Gestalt Therapy Resource Page

Some classical and modern reading resources on Gestalt therapy are presented here for your reading and viewing pleasure.

“Searching for Wholeness” Click on image to purchase on Fineartamerica.com

What is the meaning of “Gestalt”?

“Gestalt” is a German word with no perfect English translation. This makes it great!

  • Gestalt emphasizes form:  Gestalt emphasizes the way elements come together to create a whole entity.
  • Gestalt is shape and to shape: Referring to the visual outline or overall appearance of something. It also means the creation of the outline.
  • Gestalt is the configuration: How parts are arranged or structured in relation to each other.
  • Gestalt is pattern: A discernible, sometimes repetitive, arrangement within a larger whole.

Beyond these literal translations, Gestalt carries a philosophical meaning emphasizing:

  • Wholeness: The idea that a Gestalt is more than the sum of its parts. The way the elements interact is just as important as the elements themselves.
  • Emergence: The concept that complex patterns and meanings can arise from simple elements coming together in a specific way.

“Gestalt” as a concept through the lens of Ernst Bloch (Bocian, 2015)

Bloch examines how Gestalt was interpreted in various contexts, highlighting the tension between fixed and fluid understandings.

Gestalt is dynamic: Bloch acknowledges the validity of Gestalt as a way to identify patterns and structures. He criticises attempts to freeze these Gestalts into rigid categories— a tendency in government and constitutions, or any statistical unitary concept of ‘order’. He quotes Goethe’s warning against mistaking Gestalt for something static, arguing that “everything vacillates in constant motion” ([Bloch 1979, 1157] quoted in the passage).

Dynamic Figure/Ground formation: The Frankfurt and Berlin schools of Gestalt theory, emphasizes the dynamic process of figure-ground formation.

Gestalt therapy and the breaking down of psycho-physical (and I think also social) character armours, which were seen as rigid and fixed Gestalts. Lore Perls, emphasized the “free-flowing formation of Gestalts” as a sign of healthy growth ([L. Perls 1989, 110] quoted in the passage).

Gestalt and the connection to artistic creation: The passage also explores the connection between Gestalt and artistic movements like Dadaism. Bloch finds a parallel between the Dada technique of montage and the concept of “tendency Gestalts” – incomplete forms that point towards something new. Here, Gestalt becomes a way of understanding the fragmented and ever-changing nature of reality.

Gestalt is a multifaceted concept. While it can be used to identify patterns, Bloch emphasizes the importance of recognizing the dynamism inherent in Gestalt. He highlights the dangers of using Gestalt to justify fixed social orders and argues for a more open and processual understanding.

This is descriptive of the spirit of the Gestalt therapy process.

Reference:

Bocian, B. (2015). Fritz Perls in Berlin 1893-1933: Expressionism Psychoanalysis Judaism. EHP-Verlag Andreas Kohlhage. P. 293-296.


Gestalt Therapy Blog Articles

Key Ideas in Daoist Philosophy that Coincides with Gestalt Therapy
Alienation: Philosophical Roots and Therapeutic Implications for the Gestalt Therapist
Wilhelm Reich’s Influence on Gestalt Therapy
Early Conceptualisation of Gestalt Therapy’s Understanding of Introjection
Gestalt Therapy: A Tapestry Woven from Psychoanalysis, Gestalt Psychology, and Field Theory
Erving Polster (1922-2024): Gestalt Therapy
Kurt Goldstein’s Influence on Fritz Perls Gestalt Therapy
Karen Horney’s Influence on Fritz Perls & Gestalt Therapy
Integration through Experimentation in Gestalt Therapy: origins and theory
Francesetti: Gestalt Therapy, an Engine of Change.
Treatment of Compulsive Sexual Behaviour Disorder (CSBD): A Gestalt Therapy approach
Gestalt Therapy: The Paradoxical Theory of Change
Bob Resnick – Gestalt Therapy And Homeostasis: Evolution – With Movement, Discrimination And Grace
Fritz Perls: What is Gestalt? 1970 Video
The Fertile Void, Creative Indifference & Gestalt Psychotherapy
Short Definitions of Relatedness and Relationship
Notes on Field Theory in Gestalt Therapy
Diagnosis of Obsessive-Compulsive Personality from the Gestalt Therapy Perspective
Resnick: Gestalt Therapy Principles in Today’s Context
Gestalt Therapy is about Action and not Simply Talk
Levels of Gestalt Therapy Treatment Methods
Integrating Kernberg’s Model of Personality Organization with Gestalt Therapy
Illustration: The Dialogical Self and Contact Cycle
Fritz Perls: Quotes on Therapy in Groups
Gestalt Theory: 5 Phases of Therapeutic Change
Fritz Perls: Working with Dreams in Gestalt Therapy
How Bobby Mcferrin explains Gestalt Theory with this Act

Gestalt Therapy Reading List (to be extended)

Gestalt Therapy Videos

Psychoanalysis & Gestalt Therapy Dialogue

Margherita Spagnuolo Lobb & Nancy McWilliams

The relational nervous system in Gestalt Body Process Psychotherapy

James Kepner, 2019

Gestalt Couples Therapy

Bob and Rita Resnick, Luana Herek, 2020

New Contemporary Gestalt Therapy

Bob Resnick, 2014

The Field and the Practice of Reciprocity

Margherita Spagnuolo Lobb, 2020

Gestalt Therapy Session

Irving Polster, ca. 2012