Gestalt Therapy

A humanistic approach to psychotherapy that emphasizes personal responsibility and the individual's experience in the present moment.


Gestalt Therapy is a humanistic and experiential form of psychotherapy that focuses on an individual's present life and challenges rather than delving into past experiences. This approach stresses personal responsibility and the individual's experience in the present moment. Gestalt therapists aim to help clients develop a deeper understanding of themselves and their relationships with others by exploring their thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and perceptions. The therapy encourages self-awareness, personal growth, and the development of a strong sense of self.

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Gestalt Therapy was developed by Fritz Perls, Laura Perls, and Paul Goodman in the 1940s. The approach drew from various influences, including psychoanalysis, existentialism, phenomenology, and Eastern philosophy. Fritz Perls, a German-born psychiatrist, believed that traditional psychoanalysis focused too heavily on the past and neglected the importance of the present moment. He aimed to create a more holistic and experiential approach to therapy. Perls, along with his wife Laura and collaborator Paul Goodman, published the book 'Gestalt Therapy' in 1951, which outlined the core principles and techniques of this new therapeutic approach. Over time, Gestalt Therapy gained popularity and became a well-established form of psychotherapy practiced worldwide.


  1. Increased Self-Awareness Gestalt Therapy helps individuals develop a deeper understanding of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, leading to greater self-awareness and personal insight.
  2. Improved Relationships By focusing on interpersonal dynamics and communication, Gestalt Therapy can help individuals build stronger, more fulfilling relationships with others.
  3. Enhanced Personal Responsibility The therapy encourages individuals to take ownership of their choices and actions, promoting personal responsibility and empowerment.
  4. Greater Emotional Regulation Gestalt Therapy helps individuals develop effective strategies for managing and regulating their emotions, leading to improved emotional well-being.
  5. Increased Flexibility and Adaptability By emphasizing the importance of the present moment and promoting self-awareness, Gestalt Therapy can help individuals become more flexible and adaptable in the face of life's challenges.
  6. Holistic Approach Gestalt Therapy takes a holistic view of the individual, considering their thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and physical sensations, leading to a more comprehensive understanding of the self.

How It Works

Gestalt therapy is a holistic approach that focuses on the present moment and the client's experience. The therapist guides the client to explore their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in the here-and-now. Through techniques like role-playing, dialogue, and experimentation, clients gain awareness of their patterns and learn to take responsibility for their choices. The goal is to help clients integrate their experiences and develop a more authentic sense of self. Gestalt therapy emphasizes the importance of the therapeutic relationship and the client's active participation in the process.


Gestalt therapy can be intense and emotionally challenging, as it requires clients to confront their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in the present moment. Some clients may find the experiential nature of the therapy uncomfortable or overwhelming. It may not be suitable for individuals with severe mental health conditions or those who prefer a more structured approach. Gestalt therapy relies heavily on the therapist's skills and the quality of the therapeutic relationship, so finding a qualified and experienced practitioner is crucial. Clients should be prepared to take an active role in their therapy and be open to self-exploration.

How Much It Costs

The cost of Gestalt therapy can vary depending on factors such as the therapist's experience, location, and session length. On average, a 50-minute individual session can range from $100 to $200. Some therapists may offer sliding scale fees based on income or accept insurance, which can reduce out-of-pocket costs. Group therapy sessions may be more affordable, ranging from $40 to $80 per session. It's essential to discuss fees and payment options with the therapist before starting treatment.

Virtual & Online Options

Online Gestalt therapy can be a convenient and accessible alternative to in-person sessions. It allows clients to receive therapy from the comfort of their own home, eliminating travel time and expenses. Online therapy can be particularly beneficial for those with mobility issues, busy schedules, or limited access to local therapists. However, some clients may prefer the face-to-face interaction and the therapeutic environment of in-person sessions. Local therapy can also provide a more immersive experience for techniques like role-playing and experimentation. Ultimately, the choice between online and local therapy depends on individual preferences and circumstances.


Gestalt therapists typically hold a master's or doctoral degree in psychology, counseling, or a related field. They should have completed specialized training in Gestalt therapy from an accredited institution. The most recognized certification is the Certified Gestalt Therapist (CGT) credential, awarded by the Gestalt Therapy Institute of Los Angeles (GTILA). Other reputable organizations, such as the Gestalt International Study Center (GISC) and the European Association for Gestalt Therapy (EAGT), also offer training and certification programs. It's important to verify a therapist's credentials and ensure they are licensed to practice in their state or country.

Complementary Practices

Some complementary practices to Gestalt therapy include mindfulness meditation, art therapy, psychodrama, and body-centered therapies like yoga or dance/movement therapy. These practices can enhance self-awareness, emotional regulation, and creative expression, which align well with the experiential and holistic approach of Gestalt therapy.

Practitioner Types

Gestalt therapy is typically provided by licensed mental health professionals such as psychologists, clinical social workers, licensed professional counselors, and marriage and family therapists. These practitioners should have specific training and certification in Gestalt therapy from accredited institutions or professional organizations.

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  • Q: What is the main focus of Gestalt therapy?

    • A: Gestalt therapy focuses on the present moment and the individual's immediate thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It emphasizes personal responsibility and the development of self-awareness to promote growth and change.
  • Q: How long does Gestalt therapy usually last?

    • A: The length of Gestalt therapy varies depending on the individual's needs and goals. Some people may benefit from short-term therapy lasting a few months, while others may engage in longer-term therapy for a year or more.
  • Q: What can I expect during a typical Gestalt therapy session?

    • A: In a Gestalt therapy session, you can expect to engage in experiential exercises, role-playing, and dialogues with your therapist. The therapist may guide you to explore your thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations in the present moment to increase self-awareness and facilitate change.
  • Q: Is Gestalt therapy effective for treating anxiety and depression?

    • A: Yes, Gestalt therapy can be an effective approach for treating anxiety and depression. By focusing on the present moment and increasing self-awareness, individuals can develop coping strategies, improve emotional regulation, and enhance their overall well-being.
  • Q: Can Gestalt therapy be done in a group setting?

    • A: Yes, Gestalt therapy can be conducted in both individual and group settings. Group Gestalt therapy allows participants to interact with and learn from each other, providing a supportive environment for growth and self-discovery.


Gestalt therapy is a holistic and experiential approach to psychotherapy that emphasizes present-moment awareness, personal responsibility, and the integration of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. By focusing on the here-and-now and the individual's subjective experience, Gestalt therapy aims to promote self-awareness, emotional regulation, and personal growth. It can be an effective treatment for various mental health concerns and can be complemented by other practices that share similar principles. Seeking a qualified and experienced Gestalt therapist is essential for those interested in exploring this approach to therapy.