Re: Gestalt and large group training
Date: July 12, 2012 02:33AM
I think there is something off about Gestalt therapy altogether. My experiences with people who are into it as counselors or clients is that they are cult-y. The exercises can be very psychologically dangerous. They dig in for extreme reactions so that you never know what you are going get.
Many therapists use a couple of Gestalt techniques - and I think that in the context of individual counseling with a counselor who is respectful and empowering towards the client, some of these techniques are legitimate and may be helpful -- I'm thinking in particular of "the empty chair technique" for addressing unspoken issues with an absent person, Gestalt dream analysis (which involves talking back to various parts of a dream), and paying attention to the body/exaggerating body movements/postures.
Other than those specific techniques (and in the context of client-centered, respectful, individual therapy), I caution people to stay away from Gestalt work. Many techniques generate and exaggerate intense negative feelings, infantilize clients, and break down important coping mechanisms, without first building new strengths, creativity, and resiliency in clients. That is a recipe for a cult-following and/or psychological trauma.