Gestalt Therapy in Hobart
Gestalt Therapy is an experiential and mindfulness based approach to psychotherapy. Gestalt Therapy was developed in the 1950’s, the word Gestalt means “whole” in German. Gestalt Therapy emphasises paying attention to the entire person which includes; our thoughts, emotions, body, behaviours, sensations, perceptions and experiences. A core aspect of therapy is supporting clients to increase their awareness. Awareness is a “knowing as we are doing”. Through the heightening of awareness, we are in a better position to identify beliefs, behaviours and thinking styles that are self-limiting. By recognising patterns and increasing awareness, individuals are better able to move forward and to make decisions and choices which lead to living more satisfying and meaningful lives.
The Here and Now
One of the underpinning concepts of Gestalt Therapy is the here and now. This includes the therapist’s commitment to being completely present with themselves, with the client and with the in-between of what is happening with the therapist and client. The here and now also refers to paying attention to the client’s process moment to moment, rather than simply listening to the content about the past or thoughts about the future. The Gestalt Therapist pays attention to how the client tells their story, what they do with their body and how the feel as they talk about their experience (what is being thought, felt and done). The process of what is happening with the client as they are communicating is paid close attention to rather then simply concentrating on the content of what is being said.
The Concept of Contact
Human beings are relational beings. We are not made to live in isolation. The term contact refers to both what is occurring within a person and what occurs between two individuals. It is through contact that we find and experience meaning in our lives. Good contact has the potential to nourish and nurture us, therefore it also has the power to hurt us because we cannot taste the nourishing experience without opening ourselves up to being vulnerable. Though many of us wish to have good quality contact with ourselves and others, many of us have also devised ways to break contact or not allow it. This is a self protective strategy that can keep us safe from being hurt with the heavy cost of being denied nourishing and enriching relationships.
Paradoxical Theory of Change
The paradoxical theory of change is an essential principle of Gestalt Therapy. This term means the more one tries to become who one is not, the more one stays the same. Change occurs when one becomes what he or she is, not when he or she tries to become what they are not. Individuals are often in conflict with two parts of themselves; what he or she should be and who they think they are. This dichotomy does not allow the individual to ever fully identity with either aspect resulting in an experience of being “stuck”.
The therapeutic relationship is an essential part of therapy. The therapy is based on open authentic dialogue that is non-judgmental. Gestalt Therapy is not a set form of therapy and it is not prescriptive. It does not encourage individuals to adjust or conform to certain ways of living, rather it supports individuals to discover what is important to them. The Gestalt Therapist does not profess themselves to be the expert, rather they assist the client to find what is best for them through dialogue, experiments, story telling and playfulness. Therapy is not something that is “done” to the client. It requires a commitment from both the client and therapist to invest in the process of self exploration. Gestalt Therapy assists clients to live choiceful and personally meaningful lives.
An accredited Gestalt therapist has a minimum of four years intensive, experiential psychotherapeutic training including their own personal therapy, clinical supervision and an ongoing commitment to professional development and personal growth. Most Gestalt therapists have further professional training in the fields of psychology, counselling, social work, occupational therapy, mental health nursing, or psychiatry.
If you would like to learn more about Gestalt Therapy or to make an appointment with Diane McGeachy please contact her by phone or email.