About CRC Health Find Treatment Contact Us

Gestalt Therapy What Is It?

Gestalt Therapy, which was established in the 1940s, is a form of experiential psychotherapy  in which the patient is encouraged to become aware of his/her emotions as they exist in the present moment.  Gestalt therapy is comprised of principles and elements from a variety of therapeutic philosophies.

Unlike forms of psychotherapy that address the patient’s past, gestalt therapy is focused on the patient as he/she exists in the present moment. Gestalt therapy does not ignore the patient’s past, but gestalt therapists help patients view their past experiences through the lens of how these experiences are affecting them in the present.

The word “gestalt” can be defined as “unified whole,” which is consistent with gestalt therapy’s focus on placing patient history in the context of how prior experiences have contributed to the person’s  present psychological state.

Generally speaking, the overall purpose of gestalt therapy is to help the gestalt therapy patient develop an awareness of his/her thoughts, emotions, and perceptions, and understand how these internal dialogues and processes impact his/her actions and behaviors.

What are the Benefits of Gestalt Therapy?

As indicated above, the primary benefit of gestalt therapy is that it promotes a focus on the present and an awareness of the mental and emotional processes that impact one’s decisions, actions, and behaviors. Another way of putting this is that gestalt therapy helps patients develop the ability to conduct “real time” monitoring of their thoughts and actions — keeping them in the present and encouraging them to understand what they are thinking and doing.

These skills allow gestalt therapy patients to experience a greater sense of freedom, control and serenity. Also, effective gestalt therapy leads to a transition from a behavior pattern of blind reaction to a healthier and more productive system of conscious and thoughtful action.

What Conditions/Disorders Does Gestalt Therapy Treat?

Gestalt therapy has been successfully integrated into treatment programs for adults and teens who are being treated for substance abuse, addiction, behavior disorders, mood disorders, eating disorders, grief/loss, trauma, sex addiction, compulsive gambling, bipolar, depression and related conditions.