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Gestalt Therapy

The essence of Gestalt Therapy is to make what is implicit explicit. For example, for clients who find themselves engaged in internal negative dialogue or negative self-talk, the Gestalt approach would bring this internal conversation to life. In the context of using “the empty chair" sitting in one chair is the negative voice and in another chair is the responding voice. The Gestalt therapist facilitates a mindful awareness of the experience, for example, bringing awareness to how the clients feel in their body when they express the voice of the critic or what they mindfully experience in their body as the voice of the responder, while they move back and forth, from chair to chair. As the client becomes mindfully aware, they have the opportunity to resolve conflict and integrate parts of themselves into a sensed whole self.


In couples therapy, the Gestalt therapist facilitates a mindful awareness of the dance, or pattern between partners in the present moment. Perhaps one partner becomes the critic or sends an implicit message, “if only you would change we would be happy." Or for another example, the one partner withdraws affection sending an implicit message to the other partner. Or, one partner pursues emotional contact while the other withdraws into distance. Initially, before making it visible, the dance is not explicit and leaves it to the imagination of the other partner. The Gestalt therapist helps the couple to make the dance explicit by bringing, to their mindful awareness, the impact of their actions on their partner’s feelings, thoughts, and behaviours in the present moment or what is termed the “here and now."


Working with a youth, the Gestalt therapist might approach this implicit to explicit awareness, through the use of art. The therapist asking the young person to draw a picture that represents how they feel right now, in the present moment “here and now." Then, the therapists facilitates them to give this picture a voice, with the objective of making explicit the implicit by having them speak and feel what they see in their picture.