Gestalt Family Therapy

Gestalt Family Therapy

By: Isatou Susso

  Gestalt therapy integrates the body and mind factors, by stressing awareness and integration. Integration of behaving, feelings, and thinking is the main goal in Gestalt therapy. Clients are viewed as having the ability to recognize how earlier life influences may have changed their life. The client is made aware of personal responsibility, how to avoid problems, to finish unfinished matters, to experience things in a positive light, and in the awareness of now. It is up to the therapist to help lead the client to awareness of moment-by-moment experiencing of life.  

The therapist may use confrontation, dream analysis, dialogue with polarities, or role-playing to reach her goals. This may include treatment of crisis intervention, martial/family therapy, and problems in children’s behavior, psychosomatic disorders, or the training of mental health professionals. The gestalt family theory is not just one theory, but the family system theory involves a variety of other theories into one to help families such as self-perception theory and expectant theory. The area of marriage and family counseling/ therapy has exploded over the past decade. Therapists at all levels are expected to work effectively with couples and families experiencing a wide variety of issues and problems. 

Most of today’s practicing family therapists go beyond the limited number of techniques usually associated with a single theory. Members in families naturally take on different role. In a healthy situation, these roles are flexible and change as they need to and are appropriate for the situation. In unhealthy situations, these become fixed or rigid. The common element is all of these roles are the desire to escape pain, gain self-worth, and avoid reality. As children, these roles were our coping mechanisms. Today, I believe that our marriages and relationships suffer because we carried these dysfunctional childhood roles into our current situations.

  The following are some dysfunctional roles. The enabler vows to keep the family secrets in order to keep peace. She constantly bails family members out of trouble, which keeps the other family members from experiencing the consequences of their behavior. The hero is the overachiever. His or her overachievement takes the focus off the family’s problem. The scapegoat is the child who “takes the heat” or gets blamed for the family’s problems. The scapegoat will almost always rebels and seek attention in unhealthy ways. The lost child deals with family’s problems by denying his or she exists. She will spend a lot of time away from the family. Family members may not even notice he or she is missing. The mascot may be referred to as the family clown. This is often the younger child. The mascot will attempt to keep the peace and diffuse painful situations by telling jokes or performing humorous stunts.

Sculpting is developed by Duhl, Kantor, and Duhl (1973), family sculpting provides for recreation of the family system, representing family member’s relationships to one another at a specific period of time.  Family sculpting is a sound diagnostic tool and provides the opportunity for future therapeutic interventions

The Genogram is a technique often used early in family therapy, provides a graphic picture of the family history. The genogram reveals the family’s basic structure and demographics (McGolddrick & Gerson, 1985). The gestalt family theory is not just one theory, but the family system theory involves a variety of other theories into one to help families such, self-perception theory and expectant theory. 



*Sherman, R. & Fredman, N. (1986).  Handbook of structure techniques

 *Stuart, R. (1989).  Helping couples changes. New York: Guildford Press.


One Response to “Gestalt Family Therapy”

  1. “Gestalt Family Therapy NutriPsychTherapy” was indeed a great article,
    cannot wait to go through much more of your blog posts.

    Time to squander some time on the internet lolz.

    Thanks for the post ,Randolph

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