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Gestalt Therapy was founded by Frederick (Fritz) and Laura Perls in the 1940s. It teaches a method of awareness, in which perceiving, feeling, and acting are distinguished from trying to interpret or explain things. Explanations and interpretations are considered less reliable than what is directly perceived and felt.  The goal of Gestalt Therapy is for clients to become aware of what they are doing, how they are doing it, and how they can change themselves, and at the same time, to learn to accept and value themselves.

Gestalt Therapy focuses more on process (what is happening) than content (what is being discussed). The emphasis is on what is being done, thought and felt at the moment rather than on what was, might be, could be, or should be.
What to expect in Gestalt Therapy

Gestalt Therapy probably has a greater range of formats than any other therapy technique. It is practised in individual, couples, and family therapies, as well as in therapy with children.

Ideally, the client identifies current sensations and emotions, particularly ones that are painful or disruptive. Clients are confronted with their unconscious feelings and needs, and are assisted to accept and assert those repressed parts of themselves.

The most powerful techniques involve role-playing. For example, the client talks to an empty chair as s/he imagines that a person associated with an unresolved issue is sitting in the chair. As the client talks to the “person” in the chair, the client imagines that the person responds to the expressed feelings. Sometimes clients are invited to use rackets or padded sticks that can be used to hit chairs or sofas. Using a racket can help a person safely express anger.

Although these techniques may sound artificial and might make some people feel self-conscious, they can be a powerful ways to approach buried feelings and help people gain new insight into them. The therapist’s role is not to interpret experiences for the client.  Instead, the therapist and client work together to help the client understand him/herself and make conscious choices.