Gestalt therapy is a type of talking therapy used to increase awareness of yourself (feelings and emotions) in a less intellectual manner than some other forms of therapy. “Gestalt” in German means ‘form’, ‘shape’ or ‘figure’. However, in English the word has come to mean ‘as a whole’ or ‘holistic’.
In any experience or interaction there are feelings and emotions that people are aware of and others which they aren’t. The idea in Gestalt therapy is that at times people need to repress or suppress aspects of their feelings and emotions to get by, to cope; maybe because they were not accepted or supported at that time. These ignored aspects of can become unfinished business and lead to emotional discomfort, blocking progress and stopping people from moving forward.
Gestalt therapy can help shed light on unfinished business by helping people to focus their awareness on feelings and emotions (or lack of them) moment to moment. Once the unfinished business is recognised, (i.e. uncomfortable feelings, stuck patterns of behaviour, or ways in which a person perceives themselves and others that might not be based on reality), you are better equipped to understand your limitations and behaviour and are able to choose whether you want to make changes or not.
On occasions just unearthing hidden feelings and emotions can help you to feel better or, on knowing more, these unearthed issues can be helped and resolved using other techniques.
One common method utilized in Gestalt therapy is the empty-chair technique. This is a simple tool in self-exploration where you can imagine yourself holding a conversation with someone or something in an empty chair. This “empty chair technique” can stimulate your thinking and highlight your emotions and attitudes. It’s a simple technique that can offer great results.