I think Gestalt therapy is the therapy of ‘the moment’, and I think a client’s ‘modus operandi’, let’s say, outside of the therapy room, is repeated in the interaction with his/her therapist. The therapist can help to straighten out what goes on between the client and his/her therapist in that ‘moment’, and when that is succesful, the client can take that experience outside and function more smoothly, more happily in the outside world. Silly example: suppose a client has the inner rule that he always must pay the exact amount the session costs, so as not to ‘encumber’ the therapist who will have to need change to give back, even if the client has to bend over backwards to always have the right amout in cash with him. This could be a very interesting ‘gestalt’ to work with.
As living beings we go from one need to the other, when one need is satisfied an other arises and so on. We hit problems or stalemates/impasse when we can’t satisfy a need and our mind starts distracting ourselves from the present and obsessing or developping neurotic and other ‘unhealthy’ behavior because of that unsatisfied need. Unlocking that block frees the energy and the client can move on. The client reiterates his strategies for dealing with the world within the client-therapist relationship, the therapist can gradually make the client see how he does that and in which way this is a working strategy or a self-defeating strategy.
So as the shortest possible elevator pitch I would say: Gestalt therapy is the therapy of the moment. The client always relates to a context. The contact between him and the outside world and the relationship to himself and others can be harmonious or disrupted. By observing what the client says and what happens between therapist and client (process) the client can adopt more satisfying ways.’
I’m sure I didn’t get it right, but I’m very interested in Gestalt therapy and my thoughts on the matter are constantly evolving. I’m also getting more and more interested in the work of Peter A. Levine and his somatic experiencing approach to healing trauma.