Gestalt Therapy – Concepts of Self-awareness

     Gestalt therapy uses an existential approach and considers a clients “here and now.” The initial goal for a client is to gain awareness of what they are experiencing and doing at that time in their life. This type of therapy encourages the client to directly experience a situation rather than talk about it. For example, if they experienced childhood trauma, they will be encouraged to become the hurt child rather than just talk about it. Therefore the therapists goal is to assist their self-awareness of what they are doing and how they are doing it.

     This awareness includes insight, self-acceptance, knowledge of ones environment, a responsibility for choices and an understanding of the concept of change. For the client – they will experience a discovery – they will realize new things about themselves, see old situations in a new light and look differently at significant others. As well, they will recognize that they have a choice in their lives and that they may behave differently, influence their own environment, deal with daily surprises and have the confidence to improve and improvise.

     To succeed in bringing the client this awareness, experiments are used. The Internal Dialogue experiment helps the client identify struggles in their lives for control. In order to do so they role play the conflicts they experience – being both the controlled and the controller at the same time. The Making the Rounds experiment helps a person be able to make confrontations, take risks, disclose themselves and try new behaviours to grow and change. To do so, the client must go around a group of people and speak to each of them or do something with each of them. In the Reversal Technique experiment, the client is asked to role play the opposite symptoms and behaviours from what they are suffering. This helps the client to accept the personal attributes that they have tried to deny.

     The Rehearsal exercise involves behavioural rehearsal where the client role plays a new behaviour that they have learned with a person or people in their environment. This is done to reduce stage fright, anxiety or fear that may be felt if they feel they are not performing their new behaviour correctly. This encourages spontaneity and a willingness to experiment with new behaviours. The Exaggeration exercise consists of exaggerating a movement or gesture repeatedly to intensify feelings attached to behaviour to make inner meanings clearer. For example – they will be asked to make a frown or a facial grimace. The last experiment – Staying with the Feelings – keeps the client from escaping from fearful stimuli and avoiding unpleasant feelings. They are encouraged to go deeper into feelings of behaviour which they wish to avoid. This helps to make way for new levels of growth, but it also takes courage and pain.

Related Links

Counseling Psychology
Adlerian Therapy
Existential Therapy
Person Centre Therapy
Reality Therapy
Behavioural Therapy
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Feminist Therapy
Family Systems Therapy
Clinical Psychology