Effectiveness, advantages and dangers
Gestalt therapists are more artists than researchers. Clinical
experience and many case studies testify to the effectiveness of their
methods, but there is little objective research on Gestalt therapy.
Hardly any research exists on the self-application of Gestalt
techniques. However, their books are interesting, popular reading and
recommend self-application. The techniques are intriguing to most
Uncovering always involves some risks (presumably not as many
as leaving the feelings hidden). Because our garbage is inevitably
distasteful to us, rubbing our noses in it via new awareness may be,
for some people, a very emotional experience. Remember: increased
awareness may include increased self-criticism. Gaining insight is the
kind of experience that may best be done with a therapist. So, if you
become upset, it certainly suggests you need to get the unfinished
business cleared up, but with an experienced counselor's help in
uncovering and then cognitively and affectively integrating the new
awarenesses. The risks are no greater, however, than for most other
Autobiography, diary, intensive journal, and psychological
There are thousands of helpful psychology books. Books are often
used by therapists in a kind of therapy called bibliotherapy, in which
patients read and discuss psychological material in a group or with the
therapist (Fuhriman, Barlow, & Wanlass, 1989). Therapists of all
persuasions recommend selected readings to their clients.
Undoubtedly, we discover new things about ourselves by reading of
others' experiences--their thoughts, feelings, dreams, needs, altruism,
emotional problems, destructive urges, relationships, and frustrations.
We are similar in some ways to every other person. There may, in
fact, be a slight tendency in us to do almost anything anyone has ever
done (see method #1). Their emotions are our emotions. Their urges
our urges. Their insights become our new awareness. To know
ourselves, we must know others of "our own kind" intimately. Much of
that knowledge is in books and available to us, if we are open-minded.