The foundation of the way I work with individuals and couples is based on the theory and practice of Gestalt therapy. Gestalt therapy is a holistic, experiential, and relational way of working with individuals and couples. From a Gestalt counselling perspective, a well-lived life is founded on a person’s awareness of how they live their life and how they manage their relationships. Below I describe the core concepts I use in the therapy work I will do with you.
How Gestalt therapy helps relationships
The foundations of Gestalt therapy are based on awareness. When working with you, I support you in raising your awareness about how you are living your life, who you are in relationship with others, and what choices you are making. In being more aware, Gestalt therapy can then help you make more positive choices that will have meaning, are creative, and will aid you in creating a life with relationships that are fulfilling.
Through couples counselling, I support you and your partner in becoming aware of the negative and destructive patterns that have become entrenched, so that you may begin to break these patterns and begin to form new patterns that are supportive, loving and enriching to your relationship.
A here-and-now approach to past relationship pain
The Gestalt approach to counselling is grounded in the here-and-now. This means that what you are experiencing in the present moment, in the therapy room or with your partner, takes precedence over your past experiences. This means that the therapy process is alive and present-centred.
While I do not discount your personal history, I am focussed on how your present life is being affected by your past experiences. A present-centred focus means that the therapy is dynamic as you are sharing your feelings, thoughts, sensations, and imaginings in the present moment. The benefits of this are that you are able to learn and integrate new experiences by working in the present, rather than only talking about how or what you want to change in your life.
For couples, this means that you will often be in conversation with each other during the therapy. I observe how you are relating to each other. I give feedback based on my observations and will encourage you to try out new ways of communicating in the therapy room. Couples are invited to try out different behaviours and ways of relating in the present moment. The power of this process is that you experience new ways of being, rather than just talking about them.
The Gestalt approach to change
“Change occurs when one becomes what he is, not when he tries to become what he is not”
The theory of Gestalt therapy is underpinned by the idea that change comes from being more fully yourself. Many other therapies urge you to try and be different or to focus on changing yourself. While this may work in the short term, it rarely leads to long-term change.
This powerful concept means that when you stop trying to change yourself and become more aware of what, how, and who you are, then change will follow from there.
This means that through counselling we will explore ways that you can become more aware of how you are in your world, what you think and feel, how you conduct your relationships and what you are doing in your life that does or does not support you in your movement towards health.
In my experience, Gestalt therapy has a radical theory of change that is powerfully effective for allowing individuals and couples to begin to break negative and destructive patterns of relating. This is the first step in beginning to form the loving and healthy relationships that you desire.
Gestalt therapy is a holistic approach
My approach is holistic. This means I view and acknowledge the whole of you, including your values and beliefs, family-of-origin influences, cultural heritage and past, present, and future experiences and aspirations. I don’t view you as a set of problems or issues to be fixed. Through counselling, I support you in building your sense of wholeness so that you may begin to accept all parts of yourself. I see all aspects of you as interconnected and a vital part of you, your relationships, and your life.
I acknowledge and affirm your own knowledge, understanding, resources, and wisdom that you have gained through your unique personal history. The benefits you will gain from a holistic therapy approach are that I am able to assist you in accessing your own resources for healing past relationship wounds and trauma. This can then free you to create loving and respectful relationships.
In working with couples I am interested in your strengths as a couple. We explore what has worked well, so that you may draw out and build on these. We also explore what has not worked well for you and what you each bring from your personal histories that may be getting in the way of relating in healthy and enriching ways. This is often a springboard for trying out new behaviours in the therapy room to deepen your connection with your partner.
Gestalt therapy is experiential
Gestalt therapy is more than just talk-therapy. I work in an experiential way, which means I value you trying out and experiencing new ways of being in the counselling room. This is about experiencing fully, in the present moment, all that you are. The process of trying out a new behaviour is called an experiment. The goals of experiments are exploring, discovering and raising awareness. You become more aware of who you are and how you are relating. I am an active participant in this process and will often give feedback, share my observations, and disclose my thoughts and feelings as they occur in the present.
I draw on aspects of meditation and mindfulness in my work with you. I am passionate about my own meditation practice and have an interest in the healing power of mindfulness on mental and physical health and well-being. What this means is I am able to stay calm and present-centred in our work together.
I bring sensitivity and provide a space for us to explore together the aspects of your life that you wish to attend to. New awareness can emerge from this space, providing options and choices that were previously unavailable. I also support you in bringing a mindful approach to the issues you are working on. In my experience this has been a highly effective way of working and clients frequently report positive benefits from learning the skills of mindfulness.
Gestalt therapy is a relational approach
In our therapy relationship, we often look at what is occurring in the relationship between us. This is a powerful way of working and can become a valuable source of information for you. What this means is you can discover the blocks and difficulties that you experience in your other relationships outside of the counselling room by understanding the familiar patterns that emerge between us in counselling. You become more aware of the blocks you have to intimate relating and together, we can develop new ways of relating in our relationship that will then transfer to your other relationships.
Current research into neuroscience and relational psychotherapy provides strong evidence of the powerful healing potential of the client-therapist relationship in the therapeutic process. What makes Gestalt therapy unique when compared to other therapies is the relationship focus. I am an active participant in the therapeutic process and will actively engage with you and attend to our relationship as it develops. This is a powerful method of healing past relationship wounds and traumas.
One of the most important factors for a positive outcome in counselling is a strong connection and rapport with your counsellor. Because of my relationship focus, I believe that this is one of the most powerful aspects of my counselling practice and a rich source of healing. This means the strong working relationship I work to develop between us is instrumental in your healing journey and allows you to move towards your relationship goals. You also have a voice in how we work together and what you need for a successful outcome.
Are you ready to move out of relationship pain?
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