Definition: Gestalt methods are derived from a field of pschotherapy first developed by Frederick Perls in the early 1950's. Based in humanistic psychology, the gestalt approach seeks to assist people in developing their natural and undistorted view of life by expanding their awareness and integrating their thoughts, actions and feelings in a unified whole.
Within a training environment, Gestalt counselling and therapy approaches can be employed by suitably skilled and experienced trainers usually to work with individuals or small groups wishing to explore an issue from a range of different (or new) perspectives. Such training interventions usually employ a psychodrama or psychotherapy format. Having worked with the individual or group to identify a specific issue, the trainer may assist members of the group to re-create or represent other characters, viewpoints or perspectives surrounding the issue and then employ these additional perspectives to enable one or more members of the learning group to generate a wider awareness of the particular issue. In the course of the training session, participants may find themselves engaged at an emotional level and their behaviour may be unpredicable. This is part of the gestalt process of seeking congruence between the different elements of a learner's experience - their thoughts, actions and feelings.
The use of Gestalt approaches within training normally requires a lengthy session to enable the issues arising to be fully dealt with. The session is focused and guided by the needs of the learner (rather than by any content from the trainer), and demands a high level of skills and confidence on the part of the trainer. Gestalt methods should not be attempted by those without appropriate training and supervision.
Further guidance is available from a range of gestalt institutes and therapy bodies in many countries.
Providers using a Gestalt approach in their work:
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