What is Gestalt Therapy?
Gestalt is a German word without any equivalent English translation but can mean “wholeness” and as a therapy was principally developed by Frederick and Laura Perls starting in the years between the two World Wars. They were subjected to a great deal of persecution and eventually fled the Germany and finally settled in America.
Gestalt Therapy seems to be particularly helpful with clients who find it difficult to express their emotions and can be quite insular in character. During therapy clients are encouraged to bring out their hidden feelings and emotions. Much use is made of a technique called the “open chair technique”. This entails a client sitting opposite an empty chair, and then mentally places into that chair someone significant who has caused them either pain or trouble. The client then tells the person in the empty chair what they have been unable to express before. This can give rise to very emotional sessions and clients need to be sure that the therapist is experienced in using this powerful therapy.