Academic journal article Review of Artistic Education

Gestaltdrama as an Integrative Psychotherapeutic Approach

Academic journal article Review of Artistic Education

Gestaltdrama as an Integrative Psychotherapeutic Approach

Article excerpt

(ProQuest: ... denotes non-USASCII text omitted.)

1. Introduction

The following text is an overview study which defines the basic phenomena and effective factors of Gestalt drama and outlines some of the researches carried out in this area by the author during recent years. Gestalt drama is the name of a specific psychotherapeutic approach applied by the author in his practice, which combines Gestalt therapy with expressive approaches (especially with dramatherapy, theatrotherapy and fairytale-therapy). This approach can be used not only for individuals with mental illness (possibly neurosis) but also in the self-development of people with psychosocial hazards or disruptions. Consequently, the author often works with children and adolescents with behavioural problems, adults with burnout, with homeless people, etc. (Cf. Ruzicka, 2013.) Dramatherapy consists in the application of theatrical means in therapeutic intervention. It is a therapeutic-formative discipline involving mainly work in groups and the theatrical means are used to influence group dynamics; it is focused rather symptomatically. (Cf. Valenta, 2001 and Müller, 2014.) Theatrotherapy can be defined as an expressive therapeutic-formative approach consisting in the overall preparation of the theatrical form and its subsequent presentation to the audience with a therapeutic-formative goal, whose participants are usually individuals with special needs. (Polínek in Müller, 2014.) Fairytale-therapy is a psychotherapeutic approach falling into expressive therapies which use fairytale imagery to achieve therapeutic targets. (Polínek in Müller, 2014) Gestalt therapy is a dialogical method that is based on the phenomenological approach and awareness. In dialogue with the client, the therapist distinguishes perception, feeling and acting from mere interpretation. The basic objective is to make the client aware of what he/she does, how he/she does it and how it could be changed. In Gestalt therapy, we focus rather on the process (What is happening?) than on the content and interpretation (Why is this happening?). (Cf. Roubal, 2010, Yountef, 2009, Mackewn, 2004.)

2. Effective principles of Gestalt drama

While the expressive-formative approaches (dramatherapy, theatrotherapy and fairytale-therapy) provide very effective and safe methods and techniques for universal work with any client, the Gestalt psychotherapy offers models and constructs of how to understand the therapeutic process, how to approach a client or group. When applying all these approaches, we find an amount of common effective principles. The author believes that the definition and subsequent application of these principles can significantly streamline the therapeutic (or self-development) process.

Holistic approach

It means that the whole being is perceived and influenced at once (when accepting his/her mental, physical, rational, social and spiritual dimensions). Dramatic and literary arts are synthetic (comprised of many different interconnecting and influencing components - dance, visual arts, music, drama, creative writing ... but also a contact with the audience, the stress before the premiere, etc.); Gestalt drama thus may affect the human subject from different angles, in different ways, it can act simultaneously in various areas (Polínek in Hutyrová, 2014). The basic thesis of Gestalt therapy is also a holistic approach. F. Perls (1996, p. 13), the founder of Gestalt therapy, says: "First and foremost, we have to take into account that the body always works as a whole. We do not have liver or heart. We are the liver and heart and brain, etc. ... We are not simply the sum of individual parts but a coordinated whole ..."

Projections, metaphor - a safe distance

Already Aristotle, in his Poetics, describes some ability of drama to cleanse the viewer (catharsis) by arousing grief (eleos) and horror (phobos) (Gronemeyer, 2004); therefore, he also presents a kind of therapeutic effect of the theatre. …

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