Gestalt therapy originated with Frederick and Laura Perls in the 1940’s. This particular discipline doesn’t involve attempting to interpret the past, but instead it focuses on present events.
This was the first form of therapy I experienced. I think it set me up to delve into DBT therapy later because of how it approaches the analysis of recent events. A gestalt therapist will speak with a client and discuss a recent event. Their role is to guide the client through processing events. As a client does so, they learn to evaluate events in terms of how they feel and perceive them. Then, the gestalt therapist guides the client through sorting out what they’re responding to in the present, vs what they’re responding to from the past.
This is very helpful for those who were raised in abusive households or who had abusive partners. Even if a person has gotten their life separated from their abusers, they may still respond to current situations with emotions and thoughts that originate in the past.
For example, if a person has been told they are stupid many times, it won’t matter if years have passed since finding freedom from the person who spoke that hateful term to them. All it takes is one person in the present saying the same insult in the same tone. Following this, a person may experience any number of emotional responses. Those reactions may also be stronger than the present situation warranted, and in fact could make the current situation worse than it needed to be.
With this type of therapy, a client learns to determine what perceptions are influenced by the past and find freedom from those ties.
Be sure to check next week when I delve into the principles of Gestalt Therapy and explain the process more fully.
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