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Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy

Norwati Mansor Gestalt Therapy


What key concepts do you know in terms of Gestalt therapy?

View of Human Nature

Self-reliance and reintegration Dialogue b/w client and therapist (therapist has no agenda Spontaneous; here and now experience Human nature is rooted in existential philosophy, phenomenology, and field theory Individuals have the capacity to self-regulate in their environment The process of reowning parts of oneself that have been disowned

The Now

Existential & Phenomenological it is grounded in the clients here and now Initial goal is for clients to gain awareness of what they are experiencing and doing now

Promotes direct experiencing rather than the abstractness of talking about situations Rather than talk about a childhood trauma the client is encouraged to become the hurt child

The Now

Ask what and how instead of why Our power is in the present

Nothing exists except the now The past is gone and the future has not yet arrived They may focus on their past mistakes or engage in endless resolutions and plans for the future

For many people, the power of the present is lost

Unfinished Business

Feelings about the past are unexpressed

These feelings are associated with distinct memories and fantasies Feelings not fully experienced linger in the background and interfere with effective contact Pay attention on the bodily experience because if feelings are unexpressed they tend to result in physical symptom Preoccupation, compulsive behavior, wariness oppressive energy and self-defeating behavior Solution: get in touch with the stuck point.


Contact and Resistances to Contact

CONTACT interacting with nature and with other people without losing ones individuality

Contact (connect) and Withdrawal (separate)

RESISTANCE TO CONTACT the defenses we develop to prevent us from experiencing the present fully

Five major channels of resistance: Introjection Deflection Projection Confluence Retroflection

Contact and Resistances to Contact

Introjection: uncritically accept others belief and standards without thinking whether they are congruent with who we are Projection: the reverse of introjection; we disown certain aspect of ourselves by assigning them to the environment Retroflection: turning back to ourselves what we would like to do to someone else

Directing aggression inward that we are fearful to directing toward others.

Contact and Resistances to Contact

Deflection: A way of avoiding contact and awareness by being vague or indirect.

e.g., overuse of humor

Confluence: less differentiation between the self and the environment.

e.g., a need to be accepted---to stay safe by going alone with other and not expressing ones true feeling and opinions.

Clients are encouraged to become increasingly aware of their dominant style of blocking contact


Please provide examples for each five resistance to contact?

Energy and blocks to energy

Pay attention to where energy is located, how it is used, and how it can be blocked Blocked energy (resistance):

Tension some part of the body; numbing feelings, looking away from people when speaking, speaking with a restricted voice

Recognize how their resistance is being expressed in their body Exaggerate their tension and tightness in order to discover themselves

Therapeutic Goals

Increasing Awareness and greater choice Awareness includes knowing the environment, knowing oneself, accepting oneself, and being able to make contact.

Stay with their awareness, unfinished business will emerge.

Therapists function and Role

Increase clients awareness Pay attention to the present moment Pay attention to clients body language, nonverbal language, and inconsistence b/w verbal and nonverbal message (e.g., anger and smile) I message

Clients Experience in Therapy

Therapist no interpretation Client making their own interpretation Three-stage (Polster, 1987)

Discovery (increasing awareness) Accommodation (recognizing that they have a choice) Assimilation (influencing their environment)

Relationship Between Therapist and Client

The quality of therapist-client relationship Therapists knowing themselves Therapists share their experience to clients in the here-and-now Therapist Use of self in therapy

Therapeutic techniques and procedures

The experiential work

Use experiential work in therapy to work through the stuck points and get new insights Get permission from clients Be sensitive to the cultural difference (e.g., Asian cultural value: emotional control) Respect resistance (e.g., express emotionsfear of lose control, could not stop, or weakness)

Preparing client for experiential work

Therapeutic techniques and procedures

Increase awareness about the incongruence between mind and body (verbal and nonverbal expression) The internal dialogue exercise Making the rounds Rehearsal exercise Exaggeration exercise Staying with the feeling The Gestalt approach to dream work

Therapeutic techniques and procedures

The internal dialogue exercise

Top dog (critical parent) and underdog (victim) Empty-chair (two sides of themselves) Go around to each person and say What makes it hard for me trust you is Reverse the typical style (e.g., behave as negative as possible)

Making the rounds

Rehearsal exercise

Therapeutic techniques and procedures

Rehearsal exercise

May get stuck when rehearsing silently or internally Share the rehearsals out load with a therapist Exaggerate gesture or movement, which usually intensified the feelings attached to the behavior and makes the inner meaning clearer. Go deeper into the feelings they wish to avoid

Exaggeration exercise

Staying with the feeling

Therapeutic techniques and procedures

The Gestalt approach to dream work

Not interpret or analyze dreams Bring dream back to life as though they were happening now The dream is acted out in the present to become different parts of the dream Projection: every person or object in the dream represents a projected aspect of the dreamer. Royal road to integration Dreams serve as an excellent way to discover personality No remember-refuse to face what it is at that time

From a multicultural perspective

Contributions Work with clients from their cultural perspectives Limitations Focus on affect
Asian cultural value: emotional control Prohibiting to directly express the negative feelings to their parents.

Summary and Evaluation


Present-centered awareness Pay attention on verbal and nonverbal cures Bring conflicts or struggles to actually experience their conflict and struggles Focus on growth and enhancement See each aspect of a dream as a projection of themselves Increase awareness of what is Empirical validation for the effectiveness

Summary and Evaluation

Limitations Ineffective therapists may manipulate the clients with powerful experiential work Some people may need psychoeducation