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What is Gestalt Therapy?

Gestalt therapy is a holistic approach to human functioning that can be applied at any level from a personal life philosophy, to direct application to broader social, political and professional fields of influence. It was originally developed in the early 1950's by a group of avant-garde psychologists, psychiatrists, philosophers and educators, as a reaction against the orthodoxy of psychoanalysis of the time, and as a model of human experience that values authentic living and relationship.

Since then, it has gradually evolved into a dynamic tradition of practice and theory about human experience and behaviour, which in its clinical application values open and respectful dialogue between client and therapist, focuses particular attention on phenomenology as a means of enhancing awareness, and considers the broader field or environmental context in which we live our lives.

The Gestalt Therapy approach encourages an individual's personal growth through the development of self awareness, and self support for appropriate, spontaneous and creative contact with the environment that we live in. It is an anarchist process, in the sense that it does not conform to preset rules and expectations. Gestalt Therapists do not try to adjust people to a certain way of being, living or behaving. They assist their clients to find ways to live personally meaningful lives.

The learning and application of Gestalt Therapy is always experientially based and experimentally orientated. The Gestalt Therapist does not know what is best for the client, but helps the client explore and discover what that might be. Gestalt Therapists work with what is immediately obvious and available in awareness to the client. From there they proceed in small steps using mini-experiments with novel behaviours, in order to expand awareness. In this way, optimal support for creative and adaptive contact with one's environment becomes possible.

With its emphasis on the person-environment interaction, Gestalt Therapy has laid the basis for an understanding of psychotherapy as a "healing through meeting", in which the nature and quality of human contact is paramount. It views authentic, spontaneous and open dialogue, based on adequate awareness, as necessary for developing sustained and nourishing relationships.

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Comprehensive Training Programme in Gestalt Therapy Theory and Practice