Gestalt therapy focuses on the present moment of every psychotherapy session. Therapeutic change occurs by paying close attention to this present moment. That is, as much as possible, focus is on developing process of experience and how, not why, it is sensed, felt, and even thought-through. The influence of the past is experienced within the present. Repeating patterns or gestalts often lead to distress, loneliness, unhappiness, anxiety, confusion, depression, and so on. For example, unaware feelings about previous relationships can lead to repeating the same unsatisfying patterns in a new relationship. When these feelings become aware, a person is able to choose how to act rather than be caught in unaware repetitive patterns. Even when paying the strictest attention to the present, gestalt therapy never ignores a person’s wider social context – family, friends, work situation. Gestalt therapy understands that the past and the future are part of any present. We live in the shadow of what was and within an expectation of what will be. A more complete and detailed description of gestalt therapy is in the section of my website for clinical training.
We are all connected to one another in some way. Human beings are always in relationships with others. Therapy occurs in the context of the therapy relationship. Contemporary gestalt therapy stresses the supportive, welcoming, yet direct role of the therapist in the two-person process of psychotherapy. The therapist is a part of the process, not merely a by-standing expert observing the process and making suggestions. The therapist’s support is interactive and never passive. Support is concrete and present but never intrusive or overwhelming.
The gestalt therapy has a humanistic lens through which a patient is seen not as person with a diagnostic label and mental disease to be cured, but a person suffering in a particular way through is a life situation. By focusing on experience, the implicit creativity in each person is freed so each person becomes what gestalt therapy calls “an artist of life” Gestalt therapy, then, is an aware process of discovery and meaning making in which a person is freed to live with less distress and more choicefulnes.