Why Gestalt Therapy?
Therapy is a Relationship
One of the features of relational Gestalt therapy is egalitarianism. The therapist and the client are two people in a relationship, with each of us contributing to and influencing the relationship, which is a primary focus of therapy. As therapists, we are deeply engaged, we share our feelings, and we are participating in the relationship as our full selves. Healing occurs through this relationship between two people, not where the therapist hides behind “the authority” role.
How We Change
Another of the main tenets of Gestalt therapy is the paradoxical theory of change. The theory holds that the more we try to change, the more we stay the same: that we do not change through rejection of ourselves. Instead, paradoxically, true change is possible when we are aware of and accepting of how things are for us in the moment. Acceptance isn’t resignation; it’s an acknowledgment of how we truly feel, think, and experience, which moves us away from our beliefs about how we should feel or behave. Much of our experience of confusion, feeling stuck, or critical of ourselves develops from judging or not truly knowing what we feel and think. When we try to live according to our “shoulds,” we end up confused and feeling disempowered. We don’t trust ourselves and have a pervasive sense that there is something not quite right about us. Working with the paradoxical theory of change, we “get ourselves back;” we develop a firm footing and a more empowered position to then explore new options and change. Lasting change cannot happen until we accept ourselves for who we are, with all our human flaws and struggles.
We Experiment Together
Experimentation is another feature of Gestalt therapy. We play with and experiment with new ways of being with ourselves and others, to see how it feels and gain new information about ourselves and how we are in the world. And with information and awareness, we can make decisions about what feels right for us in various situations and move more flexibly and resiliently in the world. Experimenting often lowers the stakes of trying new things because there is no right or wrong way to be; we’re able to move at our own pace and check in with ourselves, trusting our own experience.