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Utilizing Gestalt therapy in an inpatient setting with patients experiencing psychotic episodes: A training for interdisciplinary teams

Robert J. Yoder, Pacific University

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The purpose of this study is to develop a Gestalt therapy training that can be utilized for inpatient interdisciplinary teams working with individuals experiencing acute psychosis. In the acute phase of psychosis individuals may be experiencing any combination of hallucinations, delusions, disorganized speech, and disorganized behavior. Although the American Psychological Association provides evidence- based standards of practice to work with individuals diagnosed with Schizophrenia, the information about addressing their needs in the acute phase is limited. Although hospital staff members on behavioral and psychiatric units are trained to address the needs of these individuals, providing care can be difficult due to the patient’s disorganized state. The proposed training is being developed based on the core principles of Gestalt therapy (i.e., phenomenology, field theory, and dialogue). Utilizing these principles staff will be trained to address individual needs of the patients, address the needs of the patient utilizing the therapeutic milieu, and strengthen their own interpersonal awareness. A case example is used to describe the training components. The next steps in the development of the training will be implementing the training on an inpatient unit. If the training is successful it could be modified to train other individuals, including outpatient therapists, first responders, and family members that interact with patients in acute phase psychosis.