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Dissertation

An overview of gestalt therapy with a focus on the concept of resistance: Theory and practice

29 May 1987

Abstract

Since its development, Gestalt therapy has been widely practiced, but not always adequately understood. Its theory is complex and there has been a lack of development of a complete, literature, particularly of advanced texts. Gestalt therapy is based upon three philosophical foundations. These are: phenomenology, dialogic existentialism, and field theory. Its methods derives from these theoretical principles.

A major contribution of Gestalt therapy to the practice of psychotherapy is the way resistance is viewed. In early Gestalt therapy theory the view of resistance differed significantly from that of psychoanalysis. While psychoanalytic theory saw resistance as impediments to therapeutic change, Gestalt therapy viewed them as important and creative aspects of functioning. In looking at the current perspective on resistance in Gestalt therapy, and re-evaluating this concept from the perspective of the basic philosophical foundations of Gestalt therapy it is apparent that the concept of resistance is actually incompatible and inconsistent with the theory and practice of Gestalt therapy. This new perspective offers a valuable contribution to the practice of psychotherapy. It offers both a theoretical perspective and a therapeutic approach which allows the therapist freedom from evaluating patient behavior as resistance and consequently from having to do battle with the "patient resistances." This perspective may facilitate the development of the therapeutic alliance and allow the therapist to understand and support the patient's experience.


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