Creative Gestalt Therapy

Susanna Holland

What is Gestalt?

Gestalt is an embodied, relational and creative approach that supports us to explore our experience. Gestalt in German literally translates into shape or form and is a concept for seeing our perceptions, patterns and structures as a part of a whole not as loose separate parts. Thus in Gestalt therapy there is a process of understanding the whole of our lives. In this way it supports our curiosity, creativity, awareness, resilience, our connection with ourself and others and brings us into contact with what it means to have a full and satisfying life.

Gestalt Psychotherapy was forged from wide ranging influences and began to be developed in the 30’s. It combines; Psychoanalysis, New Physic’s, Existential Phenomenology, Gestalt Psychology, Buddhism, Experimental Theatre, and continues to evolve. But essentially it is:

Existential and Phenomenological:

Phenomenology is the study of experience; existentialism is the study of what it is to exist. Gestalt therapy seeks to get close to our experience, not why so much as how our experiences impact us and in studying this we might start to make sense of what Gestalts or patterns are being recreated in our lives. How do we make sense of suffering, death, isolation? What gives meaning to our lives?


It is a relationship where the therapist sits alongside the client with compassion and authenticity. I seek to bring myself into the relationship as a whole person whilst also bracketing my own personal judgements however I may include my responses where appropriate. Developmental theory has also impacted Gestalt and sees that our early relationships are often replayed in our current lives and that the therapeutic relationship is a place of potential relational repair.

Holistic or Field Theoretical

Every situation and person can only be assessed and understood when seen as a whole in the full context of life. Therefore Gestalt is interested in all the possible aspects that are a part of our field of experience; our past and our present, what is missing and what is dominant. What is whispering in the corner and how these aspects inter-sect in how we are in the present. Seeing with a lens of the connectedness of all things can increase our awareness of the impacts of events and experiences we hitherto did not acknowledge or process. Perspectives on our behaviour, culture and values can take on a different shape.

Creative and Experimental:

Rather than just talk we seek to experiment and try out new ways of doing things, within the therapy room or out-with it. I use embodied, and creative approaches and in a safe contained way experiment with new ways of doing things that can support the process of overcoming trauma and deal directly with anxiety and depression. This may mean connecting to our body using mindfulness and grounding techniques, playing with clay, using objects, painting, writing or re-enacting a situation. Through using curiosity and play we can experiment and thus build up confidence to do things differently in our lives.

“Therapy is a process of changing awareness and behaviour. The sine qua non of the creative process is change: the transformation of one form into another, of a symbol into an insight, of a gesture into a new set of behaviours, of a dream into a dramatic event. Thus creativity and psychotherapy are interconnected at a fundamental level: transformation, metamorphosis, change.” Joseph Zinker