A question I am often asked is what is Gestalt Therapy?

Let’s start with what the word Gestalt means.

An organized whole that is perceived as more than the sum of its parts. In our therapeutic practice we use a method/model that allows people to explore all aspects of their parts. This concept is global for us. We are all part of this whole organic organism we call earth. We are just parts of the larger whole and when we can explore this, we can begin to see the connections and this viewpoint allows us to begin to reconnect to our own parts and the parts of the world we are separate from.


Some people have said….

“I remember hearing about gestalt in school, isn’t it where you put 2 chairs in the room and get people to talk to themselves?” I smile and say “well……that is one experiment that is popular with us gestalt therapists”.

Gestalt therapy is so much more than it’s identification with one experiment.

As a gestalt therapist I do love the experiment. Not only do I love the experiment, I hold deeply rooted beliefs that life is just one big experimental exploration.

When I began my journey down the road to becoming, Gestalt Theory spoke to me. Like many who identify with their beliefs, Gestalt was “calling” me. I had met several people who had taken the training and something was different about them. They were showing up……..I mean really showing up, they knew how to stay present with me. I was drawn in.

the time is now phrase handwritten on chalkboard with vintage precise stopwatch used instead of O

The Contact Boundary

In gestalt theory we believe there is an invisible boundary between us and everything on the planet for that matter. This boundary is where we meet each other. We can not see it with our eyes, but we sure do feel it.

We call it the “contact” boundary.

The space between us has a spot where we meet. You know when you have reached it because it is where you begin and I end. Yeah I know it sounds funny, but just think or feel about it.

It is this boundary where all the work of our life happens. Where our relationships happen. this place is where our triggers live, and where our fears show up. Where love grows, and connection is experienced. The boundary is where we also work issues out with each other.

Here are some of the basics of what I have learned

  • Everyone and everything is just a reflection of information for me

  • The parts of you that irritate me are only parts of myself I am refusing to see

  • We all show up at the boundary in neurotic ways

  • The boundary scares us

  • We like to pretend the boundary isn’t there

  • Life is paradox

  • Polarities are part of the drama of our lives

  • Experiments help us gain insight

  • There are similarities in the ways that we show up at the boundary

  • Be here and now……

  • The past informs the future excites, we get attached to both of these and suffering ensues when we do this

I work in the paradoxical theory of change

Gestalt’s theory of change is known as “the paradoxical theory of change” because it is based on the paradoxical premise that people change by becoming more fully themselves. So often people are trying to make themselves be something or someone they are not. Change occurs when one becomes what they are.

I believe, people change when they give up trying or struggling to be what they would like to become; when they allow themselves to be currently what they are NOW at this moment in time; and when they become fully aware of who or what that is.

Figure Ground

Awareness is a key. Nowness is a key. Isness is a key.

Figure-ground perception refers to the tendency of the visual system to simplify a scene into the main object that we are looking at (the figure) and everything else that forms the background (or ground).

Using figure ground is the dance of awareness.

Our brains can only focus on one thing at a time. When we do this everything else goes into the background.

Our brains take an experience and that experience become a focal point of our lives. We make it figural. When we do this we lose the perception of everything else that was/is the background.

To play with this all you have to do is stare at one thing and notice that the longer you stare, the cloudier everything becomes around you…..that is background and what you are focussing on becomes figural.

When we make something in the present moment figural we can become more aware in the moment. Using figure/ground practice allows you to shift with each passing moment vs making each moment into something. This practice allows you to stop labelling or placing meaning on everything.

This practice can also be referred to as mindfulness.

The Contact Cycle

For a deep dive into understanding the experiential cycle here is a link Gestalt Cycle

When I am exploring with someone, what I am thinking and feeling into is where they are in the contact cycle and how I can support them in moving through.

In gestalt theory, every interaction we have with our environment/experience is putting us somewhere in this process. We are in the beginning of the cycle, caught in the cycle or trying to complete the cycle. Gestalt therapy helps us to move through the cycle so we can come to completion and “withdrawal” or in other words “let go” of the energy we are holding onto in the unfinished business of the gestalt.

The cycle is the interaction between our needs and the needs of others.

There is a lot to be “explored” and “experienced” from choosing a gestalt therapist/therapy approach to exploring your experiences of the world. Above I have given you just a morsel of what we do here at Energy Tap.

In this writing I wanted to give everyone a brief outline of what the gestalt approach is. There are many models and pathways to self exploration and we all need to find the models and theories that resonate with us. I hope you found some of this info helpful and useful. Click on the links if you want more info.

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