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What is Gestalt Therapy

Gestalt is the German word for “form”, “shape” or “configuration” and refers to a concept of “wholeness”. Gestalt considers three manifestations: the person, his or her environment or context and the relationship between them. In doing so, forms and configurations emerge. For example, seeing music performed live is a different experience to listening to that music recorded, at home.

photo What then is Gestalt therapy?

In Gestalt therapy the whole person and the whole person’s experience is considered relevant: feelings, thoughts, body sensations, intelligence, energy, emotions, imagination, creativity, spirituality, dreams. The therapist focuses on
“here and now” and on what happens moment by moment.

Gestalt’s methodology includes
  • Awareness and presence
  • Dialogue
  • Attention to possibilities
  • Client therapist relationship
  • Creative experimenting
  • Here and now
  • Dream work
  • Transference and counter transference
  • Projective identification


An example of “here and now” is that I might say “What are you doing (or aware of) right now, and how are you doing it?” Paying attention to what is happening brings you in touch with awareness. What follows then is a clearer sense of how / who you are.

Forms or shapes of memories may emerge and you may experience that as “getting in the way” of what is current. These shapes may be “unfinished business” from the past that can be completed. As you experience different aspects of yourself, your awareness of yourself increases.

The Gestalt therapist’s methodology is about enhancing awareness, enabling you to be freer in the world and in your relationships.

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Example of a session where my client and I explore

C has brought his drawing book. He wants to show me what he has drawn because the drawings have in them what he tells me of himself and his life in sessions, he says. I look at the first drawing he wants me to look at. As I am looking, he tells me about the hands in the drawing. I see two holding hands; I also see that C, in this moment, is holding his own two hands. I ask what his hands are doing. He and I fully explore the meaning of his holding hands and C gets in touch with feelings of being left.

In subsequent sessions C and I continue to explore and make room for C’s strong feelings when a significant person in his life goes away. Together we have made connections between these feelings and often being left as a young child. This helps him to make sense of his feelings and develop insights and new ways of being in current relationships.

As the therapy progresses, C and I also explore what happens in the therapeutic relationship. That helps further with gaining insights and becoming aware of influences such as fears and hopes on present relationships.

 

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