By Urja Refalo
Psychotherapist / Counsellor
What is Gestalt?
Gestalt is a German word which when roughly translated means ‘whole’. Gestalt therapy has a broad, deep philosophical and theoretical foundation. What stands out for me having been a client for many years of Gestalt therapy is that I’ve felt respected, treated as an equal and empowered to be the expert of my own life by the various therapists I’ve worked with. I have felt well supported to explore the different aspects of my mind, body and spirit and at times this has created significant changes. The therapist has been solidly present and authentic, has given space for me to tell my story and supported my exploration. By engaging with the therapist in a way and style, that I had not known previously, I have experienced myself as fuller, more whole; have felt recognised, acknowledged and significant.
Gestalt therapy is deeply embedded in the present moment, in the here and now. By being in the past, or so far ahead in the future we can miss the present moment of contacting and connecting with others and our surroundings, leading to isolation and a myriad of difficult psychological experiences. Increasing awareness of how our past is impacting on our mind and body in the present moment supports our ability to live life in the here and now. What I know from my own journey and working with lots of people is that staying unaware of how we are living our lives can often make it difficult to see our potential and what possibilities lay ahead of us. What we do instead is hold onto an old version of ourselves, one that may not work for us anymore but we don’t know what to do with it.
When we become aware of our thoughts, what our body is saying, our behaviours, what we say to ourselves and our use of language and we have good support, change is inevitable. Awareness of where we are, what we do, and how we do it is what brings about change. By becoming more aware of how we do life and relationships, we can become mentally clear and free from negative habitual thinking. We open to experience reintegration, greater life force and an experience of being whole again, a sense of coming home to yourself.
Gestalt therapy offers a way of exploring the various parts of ourselves that we often keep hidden, either out of shame, fear or anxiety. By finding gentle and supported ways to express ourselves more fully, in all our shades, we can make a space for these parts of ourselves to exist more harmoniously. In Gestalt therapy, your mental, spiritual and physical experiences are given space and by experimenting together we gain more awareness of your patterns and new opportunities follow to live differently, with more choice, more in line with your authentic self.
In short, Gestalt Therapy is profound, authentic, powerful, supportive and perfect for all issues and experiences, ranging from relationship problems to stress management as well as all mental health issues inc. depression, PTSD, trauma; loss, grief and personal growth. I work with couples and individuals.
(I’d like to acknowledge Tracy Kavessy-Bell for her inspiring words www.thrivingsolo.com.au)
These blogs have been authored by individual therapists, students and interns practicing at Harbour Therapy Clinic in Coffs Harbour, Australia.