Life Meaning and Vital Creative Aliveness:
Maturity and Creative Aliveness
Excitement ~ Awareness ~ Contact ~ Potential ~ Actualization
An Experiential, Holistic Approach to Human Change
Gestalt Therapy is an existential and experiential psychotherapy that focuses on the individual’s experience in the present moment, the therapist-client relationship, and the environmental or social contexts in which these things take place. While psychotherapy emphasizes the self-regulating adjustments people make through the process of psychotherapy, Gestalt Therapy emphasizes personal responsibility for living the vital and fulfilling life.
Enhancing Awareness of the Here and Now
Gestalt therapy helps enhance awareness. We learn that perceiving, feeling, and acting are nuances of our habitual projection; that is, we interpret, explain, and judge our experience and use old “story lines” to govern our actions. This distinction between direct experience and indirect or secondary interpretation is developed in the process of this type of focused therapy. The client learns to become “increasingly aware” of what they are actually experiencing and doing in the “here and now” and the interpretation they are giving to what is happening.
For example, if three people perceive a tightening in the stomach, they could interpret this tightening in three different ways, such as: “I’m hungry,” “Something bad is about to happen,” and “I must have made a mistake.” Each interpretation is informed by the person’s past experience when the stomach tightened, which may or may not be valid in the present moment.
By becoming aware of the connection between what is happening and our interpretation of what is happening, people can develop the ability to adapt to their present circumstances without so much interference from the conditionings of the past. People are striving to adapt — and grow psychologically competent!
Unfinished Life Business: Undigested Experience
This type of treatment might answer a client’s yearning to become more “fully and creatively alive” through enhanced awareness of just how we work psychologically. Through this process we can free ourselves from historical blocks and “unfinished business” or “undigested experience” that may diminish human fulfillment and psychological growth.
“The I -Thou Relationship” : Personal Responsibility for Action
Gestalt Therapy, which was co-founded by Fritz Perls, Laura Perls and Paul Goodman in the 1940s–1950s, has had a variety of psychological and philosophical influences, and in addition was a response to the social forces or zeitgeist of its day. It is a therapeutic approach that is holistic (mind/body/culture), present-centered, and related to existential therapy in its emphasis on personal responsibility for action, and on the valuing of the “I-thou” relationship in the therapeutic relationship. In fact, its creators considered calling it existential-phenomenological therapy. “The I and thou in the Here and Now,” was one therapist’s semi-humorous mantra.
The Human Change Paradox: Acceptance of What Is
In what has now become a classic of the professional literature, Arnold Beisser (1970) described gestalt’s paradoxical theory of change. The paradox is that the more one attempts to be who one is not, the more one remains the same (Yontef, 2005). Conversely, when people identify with their current identity and circumstance, the conditions of wholeness (“full psychological presence”) and growth support adaptive change. Put another way, change comes about as a result of “full acceptance of what is, rather than a striving to be different” (Houston, 2003).
Need Help Finding the Right Therapist, Counselor or Psychologist in Seattle?
Dr. Patrick J. Hart
Counseling for Creative Aliveness
Evaluation and Treatment Matching:
I maintain an extensive referral base to practitioners the work with problems that are beyond the scope of my practice, providing therapy and treatment matching to qualified clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, psychotherapists and mental health counselors. I also keep a referral base of medical and naturopathic physicians, chiropractors, holistic health practitioners, and massage therapist to help people restore their physical and mental health and can make referrals throughout Washington State to practitioners in Seattle, Bellvue, Mercer Island, Bellingham, Olympia Tacoma and Yakima. I am able to provide matching for addiction recovery centers or “rehabilitation” programs throughout the nation.
Seattle Gestalt Therapist: Mental Health Counselor
The Association for the Advancement of Gestalt Therapy