What is Gestalt Therapy? (The Pros and Cons)
Have you ever seen a light begin flashing in your car - but had no idea what it’s trying to tell you? Is your engine about to shut off, or is your brake system failing?
You can’t fix a problem if you don’t know it’s happening - but Gestalt therapy is here to help you find the awareness you’ve been craving.
Here at KMA Therapy, we know how stressful it can feel to start therapy. Between finding a therapist and exploring different types of therapy, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. For over 14 years, we’ve made it easier for our clients and community to access the care they need - and understand what they’re signing up for.
After reading this article, you’ll know what Gestalt therapy is, its pros and cons, and alternatives to consider.
What is Gestalt Therapy?
Gestalt therapy is a humanistic, existential approach to therapy that focuses on helping you develop awareness as a whole person. Rather than trying to ignore your problems, Gestalt therapy encourages you to become aware of them in order to find meaningful solutions.
Gestalt therapy techniques are often used in:
- Anxiety counselling
- Depression therapy
- Family and couples counselling
What Happens During Gestalt Therapy?
During Gestalt Therapy, your therapist will create a trusting relationship to help you understand how you’re reacting to your environment and relationships.
Your therapist will focus on six components throughout your therapy journey.
The six components of Gestalt therapy are:
- The experiment
- The here and now
- The authentic encounter
- Process-oriented diagnosis
- The continuum of experience
- The paradoxical theory of change
The experiment refers to putting things into action rather than only talking about them - giving you a way to try things immediately rather than only thinking about them.
The here and now encourages you to think about the present moment instead of worrying about the future or focusing on the past.
The authentic encounter highlights the importance of a genuine relationship with your therapist, meaning that your therapist understands the importance of human connection (without crossing therapeutic boundaries).
Process-oriented diagnosis doesn’t necessarily mean receiving a clinical diagnosis of mental illness - it refers to your therapist’s way of analyzing the strengths and weaknesses in the way you’re currently processing your life and recommending other options to you.
The continuum of experience centers on the idea that we all do the best we can when presented with a difficult situation. It explores how you feel, react, and reflect on a given situation.
The paradoxical theory of change centers around the idea of awareness of a problem. When you’re facing a problem, ignoring it won’t make it go away - instead, you need to become fully aware of the problem in order to resolve it.
Pros of Gestalt Therapy
Gestalt therapy is a flexible and adaptable form of therapy that can help you learn how to live in the present moment.
Gestalt therapy can be a great choice if you:
- Want to improve your self-awareness and self-confidence
- Want more coping skills to deal with stressful situations
- Want to understand your needs and responses
Cons of Gestalt Therapy
While Gestalt therapy has a strong focus on the present, it doesn’t allow for a deep exploration of your past.
Gestalt therapy may not be the right choice if:
- You’re looking for a more traditional, structured form of therapy
- You’re looking for treatment for a specific issue (i.e. panic attacks)
- You’re interested in a less-intensive or online form of therapy (Gestalt therapy often focuses on body language, which can be difficult in an online environment)
What are Alternatives to Gestalt Therapy?
After learning about the pros and cons of Gestalt therapy, you may be interested in learning about other options.
Alternatives to Gestalt therapy include:
Existential Therapy and Person-Centered Therapy allow you to have more flexibility when exploring how your past experiences and relationships have impacted you, while CBT provides a structured therapy experience that allows you to find clear solutions to the problems you’re facing.
Next Steps for Beginning Therapy
After reading this article, you know what Gestalt therapy is, it’s pros and cons, and alternatives to Gestalt therapy.
Here at KMA Therapy, we know that deciding what form of therapy to seek out can be overwhelming. We offer personalized Introductory Sessions to match you with your ideal therapist and learn what type of therapy will be the best for you.
If you’re not yet ready to book an appointment, check out these articles to keep learning: