Tin Soldiers on Jerusalem Beach

By Amia Lieblich | Go to book overview

Overview of Gestalt Therapy

Gestalt therapy is a name for a philosophy, a psychological theory, and a therapeutic technique based on the contribution of Fritz Perls.* Since its main forte is doing rather than talking about, many of the available theoretical formulations of this approach lack clarity, and the best way to fully comprehend Gestalt therapy is through the experiential mode. Though reading the records of the sessions to be presented in Part II of the book is some way to experience Gestalt therapy, albeit vicariously, and is thus, from what would be assumedly the opinion of Fritz Perls, preferable to an attempt to describe the approach in any systematic manner, some readers may profit from an overview of the assumptions, aims, and techniques that underlie the present work.

Recently, there has been a growing number of books and papers that provides comprehensive explications of Gestalt therapy. Since the focus of the present book is on Israel rather than on therapy or psychological theory, the following section on Gestalt therapy is merely a shorthand presentation.

Gestalt is a German word meaning "whole" or "configuration." It was used by Perls to convey his belief that people are total organisms functioning as wholes; that there is no sense in dividing mind from body, consciousness from unconsciousness, knowing from feeling, etc. According to German Gestalt psychology, the gestalt as a whole is more than the sum total of its

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*
The references to the books upon which this review is based are listed in the suggested reading section at the end of the book. This review stems also from my personal training in Gestalt therapy with Dr. James S. Simkin.

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