world. Gestalt therapist assert that because all of nature is seen as a unified and coherent whole, one can only be understood to the extent that therapist take into consideration every dimension of human function (Corey, 2001). Thus, Gestalt therapy provides a method of being genuine and significantly responsible to one's self.

Dialogue within the relationship between the therapist and the client is the most important aspect of psychotherapy. Existential dialogue is a key part of Gestalt therapy because relationships grow out of contact. The I-Though dialogue and I-It manipulative language allows for self-identity. Furthermore, the dialogue leads to Gestalt therapy assisting clients to develop their own support for desired contact or withdraw via energy, body support, breathing, information, concern for others, language, and various other methods (Yontef, 2007). Corey (2001) further explains that Gestalt therapist pay attention to and explore what is occurring at the boundary between the person and the environment. Because Gestalt therapists are interested in the whole person, therapists place no superior value on a particular aspect of the individual. Subsequently, Gestalt therapy helps client by engaging in dialogue rather than manipulating the patient toward some therapeutic goal because authenticity and responsibility are fostered.

Gestalt therapy is an effectual method because patients work toward understanding through the use of active, healing presence of the therapist. More importantly, Gestalt therapy emphasizes that whatever subsists within the present moment, and that the experiences based on the present, are more dependable than interpretations. Gestalt therapy, thus, is useful because the immediate experiences of the patient are actively utilized within the collaborative format for self-healing.


Corey, G. (2001). Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy. United States: Brooks/Cole.

Yontef, G. (2007). Gestalt Therapy: An Introduction. "The Gestalt Therapy Network." Retrieved on 08/20/07, from,

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