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- Existential and Phenomenological (it is grounded in the client's "here and now"
- Initial goal (is for clients to gain awareness of what they are experiencing and doing now)
- -Promotes direct experiencing rather than the abstractness of talking about situations.
- -Rather than talk about a childhood trauma the client is encouraged to become the hurt child.
- The Goal (is for clients to become aware of what thye are doing. How they are doing it, and how they can change themselves, and at the same time, to learn to accept and and value themselves).
Focuses more on process (what is happening) than content (what is being discussed). The emphasis is on what is being done, thgouth and felt at the moment rather than on what was, might be, could be, or should be.
Principles of Gestalt Theory
- Field Theory
- Figure Formation Process
- Organismic Self-Regulation
The full range of human functioning includes thoughts, feelings, behaviors, body, language, and dreams.
- The field is the client's environment which consists of therapist and client and all that goes on between them.
- Client is participant in a constantly changing filed.
- The therapist pays attention to and explores what is occurring at the boundary between the client and the environment.
Figure Formatio Process
How an individual organizes experiences from moment to moment (Foreground: figure; Background: ground)
- Emergence of need sensations and interest distrub an individual's equilibrium
- People will try to regulate themselves when distured by the need, sensation, or interest.
- The therapist helps the client to see what emerges in the background during the therapy.
- This is designed to help client to obtain closure of unfinished situations, destroy fixed Gestalts, and incorporate more satisfying ones.
- We live in the "here and now"
- Our "power is in the present"
- -Nothing exists except the "now"
- -The past is gone and the future has not yet arrived
- For many people the power of the present is lost
- -They may focus on their past mistakes or engage in endless resolutions and plans for the future.
- Phenomenological Inquiry
- -Paying attention to what is happening now
- -Ask "what" and "how" questions but rarely "why" questions... "why"
- Feelings about the past are unexpressed
- -These feelings are associated with distinct memories and fantasises
- -Feelings not fully experienced linger in the background and interfere with effective contact.
- -Preoccupation, compulsive behavior, wariness oppressive energy and self-defeating behavior (these are in the background)
- -May use games to obtain affirmation, attention, confirmation of worth.
- Therapist stays in the moment to acknowledge and encourage the client to fully experience the impasse feeling.
- People tend to talk about their feelings instead of experiencing them in the here and now. This is a form of detachment that is safer, so the therapist encourages the client to feel the pain now, or discomfort now.
- Interacting with nature and with other people without losing one's individuality.
- The lifeblood of growth
Boundary Distrubances/Resistance to Contact
The defenses we develop to prevent us from experiencing the present fully
Five Major Channels of Resistance
6 Components of Gestalt Therapy Methodology
- The continuum of experience
- The here and now
- The paradoxical theory of change
- The experiment
- The authentic encounter
- Process-oreinted diagnosis
- The experiment in Gestalt Therapy
- Internal Dialogue Exercise
- Rehearsal Exercise
- Exaggeration Exercise
- Staying with the Feeling
- Making the Rounds
- Dream Work
Application to Group Counseling
- Encourage direct experience and action
- Here-and-now focus allows members to bring unfinished business to the present
- Members try out experiemnts within the group setting
- Leaders can use linking to include members in the exploration of a particular individual's problems.
- Leaders actively design experiments for the group while focusing on awareness and contact
- Group leaders actively engage with the members to form a sense of mutuality in the group.
Limitations of Gestalt Therapy
- The approach has the potential for the therapists to abuse power by using powerful techniques wihtout proper training.
- This approach may not be useful for clients who have difficulty abstracting and imagining
- The emphasis on therapist authenticity and self discloure may be overpowering for some clients.
- The high focus on emotion may pose limitations for clients who have been culturally conditioned to be emotionally reserved.
Client Centered (what you believe about yourself, based on what people have told you)
Disown your own feelings
- Self-multilate (expressing aggression inward out of fear of expressing it outward)
- Self-damaging behaviors.
Veer off, humor
Blend in, avoid
- Be aware of respond to non-verbal language especially if there is incongruence
- -If you hand could speak, what would it say?
- Language patterns that can both reveal and conceal:
- -"it" talk
- -"you" talk
- -Language that denies power- "maybe" "I suppose"
- "grinder"-what is your experience with ground? "who grinds"
- -Listening for language that uncover a story- elusive details.
The Experiment in Gestalt Therapy
Experiment is different than exercises
Internal Dialogue Exercise
Top and underdogs-constant struggle for control, use the empty chair technique, address the introjects.
Verbalize the slient rehearsal that we do.
Play the role of someone who is the opposite. Connect with the part that is being denied
Make extreme the non-verbal behaviors the discuss the feeling.
Staying with the Feeling
Don't run from what you have usually run from
Making the Rounds
Great person with a statement that reflects the fear "I don't trust you because..."
Don't interpret- bring to life in the here and now. Dreams represent a projection-things we fear are placed on others and we are victimized by them.
Prepare the Client
- Therapist has to be convinced that Gestalt Therapy works, mabye by even being a client
- Develop a relationship with the client
- Avoid directing them in a commanding fashion
- Be aware that some clients are used to controlling their feelings and will be reluctant to engage in exercises that bring emotions to the surface, so expect and respect this reluctance.
- Timing of use of exercises is important
- Experiments require cooperative and active response
- Explore hesitation in the moment
- What is the role of confrontation?
- -What can it imply?