Short about Gestalt

Gestalt theory is used by organisational consultants (as Feedback Academy) and by therapists. Gestalt was developed by Fritz and Laura Pearls in the 1930s. Gestalt theory has its foundations in psychoanalysis, zen buddhism, existentialism, the body therapy of Wilhelm Reichs, phenomenology, field theory, Buber’s dialog philosophy and in Gestalt psychology.  Gestalt theory underlines the importance of living in the now and that the individual needs to be made aware of itself and the own behaviour. Gestalt theory says that an increased awareness by itself leads to change.

Gestalt theory is based on a humanitarian, existential and holistic view point. ”Gestalt” is in German translated to whole, form or figure. We are aiming to create and understand entireties. Something that is unfinished is not ”whole” and that results in unbalance and leakage of energy. When you view a detail (figure/gestalt) you need to be aware of the background to see all the details. The gestalt psychologists that research cognition and perception  say that humans constantly try to create meaningful entireties with as little energy output as possible.

Gestalt theory is experience based and process oriented and sets the dialogue on what is happening and being perceived right here and now. By seeing the possibilities and increasing the awareness about what is, the own story and how it effects and limits the now, it is easier to reached desired change. Gestalt theory discusses contact stiles that describe the quality of the contact in a dialogue.

According to the gestalt viewpoint can individuals and groups be fully understood only when they are seen as a part of a field, a context and a surrounding. In field theory forces and counter forces are studied, for example those who want to preserve what is and those who want change. In a group you can ask questions like what and who influences who. According to field theory we co-create the field and thereby each other in each moment. The system theory shows different systems and their limitations. Every system is operating in its own context and searching for balance. To understand a system that is being used, there is the need to step one level down and one level up in the system. To for example understand a group there is the need to know about the organisation that the group is a part of, and the subgroups that the group has.

Some Gestalt keywords are:

Wholeness – Ending – Figure/foundation

Contact – Here & Now – Dialogue

Awareness – Responsibility – Resistance


Gestalt discusses the importance of researching the resistance that is appearing here and now rather that to go in to a struggle (which only increases the resistance).