Gestalt therapy's fundamental themes include figure and ground, balance and polarities, awareness, present-centeredness, unfinished business, and personal responsibility. Internal processing happens as a result of inner attention. Attention must be turned inside in order to engage in internal processing. Engaging in external activities while ignoring internal experiences is called extroversion.
External behaviors include talking, writing, laughing, crying, and sexual activity. An individual who is more engaged in these types of activities is said to be more extroverted. Introverts prefer to spend time with others inside their heads rather than outside it. They get energy from solitude and intimacy, and they need time alone to process information from their senses and think about what will happen next. Introverts can also gain energy by being around others if they take care to avoid overstimulation. Extroverts need more interaction with other people because they require stimulation from the outside world to stay active and not feel depressed.
Introversion and extroversion are two ends of a spectrum where most people fall on either side. Some introverts are highly social while some extroverts dislike people too much to be considered introspective. Similarly, some individuals are highly sensitive while others are very aware of everything going on around them. There are also different levels of introversion and extroversion within each type.
Gestalt therapy aims to alleviate the tensions and ambiguities caused by a failure to integrate the personality. Gestalt therapy teaches people to become aware of key sensations inside themselves and their surroundings so that they may respond completely and rationally to events. The therapist helps clients understand and resolve issues surrounding intimacy, relationships, work, leisure, and self-actualization.
Major goals of the gestalt therapist include helping clients: increase awareness of feelings and thoughts; differentiate between what is being thought or felt and who is thinking or feeling it; change unhelpful patterns of reacting; develop new ways of responding.
In addition to addressing emotional problems, the gestalt therapist also seeks to help patients gain new insights about themselves and their world which could lead to personal growth. Some examples of this include learning to trust one's own perceptions and feelings rather than relying on others to be accurate; developing courage to take risks and try new things; becoming more self-reliant and independent; learning to communicate better with others.
Through intensive analysis of his or her own experience, the gestalt therapist learns how to best help his or her clients face their difficulties and achieve their potential.
Gestalt therapists do not seek to alter their clients, which is the most essential purpose of Gestalt therapy. The therapist's duty is to help clients become more self-aware of how they are in the current moment. The therapist must also grasp the entirety of the client's experience. Only then can the therapist best serve those needs.
In Gestalt therapy, there is no such thing as a typical client. Clients come from many different backgrounds and have many different issues that need attention. Some clients may even have several problems that they want the therapist to work on with them. There is no set amount of time that the therapist should spend with each client. How long will depend on what needs are being met and whether or not the client wants to continue working with the therapist.
Because the goal of Gestalt therapy is for the client to learn how to solve their own problems, most sessions include some type of homework assignment. This could be as simple as writing down your thoughts and feelings about one topic that has been discussed during the session. More involved assignments might involve trying out certain techniques that were discussed during the session. It is up to the client what they want to work on next time they meet with the therapist.
In conclusion, the role of the client in Gestalt therapy is to let the therapist know what issues they would like to work on and to help them do so.