Gestalt Therapy Notes


Developed by Fritz Perls and Laura Perls

grounded in existentialism…literally means form….basically, the parts make up the whole, but the whole has far more meaning than the parts

Gestalt therapy: provide context and perspective that increases awareness for what we are experiencing

  • Grounded in the here-and-now…focus on awareness, choice and responsibility
  • Awareness allows us to  find the resources within us to solve our problems and discover conditions that make change possible
  • Basic assumption: we CAN self-regulate if we are aware of what is happening around us

Paradoxical theory of  change – change will happen as we become aware of what we are ….as opposed to trying to be who we really are not…in other words, accept who and what we are instead of trying to be what we should be

Gestalt Principles

Holism – our whole is greater than the sum of our parts

Field theory – everything is connected – what exactly is happening at the boundary between us and our environment

Awareness – instead of why…focus on what and how

Here and now – the past is past and the future is not here…The past is important only in how it relates to our current being and functioning. Gestalt therapy tries to bring past problems and situations into the present.

Unfinished business – unexpressed rage, hurt, anxiety, guilt, shame, grief, and hate will continue to haunt us unless we deal with it

Contact – Effective contact is when we interact wholly in our environment and with other people without losing our own individualism

Disturbances to Contact:

Introjection – just  go along with others without considering how they fit with our beliefs and standards

Projection – we disown parts of us that we don’t like and project those traits onto others

Retroflection – lashing out on ourselves in ways that we really want to lash out  to others

Confluence – when we don’t  distinguish  ourselves from others or the environment…we NEED to fit in and be accepted….we are the group/environment

Deflection – humor and questions…more humor and questions…can’t get to know the person because  they deflect from who they really are


Change “it” talk to I talk……change “you” talk to I talk….instead of asking questions, make statements…

Change can’t statements to won’t statements

Be aware of “shoulds and oughts”

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