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  • Becky Whittaker

I Am Me, and You Are You: The Allure of Gestalt Therapy



"I do my thing and you do your thing. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, And you

are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you and I am I; If by chance we find each other, its

beautiful. If not, it can't be helped.


The Gestalt Prayer, penned by Laura and Fritz Perls: is a simple, profound statement, a cornerstone

of Gestalt therapy. Gestalt therapy asks us, "Embrace the present, own your experience, and dance

with the; what is; instead of the & what if quote.


Gestalt deals with the now – the lived experience. For me the now is writing this as I sit at my desk

looking out at a cold grey wet morning. For you, your gestalt experience is reading this, with the

awareness of where you are, what you can hear, smell, taste….


Gestalt is about experience, not explanation: Forget the endless analysis of ;why’. Gestalt therapy is

all about "what." What are you feeling right now? What are your bodily sensations? What images

come to mind? By focusing on the richness of our immediate experience, Gestalt helps us move

beyond the mental chatter and connect with the raw, authentic core of our being. Its a refreshing

shift from the "why" of traditional therapy to the vibrant "what" of the present moment.

Gestalt deals with the now and helping our clients to emerge from the background. It focuses on the

‘figure and ground’ of our present experience. What's in the foreground, demanding our attention,

our emotions? And what's in the background, the silent whispers of our past and future influencing

the present moment? By paying close attention to this interplay, we can help clients to understand

how their past shapes their present and how they can choose to respond with awareness and

intention, rather than being puppets of past programming.


Gestalt therapy looks at the whole of the client (The German word Gestalt doesn’t have an English

equivalent, but its nearest meaning is ‘whole’). It takes as its belief, the idea that we are all greater

than the sum of our parts: We're not just a collection of thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Gestalt

therapy recognises us as holistic beings, where mind, body, and soul dance in a dynamic interplay. It

acknowledges the wisdom of the body, the power of emotions, and the interconnectedness of our

inner and outer worlds.


In a Gestalt session, you might find yourself exploring your dreams, engaging in movement exercises,

or even using art to express unspoken emotions. This integrative approach helps us tap into the full

spectrum of our being and discover a deeper sense of wholeness.


The ‘empty chair’ technique, a Gestalt trademark, becomes a canvas for exploring anxieties, fears,

and even the parts of ourselves we hide away. It';s a powerful tool that allows us to externalise inner

conflicts, to witness them with fresh eyes, and ultimately, to integrate them back into our whole

selves.


Gestalt therapy wasn't born in a sterile clinical setting, but in the crucible of artistic rebellion. Its

founders, Laura and Fritz Perls, were pioneers who challenged the rigid confines of Freudian

psychoanalysis and embraced a more holistic, existential approach. They were artists, philosophers,

and rebels at heart, and their spirit infuses every facet of Gestalt therapy.


It's empowering: Gestalt therapy teaches us to take responsibility for our lives, to be the

authors of our own stories. Its a path towards self-discovery and personal growth, where we

learn to navigate our challenges with awareness and choice.


It's present-focused: In a world obsessed with the past and the future, Gestalt therapy offers

a refreshing anchor in the present moment. It helps us connect with the richness of our

immediate experience, to savour the joy and face the challenges with open eyes and open

hearts.


It's creative: Gestalt therapy is a playground for exploration. It embraces the use of

metaphors, movement, and art to unlock hidden emotions and gain new perspectives. It's a

reminder that healing can be a dance, a journey of self-discovery filled with colour and

creativity.


At Step by Step Counselling College, we believe experiencing Gestalt is a major way of explaining

how it works. Textbooks can only offer a glimpse; the true magic lies in the embodied journey itself.

We embrace the idea of Gestalt experiments, which is why many of these sessions are so scary and

the most exciting to teach.


We use awareness exercises, from mindful breathing to body scans and Gestalt employs various

techniques to sharpen our inner radar and tune into the subtle nuances of our present experience,

as well as dialogues and experiments. Gestalt therapy is a dynamic dance between therapist and

client and through open dialogues and playful experiments, we explore limiting beliefs, uncover

hidden emotions, and discover new ways of being. The best way to teach this is to do it.


Gestalt isn’t just the ‘empty Chair’ technique and isn’t just making stuff up on the spur of the

moment. It is about working with the now and taking an holistic approach. Numerous studies show

that Gestalt therapy offers significant benefits for anxiety, depression, and relationship issues. A

review in Psychology Today highlights its effectiveness in promoting self-awareness, enhancing

communication skills, and empowering clients to take charge of their lives.


Gestalt isn't just a therapy; it's a philosophy, a way of being in the world. It's about reclaiming the

present moment, shedding unnecessary burdens, and rediscovering the vibrant tapestry of our own

existence.


So, are you ready to step into the world of Gestalt? To dance with your experiences, to own your

story and to discover the wholeness that lies within? Contact Step by Step Counselling College today

and let's explore the transformative power of being present, together.


Additional Resources:


 The National Counselling Society: https://www.nationalcounsellingsociety.org/

 Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/

 The Gestalt Centre: https://gestaltcentre.org.uk


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