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EVALUATION

Overview

Several unique contributions have been made by the Gestalt counseling and psychotherapy model. One is the emphasis on the client's inherent wholeness and capacity for self- awareness (Bowman & Nevis, 2005). The work of the counselor or therapist is to help clients use focused awareness on their own to free up energy for health and growth. A second contribution is the application of dialogue in the counseling or psychotherapy relationship. The counseling or psychotherapy dialogue provides contact between the client and the counselor or therapist. Dialogue is used to engage clients, not to manipulate or control them. The goal of the Gestalt therapist is to embody authenticity and responsibility in conversations with the client (Daniels, 2004).

A third contribution is the emphasis on the counseling or therapy process rather than reliance solely on techniques (Melnick et al., 2005). Beginning practitioners often depend on techniques more than process to help their client. In the application of Gestalt therapy, this creates difficulties because the process of counseling or psychotherapy must accommodate itself to the personalities and experiences of the counselor or therapist and the client. This often makes it difficult for the novice counselor or therapist to pinpoint an appropriate technique to apply to a particular problem. In Gestalt therapy, any activity that contributes to clients' awareness of self, others, and their experience of the larger world is seen as useful.

A fourth contribution of Gestalt counseling involves dream work (Clarkson, 2004). The confrontation with "unfinished business" through dream work or other interventions allows the practitioner to challenge the client's past in a lively and provocative manner. The purpose of engaging the past is for the client to become aware of and work with concerns, even those from the past, that are a part of present experience and therefore undermine the client's current functioning.

A fifth contribution by Gestalt counseling and psychotherapy is its evolutionary shift from constructivism to social constructivism and the acknowledgment that organisms cocreate their own reality (Lobb & Lichtenberg, 2005). People are reactive and cocreate their own truth and reality. Gestalt counseling and therapy has helped the field of counseling evolve over time. Bowman and Nevis (2005) proclaimed that Gestalt therapy has increased a shared therapeutic worldview among practitioners as there "has been movement (a) from deconstructive views of the world toward holistic models of existence; (b) from linear causality toward field theoretical paradigms; and (c) from an individualistic psychology toward a dialogical or relational perspective" (p. 5).

Finally, in this age of requirements for accountability to those who pay for services, such as third-party payers, the Gestalt approach lends itself well to treating certain diagnoses. According to Seligman and Reichenberg (2009), Gestalt therapy is appropriate for treating certain affective disorders, including anxiety, somatoform, and adjustment disorders, as well as occupational and interpersonal problems, and according to Houston (2003), Gestalt therapy can be effective as a brief therapy to fit the managed care environment.

 
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