What is Gestalt Therapy

Gestalt Therapy is a unique blend of existential, phenomenological (present focused) and process-experiential approaches developed by Dr. Fritz Perls and Dr. Laura Perls. Fritz and Laura emigrated from Germany to South Africa during World War II and finally settled in New York, USA in the 1950’s. In 1951 the major book Gestalt Therapy was authored by Perls, Hefferline and Goodman and the first training group was established in New York.

In the years since the first New York Group was established with Fritz Perls, Laura Perls, Paul Goodman, Isadore From and others, the theory and methodology of Gestalt Therapy has been expanded by numerous individuals, and centres worldwide.

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The Gestalt Approach

The Gestalt approach takes into account the whole individual and the environmental context as inseparable in the treatment of human discomfort. It focuses on the moment-to-moment awareness, living in the present and ownership of our inner and outer responses to the environment.

Gestalt Therapy is a growth oriented and relational approach to assisting people in their development of self-awareness. New options for living a fulfilling and meaningful life are explored in an experiential and relational process.

Gestalt Therapy embodies a holistic perspective, embracing a person’s physical, psychological, intellectual, emotional, interpersonal and spiritual experience.

The aim is to be present in the here and now, to attain full energetic expression in dealing with daily life and be fully who we are in body, mind and spirit.

An increased awareness of contact with others and the environment provides clearer opportunities for individuals to enhance the quality of their relationships and be able to discover new, creative solutions to their wellbeing.

Contemporary Gestalt therapy has moved beyond solely individual application to include couples, families, groups, organisations, communities and ecological considerations. As a relational method many contemporary Gestalt therapists are concerned with developing a sustainable community and fostering responsible relationships with others and the planet.

Ingredients of Gestalt Therapy


Awareness based

Relationally sensitive

Grounded in theory

Here and now in focus

Holistic in situation

These ingredients can be applied in multiple contexts: counselling, psychotherapy, group work, organisational and corporate development, education, environmental work.

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