Gestalt Group Therapy Chapter 11, Theory & Practice of Group Counseling, by Gerald Corey Presented by Jeanine Goodwin
In the Beginning… • Fritz & Laura Perls • Established in the 1940’s • Focused on person-centered awareness, and addressing the client’s unresolved issues • Quickly known for its confrontational, “hot seat” approach • Originally designed for one-on-one therapy • The group aspect was indirect (one-on-one therapy in front of an audience)
The Revised Standard Version • Referred to as relational Gestalt therapy • Introduced by Erving and Miriam Polster • Less confrontational • More supportive, accepting, and challenging • Little use of the “empty chair” technique • Focuses on the client-therapist relationship, empathy, dialogue, and helping the client tap into his/her own wisdom and resources • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7cwa5X6zgk
Therapeutic Goals • AWARENESS!!! • Integration of polarities • Achieving contact with self and others • Learning how to clearly state wants or needs • Learning how to support one another • Learning how to make use of the resources within the group versus using the therapist as a resource.
Key Concepts and Principles • Awareness • Holism (“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”) • Field Theory • Figure-Formation • Organismic Self-Regulation • Here-and-Now • Unfinished Business • Contact and Disturbances to Contact • Energy and Blocks to Energy
Group Leader Role and Function • Creates experiments to help members tap their resources • Focuses on awareness, contact, and experimentation • Actively engaged with group members and frequently self-discloses • Creates an atmosphere and structure conducive to the members’ creativity and innovation • Less emphasis on technique, more emphasis on direct self-expression, presence, authentic dialogue, and the client-therapist relationship • Contacts with group members on an “I/Thou” basis • Serves as an “artist involved in creating new life” according to Polster and Polster (1973) (Corey, 2008, p. 290). • Uses his/her own experience as an essential component of the therapy process.
Stages of Group Therapy • First Stage • Identity and Dependence • Group members (with the therapist’s help) explore questions they have about their identity within the group • Second Stage • Influence and Counterdependence • Group members grapple with issues of influence, authority, and control • Third Stage • Intimacy and Interdependence • Real contact occurs within and among the group members. • Members are helped to recognize their unfinished business not worked through in the group. • Group leader no longer the ultimate authority, but serves as a resource or consultant.
Techniques & Procedures • Experiments • Attention to Language • Nonverbal Language • Internal Dialogue Experiments • Making the Rounds • Fantasy Approaches • Rehearsal • Exaggeration Experiment • Dream Work
Gestalt in School Groups • Emphasis on building quality therapeutic relationships • Art & Storytelling • Empty Chair • Topdog-Underdog • Techniques are limited within some adolescent groups (p. 306) • Here and Now • Dream Work
Gestalt in Multicultural Groups • World View • Phenomenological • Emphasis on non-verbal expression • Use of imagery and fantasy* • Speak in native tongue • Solid understanding of the limitations of Gestalt techniques in dealing with diverse populations
Strengths • Quality of contact • Authentic relationship and dialogue • Emphasis on field theory, phenomenology, and awareness • Creativity and spontaneity • Integration of theory, practice, and research • Present-centered methodology • Focus on the body (affect, non-verbals)
Limitations • Elicitation of emotions • Misuse of power • Competency of the therapist or group leader • Rigidity and Pushiness in therapy • Misapplication of methodology
References • Corey, G. (2008). Theory and Practice of Group Counseling, 7th ed. Belmont, CA: Thomson Brooks/Cole. • Polster, E. & Polster, M. (1973). Gestalt Therapy Integrated: Contours of theory and practice. New York: Brunner/Mazel. • Yontef, G.M. (1993). Awareness, Dialogue, & Process: Essays on Gestalt therapy. Gouldsboro, ME: The Gestalt Journal Press