Gestalt therapy is a type of therapy used to deepen our awareness of ourselves. According to O’Connor and Braverman, (2009) “Gestalt" implies wholeness. “Gestalt therapy is a process-oriented, experiential therapy that is concerned with the integrated functioning of all aspects of the person: senses, body, emotions and intellect.”
Gestalt therapy can be described as process active, experiential work and can help shed light on suppressed feelings by helping us focus our awareness on feelings in the present. In working through negative the client can realize negative behavior patterns that may have become ingrained. Understanding the relationship between what we tell ourselves (bad gestalts) and negative thought processes and can become a part of the healing process. Through this form of therapeutic process, individuals can become better equipped to understand themselves and make better or healthier choices, creating a unity of mind, body and spirit.
When Gestalt theory is applied to taking of responsibility for problematic life experiences, the experiential work lies in assisting the client in taking ownership, self-examination, then making choices and resolving difficulties. When theory is applied to a play therapy relationship, the therapist enters into a partnership with the child, in a process where goals focus on empowerment of the child. This process is described in Oaklander, (2011). “Anger is the most misunderstood of all the human emotions. We tend to think of anger as basically distasteful and abhorrent -- something that we would rather not experience.” Oaklander posits that anger is a direct and unique expression of self, and the basic attempt to defend an inner personal boundary.
Reflecting on a comment in a live session of class, a colleague offered an experience in which a young child says, "NO!" repeatedly. Oaklander would refer to such behavior as basic, almost primal expression of “self.” Using a loud voice and a negative reaction reflects directly from a core being state. Without the cognitive ability or verbal repertoire, expression of basic feelings is influenced by anger. “Self” becomes diminished due to lack of expression, and deep-felt feelings become buried somewhere inside. (Oaklander, 2011)
In the developmental process, children try to make their way through the world. The world can be confusing and frustrating for them as they try to avoid disapproval and negative consequences. Rather than being personified, anger moves beyond and below the child’s awareness. Some children may become withdrawn, sad, or develop somatoform physical symptoms. “Other children may become physically combative, or go toward another extreme and become self -anesthetized or hyperactive. (Oaklander, 2011) Oaklander refers to such behaviors and symptoms as behaviors that mask fearful authentic expressions that “are actually the child's fierce attempts to cope and survive in this...