Gestalt Therapy was developed by Fritz Perls (1893 –1970), his wife Laura (1905 – 1989) and Paul Goodman (1911-1972) in the 1940s and 50s. Its principles are based on Gestalttheory and Gestaltpsychology as well as psychoanalysis. Other important influences were Existentialism, experimental theatre, authors like Martin Buber, Paul Tillich and Taoism.
The main idea of Gestalt (Theory) is that the whole (Gestalt) is something other than its parts, something complete, and that humans strive for completion. Therefore, the objective of Gestalt therapy is to enable the client to become more fully and creatively alive and to become free from the blocks and unfinished business that may diminish satisfaction, fulfillment, and growth, and to experiment with new ways of being. It focusses on what is being done, thought and felt at the present moment.
Accordingly, Perls directed his clients to „lose their minds and come to their senses“, in order to understand to understand deeper meanings, one should be fully aware of the present moment and experience with all senses. Gestalt therapy is a method of awareness practice, by which perceiving, feeling, and acting are understood to be conducive to interpreting, explaining, and conceptualizing
Gestalt therapy also focuses on the therapist–client relationship and the environmental and social contexts of a person’s life.
Dreams play a big role in Gestalt therapy, but unlike psychoanalysis, the therapist does not make any interpretations. The meaning of everything in a dream is determined by the client, while the therapist enables the client to re-experience the dream content.