Hi, I am Raymond. I picked up psychology after my banking career as a personal interest.
In this article, I focus on how Gestalt Therapy utilizes holistic therapeutic approaches. Gestalt therapy is a psychotherapeutic movement that originated in the 1940s. It aimed to offer an alternative or complement to approaches such as behavioral therapy, client-focused psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, and systemic therapy.
One of the distinguishing principles of Gestalt Therapy is its holistic perspective: a human being is unified as body and mind.
Gestalt therapy is an effective therapy for people experiencing mental health problems related to themselves and their environment. Examples include symptoms of a depressive nature, burnout, or identity issues. Gestalt is perfectly suited for anyone who is interested in him- or herself and wants to make more of their life. Gestalt focuses on restoring contact with yourself and your surroundings. The point is that you get a sense of what is blocking you. An essential part of Gestalt Therapy is detecting "unfinished business."
The holistic approach assumes that humans should be approached as a whole. A person is a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual unity. This means that if one of these areas creates a disturbance it will affect the other areas. Healing this disturbance would therefore have to involve all areas of healing.
Gestalt promotes the idea that individual elements only become meaningful within the whole context. Please take a look at the example below and you will see what this means. The B and the 13 are identical, but only have meaning within the context of the whole.
We live in a house of mirrors and think we are looking out the windows.
— Fritz Perls
How Holistic Approaches and Gestalt Therapy Fit Together
The basic foundation of Gestalt therapy lies in three areas: humanistic, existentialist, and phenomenological components. How holistic approaches and Gestalt therapy fit together is based on working with an individual as a whole; that is, his or her physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, historical, and cultural experiences.
All of these areas cannot be separated as they are part of the individual's life experience, and utilizing Gestalt therapy in this way will lead to more awareness, responsibility, and fulfillment in the life of the individual undergoing this therapy.
Let's take a look at the components of Gestalt therapy in order to understand their meaning and why they are so effective when used in combination with a holistic approach.
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- The humanistic component allows for a dialogue with the therapist that is meaningful and proactive.
- The existentialist component allows for focus on the here and now - that the individual is solely responsible for his or her own fate.
- The phenomenological component is used to focus on the individual's perceived view of reality. It allows for increased awareness of self and the relationship with others.
The holistic approach is a combination of the individual, family, and culture. Thus, it is the whole, not specific, individual parts which is explored within the present, past, and future. Finding new ways to become more aware through learning and experimentation is the key to successful Gestalt therapy.
Indeed, the holistic approach is the embodiment of Gestalt therapy. It is based on the assertion that the whole is more important than the sum of the individual parts, and all parts are related. It is this principal approach that is explored: the individual's need to understand the many complexities that arise from one's background, religion, feelings, emotions, family, and physical and psychological complexities.
Our dependency makes slaves out of us, especially if this dependency is a dependency of our self-esteem. If you need encouragement, praise, pats on the back from everybody, then you make everybody your judge.
— Fritz Perls
Fritz Perls: Gestalt Therapy
In an excerpt from the book "Gestalt Therapy: Excitement and Growth in the Human Personality", Gestalt outlook is the original, undistorted, natural approach to life, to man's and woman's thinking, acting, feeling with the criteria of therapeutic progress being measured against the patient's own awareness of heightened vitality and more effective functioning.
Thus, holistic approaches and Gestalt therapy fit together perfectly. This form of therapy is not viewed as a cure-all, but offers an individual the tools to encounter any situation and deal with it successfully.
Finally, what separates the holistic approach and Gestalt therapy from other forms of psychotherapy is that each individual is seen as unique. An honest and open dialogue that reflects the views of the therapist as well as the patient is used to create acute awareness through interaction, understanding, and self-discovery.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Ruby Jackson on April 08, 2014:
I have hear about it but that is as far as my knowledge goes. Thanks for elaborating on the topic.