Techniques of Gestalt Therapy

Gestalt therapists have described a variety of techniques to sharpen direct experience, heighten conflicts and polarities, foster freer expression, or to bring into awareness blocks and avoidance mechanisms. Continuum of awareness is a technique which encourages the patient to focus on the now, the ever-shifting midpoint of experience. The Gestalt therapist avoids "why" questions which encourage theorizing, rationalizing, and justifying. Instead, the therapist encourages the patient to "stay with" whatever is in the foreground and bring full awareness to the experience. The resolution of an unpleasant situation lies in experiencing it fully, not trying to avoid it.

In Gestalt therapy as practiced by Fritz Perls, taking the hot seat indicated a person's willingness to engage with the therapist. In this case the hot seat was a chair facing the therapist. An additional empty chair next to the patient might be used to imagine the presence of a significant other or disowned part of self for the purpose of initiating a dialogue. As the interplay between these conflicting parts is heightened and more fully experienced, integration through greater self-acceptance becomes possible. In the Gestalt method of dream-work, each dream is thought to contain an existential message—an expression of aspects of the dreamer's present state of being. By becoming every object and character in the dream (both animate and inan imate), the dreamer can identify with and thereby reown projections, conflicts, and unfinished situations reflected in the dream.

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