In this holistic approach the psychotherapist works on the premise that the client holds the key to resolving their issue, although this is often out of their awareness. The aim is therefore to foster greater awareness of emotions, thoughts and behaviours as well as of the intelligence of the body. The psychotherapist views unhelpful behaviours, emotions and patterns as originally stemming from a brave and creative attempt to manage a challenging past environmental factor . Whilst this way of being was helpful at the time, now it may be redundant, destructive or rigid. By recognising and demonstrating compassion for this creative part of you, the therapist works with your energy, rather than against it, facilitating you to explore and experiment with new ways of expressing yourself so that you feel more confident, empowered and capable.
Often difficulties arise from early wounds encountered in relationship with others. These impact our current connections. A Gestalt relational psychotherapist is a safe and trusted person to explore these with. They work collaboratively with you to investigate and become aware of how these patterns occur and how you can change them. This is done through a process of dialogue in a non-judgemental environment where you set the pace.
Numerous research studies (Saadati & Lashani, 2013; Man Leung, Ki Leung, and Tuen Ng, 2013; Kelly and Howie, 2011) have shown the efficacy of Gestalt Therapy in improving a sense of self-agency and efficacy, ability to think creatively and envisage hitherto unseen possibilities for positive changes to behaviour or perception, decreased anxiety, depression and increased relational skills.
Gestalt psychotherapy can be particularly helpful for those who struggle to know what they need and want and consequently have dependent relationships or exert too much energy caring for others. It is also useful for individuals who have a very cognitive approach to life yet have physical aches and pains that may have a psychosomatic element. Very rational, solutions-focussed individuals who are experiencing emotions that they cannot make sense of or control benefit from Gestalt therapy. Lastly, individuals who struggle with one-to-one and group relations, experiencing social anxiety, low self-esteem, co-dependent relationships, or a lack of relationships also benefit.
People find that this type of therapy helps them to:
Relational Gestalt psychotherapy is suitable for a wide range of people who are curious to understand themselves better and how they shape their living situation and relationships, facilitated by their therapist. Whilst Gestalt psychotherapists take seriously any prior clinical diagnosis you have, the present-centred focus of the work and the belief in the ability of an individual to change means they ‘bracket’ labels and relate to you as they experience you in the session, whilst holding in mind their clinical training. Therefore they are well suited to work with those having a Borderline Personality Disorder or Bipolar Disorder, those suffering from anxiety, depression and low self-esteem, as well as individuals wanting to find their vocation or simply work on a self-development issue.
Gestalt psychotherapy works on a mid to long-term basis. Should you wish for a shorter time period then Gestalt counselling can help.
Alexandra Schlotterbeck trained for six years at the Gestalt Centre, London which is affiliated to London Metropolitan University. She has a PGCert, a PGDip and an MA in Gestalt Therapy Theory Studies as well as an Advanced Professional Diploma. As well as being an accredited UKCP one-to-one psychotherapist she has a unique training as a group process psychotherapist. She is also a board member, process group facilitator and newsletter editor for the Association for the Advancement of Gestalt Therapy. She combines care and sensitivity with gentle challenge and perceptiveness to guide you towards making the changes you require. She is happy to answer your questions on 0207 118 0407.
Kelly, T. & Howie, L. (2011) Exploring the influence of gestalt therapy training on psychiatric nurse practice: stories from the field. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 20, 296–304. doi: 10.1111/j.1447-0349.2010.00729.x
Saadati, H. & Lashani, , L. (2013) Effectiveness of gestalt therapy on self-efficacy of divorced women. Procedia–Social and Behavioral Sciences, 84, 1171-1174.
Man Leung, G. S., Ki Leung, T. Y., Tuen Ng, M. L. (2013) An outcome study of gestalt-oriented growth workshops. International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 63(1), 117-125.