"Don’t push the river, it flows by itself."
F. Perls

How can be Gestalt therapy useful?

The objective of Gestalt therapy is to guide you through the process of becoming aware of the way you respond to the world surrounding you. Slowly, you start to discover that what you consider as outer world are in fact parts of you. Once you become aware of those parts of your personality and you gradually reappropriate them, you will realize that you are able to respond adequately to any situation in your life.

Read more about the ways the Gestalt therapy improves your life.
How is the attitude change possible?

The changes in the way you approach yourself and the world around you are the result of a long process facilitated by the therapist’s attitude. The therapist guides you towards awareness about the underlying motivations of your reactions to the ongoing and past issues in your life. The keywords in this process are awareness, the present time and responsibility

How do you become aware of the mechanisms interfering in your interactions with the world? One thing is being told what drives you and yet another thing is discovering this for yourself. Being aware means that there is no way back to non-awareness. Becoming aware of your inner workings is therapeutic as such because once you are aware that your emotional reactions are the source of your suffering, you are unlikely to keep resorting to them.

At some point you find yourself in a void between the old ways and the new ways. This may be distressing at first but once you slow down and start to listen to yourself, new ways of dealing with life emerge naturally. With the new ways comes released energy and the sense of your own autonomous functioning.

The people around you may become insecure because you are not anymore renouncing parts of yourself in order to help them to live their life. The realisation that you are responsible for your life and they are responsible for theirs relieves you from feeling guilty and dependent.

Here and now

The present time is the only space where you can actually do something. The past is gone and the future is yet unknown. Dwelling in the past by reacting to every new situation in ways that were efficient for you as a child consumes time and energy you need for yourself now.

Likewise you may waste enormous amounts of energy by anticipating future events, fantasising catastrophic outcomes and undergoing emotional reactions such as fear, anxiety, irritability, headaches and lack of sleep, loosing energy that you need to confront the actual event.

There is time to talk about the past in the therapy sessions, nevertheless, the past is always considered in its relation to the present. The past needs to be taken responsibility for in the present, it does not serve to justify the present.

Taking responsibility for your past emotional reactions gives you the option to react otherwise in the present. Spinning round in the what-could-I-have-done reasoning is preventing the possibility of change in the present. The therapy sessions always start with the present moment and from there issues come up and are dealt with in the here and now.

Accepting responsibility for your emotions, thoughts and actions is one of the basic steps towards attitude change. Assigning this responsibility to something or somebody outside you means that you are giving away the possibility of functioning as an autonomous human being.

Compare “This lousy weather makes me miserable.” to “I feel miserable when the weather is lousy.” It seems insignificant but the attitude behind these affirmations couldn’t be more different.

Making the external world responsible for your inner state makes your inner state dependent on the external world, be it the weather, political situation, your parents or your partner. In that case you have lost part of your autonomy and of your control of your inner state.

Whenever the negative external instances accumulate (the boss, a traffic jam, the children, the clients, the post office clerk) you may end up feeling that your inner state has been taken over. This may manifest in your life as seemingly unrelated anxiety, depression, loss of concentration, difficulties with sleep, irritability, tendency to worry about the future, headache or any other symptom depending on your character structure.

Assuming responsibility for your inner state gives you the freedom to respond appropriately to the way you feel. Most importantly, this involves expressing what you feel. Unexpressed feelings increase tension within your mind and body. This tension can result in any symptom imaginable from headache to a bad flu, or worse. 

In the context of the Gestalt therapy the responsibility means far more than being on time and pay your invoices. Being responsible means standing on your own feet and living without the need of any external support: recognition from your parents or friends, approval of your boss or the emotional support of your partner.