Good Comparison Of Existential And Gestalt Approaches And Existential And Gestalt Theory Application Essay Example
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The differences between existential therapy and Gestalt therapy are somewhat distinct, though there are some parallels between the two approaches. In existential therapy, the focus of the counseling is centered around the finite nature of human existence and how that affects the way we live our lives. Client’s anxieties and concerns are placed in the greater context of their entire lifetimes and their legacy in the future after their passing, grounding them in a highly existential approach to human life. This may be helpful especially to a client who is dealing with issues relating to fear of death and their possible nothingness.
Gestalt therapy, on the other hand, focuses mostly on psychotherapy, and deals with an individual’s sense of personal responsibility, particularly in the present moment. Here, goals are for the counselor to get the client to be at peace with who they are and their lives as they are living it right then (Houston, 2003). Clients who benefit from this include individuals who suffer from body dysmorphia, for example, or who lament their passing youth and beauty, getting them to make peace with who they are.
In the case of Mary, I believe Gestalt therapy would work best for her, as her behavior and attitudes seem to stem from anxieties of the past and present, rather than concerns about the future. Her problems would be conceptualized in Gestalt therapy as being indirect behaviors and feelings (bitterness toward herself for being a bad mother, bitterness towards her boyfriend for being unambitious, a general discontent with her life) that need to be acknowledged and changed in the moment. Counselors would need to take care to treat Mary with respect, so she can learn to respect herself, and focus on cultivating good relationships with the people around her. Some specific interventions could include ‘open chair’ techniques in which Mary could talk to her husband/son in an empty chair, as well as intense talk therapy and dialogue with Mary about how she feels about herself (Conoley et al., 1983). However, Gestalt therapy may limit Mary’s ability to place her lethargy and depression in the greater context of her life, which may be better suited to existential therapy.
Conoley, C. W., Conoley, J. C., McConnell, J. A., & Kimzey, C. E. (1983). The effect of the
ABCs of Rational Emotive Therapy and the empty-chair technique of Gestalt Therapy on anger reduction. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research & Practice, 20(1), 112.
Houston, G. (2003) Brief Gestalt Therapy. London, UK: Sage Publications.
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