What is the Gestalt Approach to Counselling?
It isn’t really easy to summarize in a few sentences what you can expect in Gestalt counselling. In the end only the experience can lead to understanding.
I’ll try it nevertheless.
You can get counselling individually or in a group setting. I will concentrate on the main aspects of individual counselling sessions.
Let’s imagine it’s your first time with a Gestalt counsellor. There are one or more aspects of your life you aren’t happy with or which even cause you distress. You want to change that and have taken the first step.
Talking with the counsellor, you decide what you want to concentrate on to start with, which of your life situations in particular causes you problems.
It can be beneficial already to have found somebody whom you can trust. Everyone has got some “blind spots” (behaviour patterns you are not aware of). You can’t change behaviour patterns you are not aware of. A Gestalt counsellor not only listens to the content of what you are saying, but in particular how you’re expressing it, paying attention to your voice, facial expression, gestures and your breathing.
In this process you learn to become more aware of chronic behaviour and communication patterns. This gives you the opportunity to experiment with new options in your communication with others and in the way you deal with problems. (I can only change what I’m aware of.) The safe setting of counselling allows you to let go of old patterns of reacting to the world. They were useful, even necessary, at a certain time in your life but now have outlived their usefulness and restrict the quality of your relationships with other people. Through experiencing the emotions connected with those life situations you can let go of them releasing energy for new abilities to lead your life with more choices.
In a nutshell, Gestalt counselling is:
- experiencial, i.e., focussed on the immediate experience in the present (“here-and-now”)
- existential, i.e., seeing the whole person with all facets of being in the world, also taking into account the environmental field
- experimental, i.e., letting the client experiment with new ways of acting in daily life situations
which in turn can enrich his life.