5 Unique Gestalt Therapy Techniques That Can Actually Work

Gestalt Therapy

Not all forms of psychotherapy are as monotonous as you may think. That image of sitting or lying down for hours while talking to a poker faced therapist (usually seen on screen), doesn’t always happen in reality. Depending on which kind of therapy, there can be many different methods and exercises available. Gestalt therapy makes use of both those common and not-so-common ones. As a therapy focused on therapist-client relationship, present experience, personal responsibility, and developing complete self-awareness, it follows the premise that a person is best understood as a whole, not through analysis of his separate parts. Here are 5 unique gestalt therapy techniques you have to check out:


The therapist calls to attention a behavior which might be connected to the client’s current emotions. It may be a movement, expression, or tone, such as foot tapping or frowning. They ask you to exaggerate the behavior to make you notice and create overall awareness.

Guided Fantasy

You visualize either an actual event from the past or a hypothetical situation as the therapist guides you. You can actually act it out. The therapist then helps you focus on what you’re thinking, feeling, and doing, while you’re immersed. The whole process is creative and experimental.

Empty Chair 

The most popular atypical technique. You imagine a specific person, a part of yourself, or you yourself, sitting in an empty chair across from you. You then have a conversation with them about a particular issue, situation, or emotion you’ve been experiencing. As it progresses, you may switch chairs to play the other role. The goal is to become aware of deeply rooted thoughts and emotions, or polarities of your personality you need to integrate. This technique is also especially helpful for mourning, trauma, and if you find it hard to express yourself to someone in your life.


Effective in helping clients find balance and wholeness, this technique involves using physical movements or activities such as dance, clenching and releasing parts of the body, visualizing or feeling areas of numbness, and looking into the body’s asymmetry (e.g. differences between right and left side perception). 


Not exactly the same as Freudian dream analysis, this gestalt technique emphasizes experience instead of interpretation. Meanings found are merely a rough guide. Symbols aren’t always obvious. Even color, temperature, or the atmosphere can be significant. Moreover, the therapist can’t interpret the true meaning of your dream. Only you can. You discover it when you become part of the dream and apply other techniques while doing so.

Unlike other psychotherapies, gestalt therapy places importance on the process instead of content–what’s currently happening over what’s being talked about. How you think and feel at the moment matters more than past actions, regrets, or future worries. Gestalt therapy is a humanistic and experiential approach that works for various concerns, ranging from mental health conditions (anxiety, personality disorders, depression, etc.) to relationship issues (couple or family). All in all, this form of therapy is worth knowing and experiencing. Don’t hesitate to ask for professional advice if you wish to try it for yourself.

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Written by Hannah Grace

A B.S. Psychology graduate who fights both real and imaginary shadows every day with music and words.

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