What is Gestalt Therapy?                                                                                                                      


A frequently asked question is: "what exactly is Gestalt Therapy?" This is too big a subject for this website, but I will try to give you a ( subjective) overview.

Please read 'he or she' and 'him or her' where I write 'he' or 'him'.


Gestalt Therapy was originally developed by Frederick Perls, a German doctor and psychiatrist, who trained under Sigmund Freud at the beginning of the twentieth century. Perls differed with Freud's theory and methodology on several issues and Gestalt Therapy evolved out of these differences.
For the moment I want to limit the discussion to just one of the differences between both types of psychotherapy: the nature of the therapeutic relationship. In other words: the relationship between therapist and client (or, in previous days: patient).

For Freud and many modern psychoanalytic psychotherapists this therapeutic relationship is characterized primarily by the therapist's ongoing interpretations of the client's complaint or symptom. Th is way the therapist seems to know more of his client than te client know of himself.

To Perls this was insufficient. He believed that it was not so much the therapist's interpretations which healed the client, but the actual relationship between therapist and client.† The therapist should not work from an authoritative, interpreting position, but should investigate together with the client those blocks that limit the client's capabilities for growth. To accomplish this, attention should not primarily be directed to questions such as why and when the complaint or problem developed, but first of all to how this complaint or problem influences the clients life in the present moment, here in this therapy room talking to the therapist.
It is not so much the insight into the history of the problem that is the focus of attention but the actual experience in the here and now. This actual experience is what is called awareness in Gestalt Therapy.

To a lot of people, this here and now focus on their experience may be a new and often difficult way of looking at their problem. This also means a focus to the actuale situation of the client and to  his old and present relationships.


One of Gestalt Therapy's theoretical starting points is the idea that people behave according to a contact style: a style which we all developed in the course of our life and which characterizes a specific way of making contact with the outside world as well as with our inner feelings and emotions.  It is our way to live and to survive.

The process of becoming aware of your specific contact style is one of the focal points of any Gestalt Therapy session. The issues and stories the client brings to the therapy room are looked upon in the here and now.† Everything the client relates about problems, conflicts and fears in his everyday life, will sooner or later also occur in the therapeutic relationship. There is no reason to believe that the client is fundamentally different in the therapy room than in any other situation in his life.

TThe Gestalt Therapist won't so much give an interpretation to what he sees or experiences, but will mainly just signal in a non-judgmental way what comes to his awareness in this situation with this client. For this reason during a Gestalt Therapy session, whether individual or in a group context, attention is drawn to any kind of communication, verbal and non-verbal.

It's not so much what is being communicated, but how that is done. Often this method is a new approach to a client;: his problema are translated to the here and now, including his body sensations, his feelings and his experience of his actual situation.

Gestalt therapists state that through this process of gaining awareness the client gradually learns to experience how he behaves and controls his behavior in the here and now. Very often this process of gaining awareness is being accompanied by powerful emotions such as shame, grief, disappointment, anger, as well as joy, relief and pride. Like you may have noticed already: it does not come easy.

Situational therapy

Essential for Gestalttherapy is that we do not focus too strong on the individual, because we think that an individual is connected with his environment. We do not believe that there exists a person as such. One of the first things Perls stressed was that the interplay of the organism and its environment constitutes the psychological situation. So we focus on the interaction of the person and his environment.

Will  this help you?

This question is not easy to answer, since of course this differs for each person depending on many personal factors. That is the reason why I think a trial meeting is essential. You will have the  opportunity to get an impression of who I am and how I work. Together we can decide - preliminarily- whether Gestalt therapy and the way I practise it, can be beneficient for you.