As the first ”integration” theory to successfully oppose widespread reductionism in the behavioral sciences during the 1950’s, Gestalt is an organic model that focuses on bringing into conscious awareness and choice one’s exterior and interior reality in order to achieve personal coherence and satisfaction (Perls, Hefferline & Goodman, 1951).
Gestalt concepts that describe and support these organic processes of integration are:
Paradoxical Theory of Change
A paradox is something (a statement, a situation) that appears to be self-contradictory or absurd, yet is actually valid or true. The Gestalt understanding of change was developed by Arnold Beisser, who defined the process this way: The Gestalt practitioner “believes change does not take place by ‘trying,’ coercion, or persuasion, or by insight, interpretation, or any other such means. Rather, change can occur when the [client] abandons, at least for the moment, what he would like to become and attempts to be what he is.” That is, authentic change begins with full acceptance of and investment in one’s current state of being rather than the dogged, cognitive pursuit of a desired future state.
Cycle of Experience
The Cycle of Experience is a core Gestalt conceptual tool for tracking correspondence between awareness, choice, and self-responsible action.
Whether with or without awareness, sporadically or chronically, our Cycle of Experience may be interrupted. Any change, even if desired, provokes resistance as a natural response.
Although change is an inevitable part of life, people sometimes intentionally orunintentionally continue patterns of behavior that do not serve their desires or goals.
UNIT OF WORK
Unit of Work is a Gestalt procedural frame of reference, used in conjunction with the Cycle of Experience, to organize coaching interventions around client issues that present habitual or chronic patterns of frustration (themes).
Presence and Use of Self
Gestalt-based coaching can be called “metamorphic” or “transformational” coaching in that it seeks to elicit client change through awareness, choice, and integration in ways that are profound, liberating, and self-sustaining.