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Brief Intervention Strategies

Generally, Gestalt therapy has not been known for its brevity, and it lacks dimensions usually associated with brief interventions, such as quantifiable behavioral goals (James & Gilliland, 2003). Within a managed care setting, it is difficult for administrators to accept the types of treatment goals set in Gestalt therapy because insight is neither concrete nor measurable, two criteria for treatment planning within the managed care setting (Haley & Carrier, 2010).

The process of change and perceived progress of a client is considered a function of the whole field, which includes the client's motivation, the therapeutic relationship, the clinical setting, and the client's social world (Brownell, 2003b). Therefore, therapy can be a lengthy process and does not lend itself easily to a managed care setting. It should be reiterated here that Gestalt therapy is existential and phenomenological, and therefore the focus is not on facilitating behavioral changes within the client but on helping the client to develop insight and interpersonal awareness. The purpose is for the client to discover, explore, and experience his or her own shape, pattern, and wholeness and to integrate all of his or her separate parts (Clarkson, 2004). As a result of this insight and awareness, the client can achieve lifestyle changes (Burley & Freier, 2004).

However, given that Gestalt therapy is action oriented, it can in some ways be similar to cognitive-behavioral therapies, and therefore brief therapy benefits can be derived (Houston, 2003). There is no one way to conduct Gestalt therapy, and therefore it can be flexible to brief intervention (Brownell & Fleming, 2005). Gestalt therapy is interested in how a client does the things he or she does and in building self-awareness. This in turn can lead to the client making different choices in his or her life. As Houston (2003) stated it, "The aim of Gestalt Therapy is to awaken or mobilize people enough for them to get on better with their lives than they were managing before coming for help" (p. 3).

Houston (2003) advocated for brief Gestalt therapy (BGT), in which the client is active between sessions in applying the insight learned in session. Houston asserted that clients who are psychologically minded, insight oriented, motivated, and able to develop and sustain relationships are the best candidates for BGT. In this manner, BGT can be effective in as little as eight sessions.

 
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