The word ‘gestalt’ comes from a German word which literally means ‘whole’. The premise of gestalt is that our behaviours, feelings and thoughts, are what makes us human, whole or complete. When we think back to our childhood days, we were able to express our full selves freely and uninhibitedly until our families told us ‘we can’t behave a certain way’ or that ‘we can’t be angry because it is bad’, or ‘it is not right to think those thoughts’, etc., they tell us what we can or cannot think, do, or feel, based on what is socially acceptable. As a result, we start having restrictions on who we are as we begin losing parts of ourselves as we go through life, so that we can fit into moulds that society has created for us.
Gestalt therapists firmly believe that your life experiences are unique and different from everyone else’s, and are very committed in honouring them as your own. They do not want to change you in any way, or make any suggestions about how you can change your life. Instead, their aim is to try and raise your awareness through the use of various creative experiments that arise out of the moment, so that you are equipped with the tools to make better and more informed life choices. More importantly, they feel that what you or society deem as ‘maladaptive behaviours’ are a result of creative adaptations – the means in which you have developed ways that make you feel safe, and were what enabled you to survive in this world. Again, by spontaneously coming up with experiments, gestalt therapists can help you start gaining access to a fuller range of feeling and expressing your emotions, in the hopes of re-integrating the lost parts of yourself, so that you may once again be complete.
Because gestalt therapists work with your emotions, it is possible for a client to experience many different emotions during an hour long therapy session, so don’t be surprised if one minute you’re crying and the next minute you’re laughing uncontrollably!