Based on existential principles, Gestalt therapy was founded by Fritz Perls, his wife Laura, and Paul Goodman. It includes the concepts of personal responsibility, unfinished business, and the here-and-now. The goal is for clients to become complete and whole individuals.

During therapeutic encounters, the therapist needs to be "fully present". Similar to Rogerian therapy, Gestalt views growth as occurring due to genuine contact between two people rather than by the imposition of techniques. Growth is not fostered by the therapist's interpretations. In fact, interpretation is made by the client rather than by the counselor. While encouraging the client to believe that growth is possible, the therapist has to be creative in helping the individual deal with the here-and-now as well as with unfinished business.


1. Gestalt asks "What?" or "How?" rather than "Why?"

2. Gestalt relies on the concept of layers of neurosis

3. Dreams are considered important

Human Nature:

1. Clients:

a. Are manipulative

b. Avoid self-reliance

c. Avoid taking on personal responsibility

d. Have to stand on their own two feet to deal with life problems themselves

- Move the client from environmental supports to self-support

- Help the client reintegrate disowned parts of his/or her personality

Therapist's Goals:

1. Create experiments for clients to assist their self-awareness of what they are doing and how they are doing it

2. Help clients with the development of skills necessary to satisfy their needs without violating rights of others or personal moral standards

3. Assist clients with acquisition of morals

4. Help clients with the development of willingness to help others and to ask for help when needed

Therapy Process:

1. Promote awareness in client through:

a. Insight

b. Self acceptance

c. Knowledge of the environment

d. Responsibility for choices, actions, and behaviors

e. Paradoxical theory of change

f. Ability to make contact with others

The client is expected to do his/or her own seeing, feeling, sensing, and interpreting vs. passively allowing the therapist to provide insight and answers.