Gestalt group therapy?
November 8, 2016 1:15 AM   Subscribe

Any thoughts on whether the Gestalt approach, esp. in its group form, is for me?

I've been struggling with mental health issues related primarily to anxiety, rumination, and intense self-criticism. I haven't been able to afford therapy but I saw that a Gestalt group is starting near me, and the price is within my budget.

I know little about Gestalt (and what I've found so far seems opaque) and nothing about group therapy. Is there any info you can tell me to help me decide?

posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (3 answers total)
It is opaque and I would not recommend it for anybody who is dealing with specific mental health / psychiatric / behavioral issues including anxiety disorders, depression, major mental illnesses etc. If ones goal is greater self awareness/personal growth etc. you might give it a go but ????. I have been through several Gestalt workshops and training experiences--my most vivid memory is doing an exercise when we were on the floor/eyes closed and we were instructed to do "what feels right". I quietly left the training ( unknown to others as their eyes were closed) and lo and behold one of my colleagues had done the same thing. We spent an enjoyable 1/2 hour sitting by the river. I don't remember any of us (20 +/- all therapists) feeling it was particularly helpful are useful. I think any benefit would depend very heavily on the skills/training/repertoire of the specific therapist.
posted by rmhsinc at 5:49 AM on November 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Gestalt can be pretty cool, but it isn't a match for everyone. Like pretty much all therapy, it really depends on the ability of the therapist and your personal chemistry with the group. It tends to focus on the here-and-now, a.k.a. what is happening intra-personally and inter-personally while you are in the room with the therapist. Gestalt therapists also tend to use "experiments" or activities during therapy. A good therapist will always invite you to try an experiment in a way that allows to you to say no, they should never demand that you try something. If the group fits your budget and otherwise seems like it would work for you, I would definitely give it a try!
posted by Otis the Lion at 10:26 AM on November 8, 2016

Yeah, there's pretty much no good research evidence to support Gestalt other than that going to psychotherapy is helpful on average (that is, averaging people with all kinds of different problems receiving all kinds of treatments). I agree wholeheartedly with rmhsinc that I would not recommend it (or any other nonmanualized treatment) for people with a specific mental disorder, including anxiety or depression. Most specific anxiety disorders have very rigorously-tested cognitive-behavioral treatments associated with them that should take about 3-4 months to resolve the issue for the majority of patients, depending on the specific diagnosis, how well your therapist is doing at sticking to the manual, and whether you are doing your homework and attending sessions. If you need some help finding a treatment like that at a sliding scale, feel free to memail me.
posted by quiet coyote at 3:17 PM on November 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

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