• Gestalt Therapy
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Gestalt Therapy

Treatment St. Augustine FL

Gestalt therapy is a successfully proven method of treatment for mental health issues such as anxiety or depression. Therapists who implement gestalt therapy use creative and experiential methods to help the patient focud on the "here and now." At Dr. Paul's By The Sea, we utilize the gestalt method to help our clients who struggle with an anxiety disorder and other mental illnesses and have used drugs or alcohol to cope. Our St. Augustine addiction treatment center will replace the negative coping strategies that patients have formed with positive methods that they learned through gestalt therapy.

The Gestalt Method

Created in the 1940s by Friz and Laura Perls with Paul Goodman, it is described as an experimental and humanistic therapy type. Originally it was designed to be used as an alternative to conventional forms of psychiatry and psychoanalysis. Gestalt therapists use different techniques to create self-awareness in patients and help with personal growth.

Gestalt therapy addresses the past by examining how those events affect the person in the present. This type of treatment is centered on the present moment and the patient's increase of awareness as they experience their current thoughts, emotions, and perceptions to understand how these impact their reaction and behavior.

Many different conditions can be treated by gestalt therapy, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Relationship Issues
  • Low self-esteem
  • Low self-efficacy

The ultimate goal of gestalt therapy is to get the patient to look at a conflict or emotion in an abject way through different exercises and experiments. The therapist will use these methods to induce a feeling or reaction that can be examined more deeply by the therapist and patient.

The "Here and Now"

The concept of gaining awareness in the "here and now" is a large part of gestalt therapy. By utilizing the exercises and experiments used in treatment, patients can uncover suppressed or masked feelings or emotions. Focusing on the present allows patients to learn how to trust their feelings and develop a sense of self-awareness.

Experience and Perception

No one can be completely objective. Past experiences and their environment will always influence people. Trying to forcibly change a patient's ideas or perceptions of their experiences can be detrimental and stunt that person's treatment. During a therapy session, counselors will listen to a patient's "truth" without enforcing their judgment or influencing the patient's experience. They accept what the patient says as the truth and then help them accept and trust their thoughts and emotions. Doing this eases the distress that the patient is feeling.

What's the Context?

Context matters. Gestalt therapists want their patients to discuss their experiences in a safe and accepting space. At the same time, they understand that the context of that experience is essential and will work with the patient to become more aware of the incident and their perceptions and reactions. Therapists let patients work through this on their own, offering guidance when needed.


Gestalt therapy techniques usually involve different types of experiments and exercises that will cause an emotion or reaction. This is done to help patients discover which past experiences could have triggered their anxiety, depression, or low self-esteem. These exercises and experiments encourage patients to push past any mental roadblocks that could keep them from accomplishing their treatment goals.

gestalt therapy

One type of experiment or exercise that is implemented is the empty chair technique. The empty chair technique is a form of role-playing. The patient is placed across from an empty chair and is then asked to imagine that someone they know, such as a friend, relative, or colleague, is sitting in the empty chair. The therapist then instructs the patient to create a dialogue between themselves and the person they imagine is sitting there.

Doing this helps the patient connect with that person's thoughts and behaviors, allowing them to become aware of the whole situation rather than just their view. Therapists can also instruct the patient to place "themselves" in the empty chair, essentially talking to themselves about the situation and why they reacted or felt they did. This can help the patient become more self-aware of their feelings and emotions.


Counseling & Psychotherapy

At its heart, gestalt therapy is a holistic approach as it focuses on addressing the patient's whole. It addresses the belief that people are influenced by the perceptions of their environment and life experiences. During sessions, therapists will implement empathy and a non-judgmental attitude towards the patient to create trust. Creating this type of relationship enhances the patient's experience and furthers their treatment progress.

A therapy session will not typically follow a specific outline; therapists are encouraged to be creative and base their treatment plan on the individual patient's personality and needs. The constant found in gestalt therapy is the direct contact between therapists and clients with exercises and experiments. Each encourages patients to develop self-awareness and remain focused on the here and now.

Benefits of Gestalt Therapy

Using gestalt therapy can be extremely beneficial for people who have difficulty staying in the present and obsessing over past experiences. Gestalt therapy allows people to remain in the present and not focus on the past. It can also be used to:

  • Improve communication skills
  • Build a tolerance for negative thoughts / emotions
  • Increase ability to understand emotions
  • Become aware of the patient's own needs
  • Improved self-control
  • Ability to monitor and regulate mental health

Gestalt therapy can help improve a patient's ability to create better awareness of their thoughts or emotions and how that corresponds to their actions and behaviors. Once this is understood, patients will be able to:

  • Monitor their thoughts and actions in the present
  • Uncover repressed feelings
  • Trust their emotions
  • Create a sense of freedom and control
  • Engage in conscious and thoughtful activities in "real-time"

Joint Commission Accredited

Dr. Paul By The Sea is fully credentialed and licensed in the state of Florida by the Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Healthcare Organization (JCAHO). JCAHO is unanimously considered the gold standard of addiction treatment by industry professionals. Knowing that the facility has obtained this certification should be a top priority for individuals to look at when researching to find the right inpatient or outpatient treatment facility for them. 

We dedicate our facilities and treatment methods to ensuring that we provide the best available recovery options while maintaining professional levels of care. Please contact us today and hear how our caring staff of experts use their experience to implement evidence-based treatments to make sure each of our patients receives the most effective treatment regimens.


Gestalt Therapy at Dr. Paul's By The Sea

Therapists at Dr. Paul's By The Sea can assess each patient and determine which therapies would best benefit them. Every person is unique and could have specialized needs, such as requiring treatment for mental illness and addiction problems. Gestalt therapy can prove useful for patients that struggle with being present in each moment and getting overwhelmed by their emotions.

Gestalt psychology is a useful tool in helping patients see the connection between their thoughts and reactions to the present and how that leads them to engage in substance abuse. Instead of unconsciously reacting to situations, patients can gain more control and serenity in the present. Increasing awareness can be an excellent way to help the mind become healthier and more positive, reducing harmful and destructive thoughts. Gestalt therapy can have immediate effects on improving a patient's mood and state of mind to focus on their recovery.

At our addiction recovery center in St. Augustine, we can help you become self-sufficient and provide you with the tools you need to live a healthy and fulfilling life. If you or a loved one need help, contact us today.


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