Gestalt therapy integrates the body and mind, by stressing awareness and integration. Integration of behaviours, feelings, and thinking is the main objective in Gestalt therapy. Clients are viewed as having the ability to recognise how earlier life influences may have impacted their lives. A strong emphasis is placed on personal responsibility; clients are encouraged to take care of themselves rather than expect others to do it. They are also encouraged to finish unfinished matters, and become more aware of their moment by moment experience.
In Gestalt therapy, therapists challenge clients with questions so that the client increases his awareness of feelings and develops a stronger ability to face life situations and problems. Gestalt therapists can use a variety of other techniques, such as role playing and confrontation, to help the client learn more effective means of coping and to assume more responsibility for the activities of their life. The emphasis is on what is being done, thought, and felt at the moment, rather than on what occurred in the past, what might be, could be, or even what should be. The therapist teaches the client that what is directly experienced and felt is more reliable than explanations or interpretations based on pre-existing experiences or attitudes. The purpose of Gestalt therapy is for the client to become aware of what they are doing, how they are doing it and how they can change themselves-and, at the same time, learn to accept and value themselves.
Gestalt therapy teaches therapists and clients the phenomenological method of awareness, in which perceiving, feeling, and acting are distinguished from interpreting and reshuffling pre-existing attitudes. Explanations and interpretations are considered less reliable than what is directly perceived and felt. Gestalt psychotherapy can be conceived of as the process of ameliorating the healthy contact between a person and his or her environment, with a view to satisfying needs.
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