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Awareness and Acceptance: A Critical Analysis of the Theories of Health and Change in Gestalt Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

24 July 2006


The focus of this paper is on the strengths and weaknesses of two holistic psychotherapies, Gestalt therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), specifically with regards to mental health and therapeutic change. The purpose of this presentation and exploration is to argue for the integration of the two approaches, suggesting that the strengths of each approach can address the respective drawbacks of the other. The review of published literature guides both the presentation of basic philosophy and theory of each approach and provides the foundation for further discussion as to how the approaches parallel, differ from, and may be integrated into each other. Despite particular 'differences in emphasis and treatment perspective, the two approaches have distinct similarities, which allow for integration to be explored. The behavioral orientation of ACT is argued to provide a framework to support Gestalt therapists in empirical and managed care domains, while the phenomenological perspective of Gestalt therapy is argued to be the factor that will allow ACT' clinicians to fully utilize the humanistic elements in their therapy.


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