Ch. 6 Gestalt Therapy, Fritz Perls
Terms in this set (27)
Grounded in the humanistic tradition of existentialism and phenomenology, Gestalt therapy posits that reality is based on each person's experience and that an individual can make conscious choices throughout life that can result in creating a new way of being in the world—a new reality. The humanistic tradition is also steeped in holism. Perls argued that the mind, body, and soul operate in unison; they cannot be separated. The evolving self is the result of how the whole being reacts to familial, social, and cultural influences. This is why Perls borrowed the term "gestalt" from the Gestalt psychologists, which means: "The properties of the whole are always different and more than the sum of its parts".
The process of need-identification and need-fulfillment
An individual's pressing needs dictates his or her perceptual field (what the person sees), or as Gestalt therapists state, the need that is in the "foreground". For the Gestalt therapist, how the individual makes "contact" with his or her environment is an attempt to satisfy needs is reflective of the individual's way of being in the world and determines the "self". Perls viewed the changing self as synonymous with what he called the "ego boundary"; that is, as the self interacts with the environment and changes, so does the boundary that identifies what he person is and how the person sees himself or herself.
Satisfaction of needs is a natural process, and Gestalt therapists believed that individuals are driven to have their needs completed or finished. However, needs can be thwarted by parental shoulds, social and cultural dictates, and peer norms that influence the development of mechanisms that resist the experience of the pressing need. Such false behaviors result in "impasses" or "blockages" that prevent experiencing and are revealed through dysfunctional and neurotic behaviors, which are called "unfinished business" by Gestalt therapists.
Now= experience = awareness = reality. Ex. A wife is angry with her husband, so she immerses her self in work, plays with the children too long, stays away from the home, etc. She is avoiding facing her anger (she is angry around her husband for something or another) because her parents told her anger was not "lady-like". For her, acting ladylike (phony_ has superseded the way she actually feels. By pushing the client to experience her anger, she ends up examining issues from the past which deeply affect the manner in which she makes choices in the present. In this sense, there is a kind of seamlessness between present, past, and future.
Environmental Support --> Self Support
Developmentally, Gestalt therapists believe that people move from "environmental support" to "self-support" as they grow. Thus, the young child relies on others to survive and feel whole. However, as the child grows, he or she increasingly relies on self to find ways of meeting his or her needs. Healthy people have learned how to be self-supportive, although not socially isolated, for relationships are basic to existence. Unhealthy people rely on others for their sense of self, and when things go wrong, will tend to blame others. One can see why, for Gestalt therapists, examining whether a client is taking responsibility for his or her feelings and experiences is critical.
all aspects of the individual, both internally and externally, are connected (the spiritual, mental, physiological, and psychological parts of the person are inseparable and also connected to external forces, such as family, community, and world).
we perceive what is in the foreground of experience, and tend not to recognize what is in the background. When a need emerges, it takes precedence over other needs, and moves to the foreground. As that need becomes satisfied, it will move to the background and a new need will emerge. Some needs become blocked and result in unfinished business in the sense that a blocked need prevents the individual from fully experiencing and results in individuals' living phony lives.
dimensions of the self come in pairs or opposites. Those parts of self we feel comfortable with are acknowledged, and are in the foreground of our experiences, while the opposite hides away. Denying one's hidden part is an unnecessary expenditure of pent up energy (in therapy, the gaol is to reach the hidden parts of the self and to integrate those parts into one's personality style). Similarly, the "topdog" is the part of the self that is bossy and the "master", while the "underdog" is passive, slave-like, and inept. Therapy helps to balance these polarities.
defines the boundary between self and other, whether it is an object (food) or a person. It is our lifeblood, and how we make contact determines how healthy we are. With people, contact is a function of the ability to experience the other fully. It is (as Martin Buber noted) related to the "I-Thou relationship". Contact is directly related to what Perls called our "ego boundary", or the constantly changing point where I "meet" other people and objects and discriminate me from "other". Meeting the "other" and experiencing little difference between oneself and the other is called "confluence". One of the main functions of the Gestalt therapist is to help the person understand how his or her blockages (unfinished business) prevent need-satisfaction and result in an inability to meet other people fully.
Need Satisfaction Cycle
starts a the "zero point", or "withdrawal stage", where a person is calm and experiencing is minimal. At some point after this restful period, the individual experiences a new "sensation" as a figure arises out of the background. The individual gains a sense of "awareness" of a need that is closely related to the sensation. The individual moves into the "mobilization" phase, where plans are tentatively made to address the emerging need. "Action" is the next step. Through our sensory and motor functions we make contact with the object of need. After contact, "satisfaction" is found in taking the object. Then we are back at the zero point, which is similar to certain meditative states and that we should try to extend this zero point to experience what he called the "void". (this cycle is ongoing and seamless)
whenever we have blockages that result in unfinished business and neurotic symptoms that prevent us from experiencing ourselves fully, the individual has an inherent need to once again become whole; that is, to take himself or herself back to a more normal state.
RESISTANCES OR BLOCKAGES TO EXPERIENCE
an individual might use a number of mechanisms to prevent himself or herself rom experiencing a need, including introjection, projection, retroflection, desensitization, deflection, egotism, and confluence. Each of these mechanisms is a sign that there is unfinished business that needs to be addressed. These include introjection, projection, retroflection, desensitization, deflection, egotism, confluence
"swallowing whole" the values of significant others without ever really examining whether one also holds those values. The whole body responds in a restrictive manner to prevent awareness of the fact that the individual really does not believe what he or she is saying.
when an individual sees attributes in others that are, in fact, his or her own. This "disowning" of a part of self allows the individual to delude him or herself into believing that he or she does not have that quality. Results in living a phony life.
the holding back of an impulse intended toward others and substituting it with another one toward self. On the one hand, the impulse is attempting to show itself— on the other hand, it is held back by the body. Thus, when I encounter a "friend" with whom I have ongoing anger issues, my body tenses up as I try not to show the person my anger.
the dulling or numbing of one's senses in an effort not to experience and can be contrasted with the letting out, and then holding back, found in retroflection.
ways of avoiding contact with another person by redirecting a potential encounter (laugh, look away, talk excessively, use intellectual language). Deflection allows us to avoid the reality of the moment, and dealing with what makes us feel uncomfortable.
the over-involvement with self that prevents real contact with others. Living in a world of their own. They do not have the ability to have a give-and-take with another person.
the blurring or dissolving of boundaries between people that results in a loss of identify and the inability to clearly define the self. Isadore From stated that when individuals make assumptions about what others "know", they are often avoiding taking personal ownership for a belief and are trying to pull others into their belief system. Such statements prevent individuals from experiencing their differences, differences that are an important aspect of identity development.
Avoiding intellectualizations— use how and what questions.
Focusing on nonverbal behaviors
Being willing to experiment
Using now language
I-It language: change language to include ownership— "the world is shit" changes to "I feel like my world is shitty"
Experiencing the present— listen to your body.
Making statements out of questions— any questions are actually statements about oneself.
The dialogue game and empty chair technique
"I take responsibility for that"
Playing the projection— "the world is a scary place" in role play would be "be scared and tell me what it's like to be scared"
The exaggeration technique— emphasize or repeat a word, phrase, or sentence, over and over, more loudly and more loudly.
Feeding the client a sentence—based on the therapist's educated "hunch", he or she will create a sentence that seems to highlight a core issue and ask the client to repeat it.
"I have a secret"
Making the rounds
The Therapeutic Process
1) the cliche layer, 2) the role-playing or phony layer, 3) the impasse layer, 4) the implosive layer, 5) the explosive/authentic layer
1) the cliche layer
the "socially acceptable" way to act with people as you pass them in the hallway at work, see them in the supermarket, or walk by them on the sidewalk. It is the "you" who is depressed but responds with "Great!" When someone asks you how you are doing. Small talk.
2) the role-playing or phony layer:
we present a front to others in order to avoid actual contact. In this layer, we act as if we are a certain type of person as opposed to acting as we actually are. This layer includes the topdog and underdog, or the part of ourselves that act righteous and is demanding versus the part of us that is subservient and unsure of ourselves.
3) the impasse layer
the point where the individual realizes that he or she has been playing a role. This acknowledgment to self that one has been living a false existence catapults the individual into a state of anxiety as the person contemplates, "If that person is not the real me, who am I?".
4) the implosive layer
here, you must decide who you really are. It is here that individuals often hit a wall and implode—or deaden themselves. They are fearful that if they were to really be themselves, they would not be loved. This is a place of limbo, and a place of waiting to decide what to do. It is a place where one feels frozen in time. Frozen until one is willing to risk everything and be oneself.
5) the explosive/authentic layer
do I continue to play a role, or risk being myself? It is the layer where the person feels again. It is the place of orgasm, aliveness, anger, and sadness as the individual allows herself to truly live again. Inevitably, one who has a successful experience in Gestalt therapy feels whole and renewed, and has a much stronger sense of self. This person is in touch with his or her moment-to-moment experience and is increasingly self-supportive and self-reliant. This person is real and able to communicate directly and honestly with others.
Social, Cultural, and Spiritual Issues
Gestalt therapy has found a home with feminists, and many women who are Gestalt therapist believe that this approach, with its focus on reclaiming lost parts of self, can offer much to women, especially those aspects of women that have been traditionally oppressed by society.
For religious people, Gestalt therapy has its challenges. For instance, the approach suggests that cultural and societal injections and "shoulds" which are often based on writings from the major religions of the world, are one prime source of unfinished business, and their usefulness should be questioned. Yet, it is these very injections and should, found in religious doctrine, that are critical to living the moral and even spiritual life fro religious people. On the one hand, the phenomenological stance of Gestalt therapy calls all therapists to hear the world of the client. On the other hand, knowing that "shoulds" derived from religious doctrine can lead to unfinished business, may result in therapist bias about religious clients.
However, for religion, if we mean Zen meditation and Buddhism, Gestalt therapy seems to hit the mark with its focus on holism, the "void", here-and-now awareness, and getting in touch with deeper aspects of ourselves.
OTHER SETS BY THIS CREATOR
Quizzes and Kahoot for THEORIES
Ch. 7, Carl Rogers, Rogerian Therapy
Ch. 5 Viktor Frankl Existential Therpay
Ch. 4 Adlerian Therapy
THIS SET IS OFTEN IN FOLDERS WITH...
Counseling Theories ch. 1-2 (Intro and Freud)
Ch. 3 Carl Jung "Analytical Therapy"