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Dissertation

The Gestalt of Multiculturalism: An Analysis of Gestalt Therapy Theory in Light of Ethnic Diversity with a Focus on Organismic Self-Regulation

24 July 2009

Abstract

In the assessment of the utility of theoretical orientations for cultural appropriateness and sensitivity, examination of the foundational theory of these orientations is often overlooked in place of an emphasis on the efficacy and effectiveness of interventions and techniques. However, as interventions are ideally borne out of strong theoretical foundations, the importance of examining the implicit values of theoretical orientations is important. Gestalt therapy was examined as an example of a theoretical approach. Gestalt therapy is described by many of its practitioners as being highly sensitive and adaptable to culturally diverse clients due to the openness and inclusiveness found in the philosophical, theoretical, and methodological expression of the orientation. The implicit values embedded within the grounding principle of organismic self-regulation were reviewed to determine if the principle exemplifies a universal process of functioning or merely a culture-bound heuristic. Exploration of the ways Gestalt therapy’s philosophical foundations, theoretical attitude, and methodological style impact the implementation of organismic self-regulation in work with culturally diverse clients was also conducted. Organismic self-regulation was found to have two interconnected levels, one of which can be easily adapted to diverse clients due to the flexibility to different cultural norms and traditions that the level provides, allowing for Gestalt therapists to be able to work with theoretical consistency with culturally different clients.


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