The founders of
- Frederick "Fritz" S. Perls
- Paul Goodman
Gestalt therapy was developed by Fritz Perls, Laura Perls and Paul Goodman in the 1940s and 1950s, and was first published in the 1951 "Gestalt therapy".
Gestalt therapy is an existential/experiential form of
psychotherapy that emphasizes personal responsability, and that focuses upon the individual's experience in the present moment, the therapist–client relationship, the environmental and social
contexts of a person's life, and the self-regulating adjustments people make as a result of their overall situation.
Gestalt therapy focuses on process (what is actually happening) over content (what is being talked about). The emphasis is on what is being done, thought, and felt at the present moment (the
phenomenality of both client and therapist), rather than on what was, might be, could be, or should have been. Gestalt therapy is a method of awareness practice (also called "mindfulness" in
other clinical domains), by which perceiving, feeling, and acting are understood to be conducive to interpreting, explaining, and conceptualizing (the hermeneutics of experience). This
distinction between direct experience versus indirect or secondary interpretation is developed in the process of therapy. The client learns to become aware of what he or she is doing and that
triggers the ability to risk a shift or change.
The objective of Gestalt therapy is to enable the client to become more fully and creatively alive and to become free from the blocks and unfinished business that may diminish satisfaction,
fulfillment, and growth, and to experiment with new ways of being.