I use Gestalt techniques to help my clients focus on their present life to encourage their self-realization and make better decision, as well as grow on a personal level in a freer way more consistent with their needs.
1. Dialogue technique: the empty chair
Many will be familiar with this technique. It is well-known, often useful and represents the essence of Gestalt very well.
The goal is to trigger the mourning process or resolve traumas. However, for personal growth it has another purpose: to start an internal dialogue where we act out “our opposites”. Using this, we can dialogue with ourselves.
On the one hand we put whatever is producing discomfort. On the other, that part that wants to face it to live a more productive, free and open life.
2. I’m responsible
One of the best Gestalt techniques is the ”taking responsibility” game. It looks simple, but it takes a great deal of commitment. Its purpose is to help us be more aware of what is happening inside us. To perceive it, accept it and then encourage more active behavior using these changes.
Here’s a brief example.
“My head hurts and my stomach hurts too. I know I overthink things and that I’m stressed. I’m responsible for that and I accept I have to change things.“
“I realize I have voice. I’m responsible for making sure I speak honestly, without fear, and that I respect myself and others.”
3. Unfinished Business
Unfinished business refer to past events that affect our present. They are unmanaged emotions, blocked feelings, personal knots that keep us from living life fully now.
We all have outstanding issues with friends, relatives, ex’s, and loved ones who have passed away. We must not avoid them. Instead, we must be able to shed light on these emotions in order to stop clinging to suffering, loss or even resentment.
We will uncover the pain, air our grief, guilt or bitterness. Once we've exposed and recognized them, we’ll let them go. We will then close the circle and move forward.
4. Practice the continuum of consciousness
In Gestalt therapy, the therapist is to work on the “how” of the person’s experience. Not the “why”. They want to understand how the patient faces problems and how he lives with them. How he feels them and internalizes them.
To do so, we must make space to identify what his emotions and current sensations are. We elicit this information by saying things like, “tell me what you are feeling”, ”tell me where you are feeling it”, ”explain to me what you can see in right now”.
And we can also carry out this technique personally. We can practice the continuum of consciousness, making every sensation, thought and feeling come into being.
It’s not about overlooking or internalizing them. It’s about shining light on them and keeping them present in our thoughts.
5. Turn your questions into affirmations
This is another Gestalt technique that may seem very simple at first glance. But it is very valuable therapy. It helps us declare internal realities and mobilize resources.
How can we do it? It’s easy. We’ve all had one of those days when we say to ourselves: “Why do I feel this way? Why do I feel so hopeless and powerless?”
Gestalt proposes the following: turn questions into self-affirmations. Let’s see some examples.
Why do I feel so bad today? Today I feel bad. I’m going to make it possible to change this feeling and make tomorrow better.
To conclude, Gestalt techniques are as original as they are functional when it comes to helping us connect with our needs. They also invite us to take responsibility. To be brave with what we feel. And to act accordingly in order to grow.