What Are Gestalt Therapy Techniques?

Updated on January 31st, 2022

Gestalt therapy has been used as a form of therapy for decades. The mastery of this technique has led to mostly positive results. Here we will be taking a deep dive into this majestic apparatus, and we will get to the route of its mastery.

What Are Gestalt Therapy Techniques?

Brief History of Gestalt Therapy

It was founded by a trio who go by Laura Peris, Paul Goodman, and Fritz Peris sometime in the 1940s. They even went as far as releasing a book that talked about general wellness in the 1950s. Gestalt Therapy was a product of various experiments. Thus, this form of therapy is sporadic and unique. Ever since its inception, it has become more and more popular amongst therapists. It now encompasses the whole globe.

Gestalt” is a German word that means “form/shape” and “whole,” that being said, it focuses on a person as a whole. The founders always expressed their belief that you shouldn’t address human beings like machines. We should be addressed as a whole and not just by segmented parts. That said, this form of therapy focuses on an individual’s present feelings to relieve past grievances.

According to Gestalt Therapy, you can only resolve emotional distress if they are discussed in the present. Connecting with one’s emotions is the best and fastest way to heal.


As a therapist, you can help your client only as far as your skill can go. Asides from professionalism, your client will appreciate it if you have good interpersonal skills. Both of you will get closer to your goal this way.

How a therapist is nurtured and trained will significantly affect how he interacts with his clients later on.

When talking about Gestalt Therapy, it simply entails utilizing the therapist-client relationship to produce the best result. It, however, also means that the clients have to take hold of their life. Therapy is but a fraction of the person’s week. The therapy can only be effective if the person in question takes action outside the therapy room. Gestalt Therapy primarily addresses four areas:

  1. Self-awareness exploration.
  2. Creating dialogue by allowing the therapy to flow naturally.
  3. Sense of self within the context they exist in.
  4. Change comes through actions and experiments.

Techniques of Gestalt Therapy

Bearing this in mind, a therapist who employs this form of therapy will most likely follow the following techniques:

1. Theory of Paradoxical Change

It tells the therapeutic relationship and the approach towards change. It states that the more an individual tries to be someone they’re not, the more they end up staying the same way, learning to accept yourself as you are essential in living your day-to-day life. Naturally, this technique will show that the therapist is empathetic. Changes occur majorly through self-acceptance.

2. The Empty Chair Technique

That means the client has a conversation with someone who sits directly across from them. With this technique, they can envision the person they want to communicate with about a particular issue. This technique is very flexible, and the client can even move from chair to chair as they please to play out a conversation. It aims to get the patient to interact with deeply rooted behaviors, feelings, and thoughts and bring awareness.

3. Exaggeration Technique

When the therapist, especially one addressing a group, notices certain behaviors such as facial expressions and body movements linked to the patient’s present emotions. How the therapist does this is by asking the patient to exaggerate that particular behavior. The goal is to bring the patient’s attention to the emotion attached to the behavior to achieve complete awareness.

All these serve as guides for the therapist throughout the client’s treatment. It also shows the patients that they can overcome their problems once they put their minds to them.

4. Dwell on the “here” and “now.”

Patients are encouraged to face the emotions they feel rather than ignore them. Addressing your thoughts and feelings is very important to know the ones that are inhibiting you. That, of course, does not mean the therapist will ignore the client’s past. Understanding the patient’s past is key to getting results in the present. In most cases, past experiences play out in one way or the other in present situations; therefore, it is vital to understand how past experiences affect your current life.

Mental Health Conditions That May Improve from Gestalt Therapy

It can help many people in therapy, how you might ask. The first thing to do will be to discuss it with your therapist to know if this course of treatment will be the best for you. Gestalt isn’t for everyone, in all honesty.

Now back to the conditions it can assist with:

1. Self-esteem

Naturally, an individual with low self-esteem will find it hard to feel any sense of self-worth. This therapy aids acceptance, helping individuals overcome their mental barriers.

2. Headaches

Various news outlets have reported that Gestalt Therapy helps not only mental but also physiological conditions. It has been shown that it helps relieve headaches and migraines when done the right way.

3. Relationship Issues

This therapy is an excellent means for couples to straighten out their issues. Couples can powerfully heal through this.

4. Depression and Anxiety

You can fight these two heavyweight mental blockers with the aid of this therapy. If past issues are resolved, it will significantly help in present life living. In other words, people with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) see great benefits once again when employing Gestalt Therapy since they find it very difficult and painful to recount past experiences.


A therapist would ask the client various questions, especially those that have to do with the present situation. They can also involve means such as role-playing to get the best result. Therapists can also tell their clients to be more involved in movements to completely express their emotions and understand how they affect their day-to-day life.

A method that has been tested and trusted for so long should receive more recognition as it will help take therapy to a whole new level.

Daniel is a licensed Clinical Psychologist and cognitive behavioral therapy practitioner. Daniel helps his clients overcome a variety of mental health problems, including depression and anxiety. He also writes about mental health in his blog and helps us review popular online therapy platforms.

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