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Therapy Skills: Gestalt

  1. Below are a group of techniques that can be roughly grouped as Gestalt after Fritz Perls, who originated the term in the 1960's.
  2. This means that every client statement should be: 'now' focussed, first person ('I am' statements) and body focussed. Statements to 'other parts' are now focussed, second person ('you are' statements) with reference still to their own body.
  3. Although listed simply they are quite sophisticated techniques, don't feel discouraged if they are difficult at first. (Main mistakes novices make is forgetting emphases in 2. above.)
  4. This is a listing of options in class time may permit modelling all of them but you should find that an intuitive approach to using them will work quite well. In themselves they are not complex once you gain the overall 'gestalt' approach.
Outer focus

Active—use of 2 Chairs
  1. Chair vacant—dialogue with part or person or symbol
  2. Take the place of the person or part yourself, as therapist & respond intuitively to clients needs
  3. Directors chair, both of you stand and objectify the situation: "what's happening with the client here, when she talks to the psychologist over here"
  4. Stand by side of chairs progressively step the parts together until there is internal synthesis (Synthesis Walk)
Active—use of dynamic open room space
  1. Play out part externally but with movement action and quite good use of kinaesthetic body information
  2. Step parts or 'people' together or play out little experiments and intuitively bring together, like 4 above
  3. Play out dynamics using other people including client and therapist, psychodrama style
Inner focus

Passive—hypnoidal techniques
  1. Symbol from dream, person to close eyes and imagine themselves as the symbol, see dream-work h/o
  2. Create symbol that will fit an intuitive need for client e.g. a shield, or person behind a door
  3. A mood/part or sensation in body (e.g. knots in stomach) can be used to imagine the person is that part and 'speak internally'
  4. Bring in 'magical strangers' or anything that will fit a need as in 'Magic circle technique' (see later)
  5. Use NLP dialogue, "is the part willing to communicate etc"
  6. Use 5 minute exercise, client just reports feelings only, with one word feeling statements. (See Body Tracking section)