Peeling the Onion in Gestalt Therapy

Peeling the Onion in Gestalt Therapy



This presentation covers the five contact layers to peeling the onion in gestalt therapy, a sample session will be performed. Understanding layers help counselors determine where a client is at with regards to being in the here-and-now. Attention to contact strengthens client-counselor relationship and client growth. GESTALT AND CONTACT Gestalt is an existential-phenomonological approach. People are capable of using and becoming aware of their senses as they strive towards actualization. Striving towards actualization includes regulating the polarities within the human organism. The clientcounselor [I/thou contact] relationship is crucial in order for client change to occur. One method counselors can use to understand where a client is in terms of being in contact and here-and-now is referred to as peeling the onion (differing degrees of contact). The onion contains five layers of contact: Phony, Phobic, Impasse,

Implosive, and Explosive. Do not rush clients passed the first three levels (Phony, Phobic, Impasse); these three levels are the foundation for client self-regulation and to safely move towards actualization. The five senses, moving and dialogue foster contact. QUESTIONS PEEL THE ONION Peeling the onion is to get clients into the present moment to help them get a sense of their structure (the human organism/the self) by integrating ones neurotic mechanisms. Counselors must be authentic and always respect client resistances, yet, exploring contact resistances is crucial for the promotion of awareness, responsibility, and self-regulation. How and what questions are typically used to help clients understand themselves in the present moment. Questions relate to observations based on what clients present. How/What are you doing? How/What do you feel? What do you want?

How/What do you avoid? What do you expect? LEVELS OF CONTACT (LAYERS OF NEUROSES) Phony- Games, assumed roles, react in stereotyped, unauthentic ways. Pretending. Phobic- Avoidance (of pain), hide real self, act out fears, feel vulnerable and helpless. Denying. Impasse- Appear stuck and unable to meet counseling goals. No sense of direction. Implosive- Become aware of ways they limit themselves. Experiment with change of unfinished business and move toward integration of fragmented parts. Vulnerable. Explosive- Experience re-integration of fragmented parts, wholeness, authentic, gain energy, express emotions, move toward actualization and authenticity. Intense expression.

[Note blocks to energy: body tension, posture, closed, breathing, eye contact (cultural considerations)] REFERENCES/RESOURCES Corey, G. (2005). Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy (7th ed.). Brooks/Cole. Perls, F. (1969). Gestalt Therapy Verbatim. Moab, UT: Real People Press Perls, F. (1973). The Gestalt Approach and Eye Witness to Therapy. Palo Alto, CA: Science and Behavior Books. Polster, E., & Polster, M. (1973). Gestalt Therapy Integrated. New York: Brunner/ Mazel. Zinker, J. (1991). Creative process in Gestalt therapy: The therapist as artist. The Gestalt Journal, 14(2), 71-88. Violet Oaklander: Gestalt for children and adolescents. Windows to our children.

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