The basic foundation of Gestalt therapy lies in three areas: humanistic, existentialism, and phenomenological components. How holistic approaches and Gestalt therapy fit together is based on working with an individual as a whole; that is, his or her physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, historical, and cultural experience.
All of these areas cannot be separated as they are part of the individual’s life experience, and utilizing Gestalt therapy in this way will lead to more awareness, responsibility, and fulfillment in the life of the individual undergoing this therapy.
Let’s take a look at the components of Gestalt therapy in order to understand their meaning and why they are so effective when used in combination with a holistic approach.
The humanistic component allows for a dialogue with the therapist that is meaningful and proactive. The existentialist component allows for focus on the here and now – that the individual is solely responsible for his or her own fate. The phenomenological component is used to focus on the individual’s perceived view of reality. It allows for increased awareness of self and the relationship with others.
The holistic approach is a combination of the individual, family, and culture. Thus, it is the whole, not specific parts of the individual, which is explored within the present, past, and future. Finding new ways to become more aware through learning and experimentation is the key to successful Gestalt therapy.
Indeed, the holistic approach is the embodiment of Gestalt therapy. It is based on the assertion that the whole is more important that the sum of the individual parts, and all parts are related to each other. It is this principal approach that is explored: the individual’s need to understand the many complexities that arise from one’s background, religion, feelings, emotions, family, and physical and psychological complexities.
In an excerpt from the book Gestalt Therapy: Excitement and Growth in the Human Personality, “Gestalt outlook is the original, undistorted, natural approach to life, to man’s and woman’s thinking, acting, feeling with the criteria of therapeutic progress being measured against the patient’s own awareness of heightened vitality and more effective functioning.”
Thus, holistic approaches and Gestalt therapy fit together perfectly. This form of therapy is not viewed as a cure-all, but offers an individual the tools to encounter any situation and deal with it successfully.
Finally, what separates the holistic approach and Gestalt therapy from other forms of psychotherapy is that each individual is seen as unique. An honest and open dialogue that reflects the views of the therapist as well as the patient is utilized to create acute awareness through interaction, understanding, and self-discovery.