IMHO means “in my humble opinion” – it is an abbreviation used in emails. This is a series where I unashamedly express my opinions in a forthright manner. If you are easily offended it may be best not to read these posts.

In my humble opinion gestalt psychotherapy is the best.

First, a major disclaimer. Whether psychotherapy is successful depends most on the relationship between the ‘client’ and the ‘counselor’, what theory the counselor subscribes to is far less important. Counseling is all about human relationships.

This means that the competition among the psychotherapies is about how good their theory is. This is where gestalt is clearly superior.

  • First, the theory gives an account of our experience.

The most common version of this is a cycle going from rest through excitement and back to rest. There are other accounts for specifice types of experience. One of the best of these is the stages in working through a neurosis.

Most other psychotherapies lack this and so are barely theories of psychotherapy at all

– they are more like general anthropologies or psychologies.

Because the theory gives an account of experience it need not be tied to particular methods – just about any way of working can be used in the gestalt framework. It is easily the most accommodating and flexible of the theories. (That using lots of different methods hasn’t happened much in gestalt says much about the unwillingness of gestalt therapists to confront their anxieties and try out new ways of working. But this is a critique of the practitioners, not the theory).

  • Second gestalt’s definition of experience is superior.

Experience as gestalt defines it is the meeting of the person and their context (called ‘the organism-environment field’). This avoids two stupidities. This avoids the stupidity of experience being all interior – if I think right my life will be great. (This is popular with a vicious kind of social conservative – ‘sure your starving and oppressed, but all you have to do is re-frame your experience and think positive to be happy’.) It also avoids the complementary stupidity that people are victims of their environment – the line that runs, ‘psychotherapy is no good you just have to put up with awful events’ – the callousness of this I find chilling. Once we see that experience is the meeting of the person and their experience it is possible to speak in specific and useful ways about what can be done by this person in this situation.

  • Thirdly gestalt is superior because it allows the meeting of the ‘therapist’ and ‘client’ as human beings.

It is one of the major scandals of gestalt practice that it has allowed the invasion of professionalism into the client-therapist meeting. (Once again this is a criticism of the practitioners not the theory). The only other theory (unfortunately and unfairly often ignored) is that of Carl Rogers. Seeing as this is the most important factor for success a theory that can’t allow this (often speaking of ‘roles’ instead) is barely worth consideration.

So this is why I think gestalt is best.

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