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Benefits of Gestalt Therapy

Benefits of Gestalt Therapy

Gestalt therapy is a form of psychotherapy that’s often used in tandem with mental illness and addiction treatments.

It’s a holistic and humanistic approach that’s centered on helping individuals let go of past experiences and focus on the present. When it comes to treating addiction at our drug and alcohol treatment center in Chicago, the basic goal of Gestalt therapy is to help patients let go of negative thoughts and emotions related to the past and focus on their present experiences. The benefits of Gestalt therapy are numerous for those receiving treatment for a substance abuse disorder.

Brief History of Gestalt Therapy

Gestalt therapy was founded by Frederick “Fritz” Perls and his wife Laura in the 1940s. In 1951, their Gestalt therapy techniques were eventually published in Gestalt Therapy, a book that was written by Fritz and his colleagues Ralph Hefferline and Paul Goodman. Fritz created this method out of the belief that mental health problems are caused by a lack of self-awareness and accountability for emotions and behaviors. He believed that unfinished business from the past can create mental health issues and should be addressed. Mental health is directly linked to addiction; many individuals who engage in substance abuse do so to cope with symptoms of mental illness.

To address mental health issues related to unfinished business, Fritz developed Gestalt therapy to promote self-awareness. He believed that incorporating exercises that involve physical movement and reflection can help people better understand their emotions. Utilizing these exercises allowed him to evaluate their emotional responses to certain situations. When they established this practice, Fritz and Laura would train therapists in their New York apartment. Eventually, they established a formal practice in California.

Banyan Treatment Centers Chicago is a rehab center in Illinois that utilizes Gestalt therapy alongside other forms of addiction treatment. We’ve personally witnessed the benefits of using Gestalt therapy in many of our patients who complete our rehab programs and stay sober after leaving our facility.

How Does Gestalt Therapy Work & What Does It Treat?

Gestalt therapy works by incorporating exercises that connect behaviors with emotions in the present. This practice is based on the idea that reliving past experiences in the present offers a more accurate picture regarding these events emotionally. Simply put, Gestalt therapy encourages the individual to relive a past event so they can better understand the consequences of their behavior and release any unsettled emotions. During Gestalt therapy sessions, therapists focus on the patient’s feelings and reactions to certain events. They’ll create various activities to utilize during sessions to help the individual realize how their past has affected their present behavior. Usually, the therapist will have the client reenact a particular situation, and while they do so, explain how it makes them feel.

This form of psychotherapy focuses on the individual and how their behaviors and emotions contribute to their condition. By focusing on the source of an addiction or mental illness, the therapist can help the patient recover.

Gestalt therapy treats different conditions, including:

  • Mental illness or behavioral health problems: These include anxiety, major depressive disorder (depression), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), mood disorders, anxiety disorders, gambling addiction, and more
  • Problems related to physical health: Gestalt therapy has also been shown to help with sexual problems and migraines as well as manage pain caused by conditions like ulcerative colitis and muscle spasms
  • Relationship problems: This form of psychotherapy is also used to help couples identify any negative or destructive behaviors that affect their relationships and replace them with healthier behavioral patterns

The Benefits Of Gestalt Therapy for Addiction

Gestalt therapy is one of the many holistic methods that are effective in helping patients recover from substance abuse disorders. Behavior and past trauma are common contributing factors of addiction; using these forms of therapy can help patients better understand the connection. The Gestalt therapy method has been helpful to many patients who are coping with mental disorders and addictions.

Some the pros of Gestalt therapy include:

  • Increased self-awareness
  • Increased understanding of accountability
  • Enhanced ability to live in the present
  • Increased self-confidence
  • Improved ability to manage stress healthily
  • Opportunity to play an active role in recovery

While the benefits of Gestalt therapy are numerous, it does have its cons. For example, certain mental illnesses are caused by genetics and not necessarily results of past events or behaviors. This form of psychotherapy also doesn’t take into consideration the possibility that the person cannot control their thought processes. This form of treatment places the responsibility of changing mood and behavior entirely on the person’s shoulders, which may not be suitable for some patients.

While Gestalt therapy may have a few cons, it’s proven to be effective in helping patients recover from the psychological aspect of addiction, mental illness, and co-occurring disorders. If you want to learn more about programs like this one or PHP treatment in Illinois, call Banyan Chicago now at 888-280-4763.

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.