Gestalt therapy: What it means to me

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I became a Gestalt therapist after many years of doing all sorts of self-development courses, reading loads of self-help books and looking for answers about myself, the meaning of life and what was my purpose on this earth.

I felt the need to understand the way I felt about things, why my relationships were the way they were, why I seemed to always stumble upon the same stones, and well, you know where I’m coming from, right?

However, after many years of searching, there was something missing. I didn’t seem to go deep enough, be connected enough and I just kept looking. Then one Easter week I joined a course called “Opening your heart to love” where I met a Gestalt therapist who resonated with me 100%. At the end of the course, I told him I wanted to have a session with him and learn more about Gestalt therapy. I had my first consultation and my life has never been the same since.

I started my own Gestalt process which gave me the tools to empower myself and discover all the things that were holding me back from being the best version of me. I initially went to see him because I was unhappy in my marriage and I didn’t have the strength to leave, but the process took me to places which needed addressing before I was able to tackle the initial demand.

It wasn’t until I had done the work on myself that I was able to divorce from my husband in a conscious and loving manner. While doing my work I also decided that Gestalt Therapy was my calling and that I was going to train to do what I had always dreamed of: supporting people on their self-discovery journey.

What is therapy?

Many people’s idea of therapy is connected to mental illnesses. For many, a person who goes to therapy is someone who’s mentally ill or suffers a mental disorder. Although it is true that people suffering from mental illnesses go to therapy and may use medication depending on their condition, not everyone who goes to therapy suffers from a mental disorder.

I believe this is important to mention because there is still such a stigma about doing therapy. It’s a double stigma really. On the one hand there’s the idea that there must be something really wrong with you if you go to the therapist, and on the other hand, there is the stigma of mental illnesses being a thing that no-one is supposed to talk about and having one is worse than having terminal cancer or AIDS.

It’s as if the mind was some sort of woo-woo organ in our body. Part of this has to do with the fact that we still know so little about the way it works in comparison to other areas of our bodies. However, advances are being made and education is showing us the importance of mental health.

Psychotherapy is what helps us learn to deal with our emotions, identify our feelings, face our fears, develop self-love, self-respect, set healthy boundaries, it gives us the tools to better deal with stress, to learn to live in the present rather than the past or the future, it helps us align our thoughts with our feelings and our actions in order to be coherent with who we really are.

Understanding how we work, who we are deep down, what our limiting beliefs are, what values we have, where we want to go, contributes to our happiness as human beings and help us improve the relationship we have with ourselves and consequently with others. Understanding that change is part of life and that it always starts with ourselves. This is how therapy can help us.

Gestalt therapy is based on four basic pillars:

1. Reaching awareness

The first one is reaching awareness and the awareness behind that awareness. The person may become aware of an issue and by going deeper become aware of what is beneath that.

2. Here and now

The second one is the here and now. In Gestalt we always work with the most prominent issue that is present at the moment of the session, as we believe there is only the now we can work with. Of course, that will probably take us further back, but we don’t start working recalling the past.

3. Auto-responsability

The third pillar is Self-Responsibility, that is, learning to become responsible for what is ours and knowing what is not our responsibility. This is of utmost importance as it develops self-support and self-trust.

4. Learn to accept ourselves with compassion and love

The fourth pillar is learn to accept ourselves with compassion and love, not only the parts we like about ourselves, but all the parts we so desperately want to change. There is no change that can be possible done from rejection, on the contrary, like Carl Jung said “We cannot change anything unless we accept it.”
I believe therapy can help us to be completely human by merging our bodies, our minds and our souls. The same way we nourish our bodies and exercise to be fit, our minds and souls also need to be looked after. What a different world this would be if we all took holistic care of ourselves! I have wonderful news for you: It´s never too late to start.