Gestalt Theory: Summary

Fritz Perls predicted 3 decades ago the future of Gestalt therapy, that in the 1970s it would become recognized and an important force in psychotherapy. His prediction has come true.

There were maybe no more than a dozen people who were seriously interested in the movement in 1952. And in 1987 there were already many Gestalt training institutes and hundreds of Gestalt psychotherapists, there were also a lot of people who did not have Gestalt training or received poor Gestalt training but they named themselves "Gestaltists." Gestalt perception became known for thousands of people, who have tried Gestalt therapy -- a lot of people had positive results - some received poor or doubtful outcomes.

Thanks to the reluctance of Gestalt therapists to establish firm standards, there is a broad variety of criteria for the choice and teaching of Gestalt therapists. Certain people, having passed through the weekend workshop, think that they are ready to practice Gestalt therapy. Other psychotherapists study for years in preparation as Gestalt therapists and have a huge reverence for the simplicity and endlessly innovative and creative approach Gestalt therapy needs and entails.

In spite of the fact that Gestalt psychotherapy looks attractive for certain people in pursue of shortcuts, it also has become a focus for a considerable number of knowledgeable clinicians with big experience who have discovered that Gestalt therapy is not just a influential psychotherapy but a practical life philosophy as well.

If people are in pursue of the easy solutions and shorter alternative ways, they will go away as they want greener pastures. Gestalt therapy will obtain a considerable influence and will be placed into the list of different independent psychotherapies during the following decades. It should keep on drawing attention of creative psychotherapists who are focused on experimental work which will last for the whole life.

Gestalt therapy has opened up a lot of creative and helpful innovations in the theory and practice of psychotherapy. They have been included into general practice, frequently with no credit. Currently Gestalt therapy is developing further, its principles are being elaborated and refined. Not considering the label, existential dialogue principle, bringing direct phenomenological patient's experience into play and therapist's experience as well, the reliance on organismic self-regulation, the accent on awareness and experimentation, the "no shoulds" therapist's attitude, and the client's responsibility in addition to the therapist's for the choice made - all these elements comprise a model of excellent psychotherapy that will be further used by many people.

To sum it up, a quotation taken from the work of Simkin and Levitsky (1972, pp. 251-252) will be just at its place:

In case we were given the choice of one key idea, which would symbolize the Gestalt approach, the conception of authenticity might be pointed out, the pursuit of authenticity...If we look upon therapy and the therapist in the merciless authenticity light, it gets obvious that the therapist is not able to teach what he is not aware of...An experienced therapist is aware that he is sharing his fears with the client as well as his bravery, sincerity and defensiveness together with his misunderstanding and his clarity. The therapist's knowledge, recognition, and sharing true info can become a highly convincing illustration of the therapist's own authenticity. Evidently this can't be obtained overnight. It should be learned and learned more and more to have profound knowledge which should be accumulated during the whole life.