This form of psychotherapy has among its roots Gestalt Psychology (a psychology of perception), Existential philosophy, psychoanalysis and bodywork. It was launched in 1952 via a book ‘Gestalt Therapy – Excitement and Growth in the Human Personality’ by Perls, Hefferline and Goodman. It is often associated with Fritz Perls although in reality it was developed by a group of people including his wife Laura.
Gestalt is a practical psychotherapy, the therapist works with the client to be aware of their responses in the here and now. Attention is paid to those times when this might prove difficult, and often slowing down in this way leads to useful insights. As the person talks and explores their personal material, they are encouraged to notice their physical and emotional responses. In addition exploration of communication and contact are important. Unfinished past experiences are seen to repeat themselves in patterns that are happening now which may be causing difficulty. Ultimately, working in this way can bring an increased self-awareness and liveliness of response.
Gestalt therapy does not involve lying on a couch and is practised both as an individual and group therapy. It is communicative, the therapist is not a blank screen and uses their own experience in the session to inform the therapy work. While different therapists will have different styles all will be based on tracking experience in the here and now, including the relationship between client and therapist. Where appropriate exercises may be suggested, which aim to explore new ways of being and of venturing into areas that are difficult for someone to go to.
Gestalt is practised both as an individual and group therapy. Groups in general cost less than individual and vary in length from a couple of hours to weekend workshops, or even longer residentials. They offer the opportunity to explore relationships and share experiences within a safe environment. Typically groups will cost £15 - £25 for three hours. Individual therapy is usually conducted in weekly 50 minute or 1 hour sessions and will cost between £30 - £50 per hour. Individual sessions are usually weekly. There are on going groups, weekends and individual one to one Gestalt therapists practicing throughout the UK.