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Psychotherapy & Personal Responsibility

Taking personal responsibility in one’s own psychotherapy can be quite empowering. I often find that patients have a difficult time doing so….i.e., it is always the “other guy’s ” fault! Gestalt Therapy lends itself to getting a client to focus on themselves.

Gestalt Therapy is an existential/experiential form of psychotherapy that emphasizes personal responsibility, and focuses upon the individual’s experience in the present moment, the therapist-client relationship, the environmental and social contexts of a person’s life, and the self-regulating adjustments people make as a result of their overall situation.


Gestalt therapy focuses on the process (what is actually happening) as well as on the content (what is being talked about). The emphasis is on what is being done, thought, and felt at the present moment (the phenomenality of both client and therapist), rather than on what was, might be, could be, or should have been. Gestalt therapy is really a method of awareness practice – also called “mindfulness”. The individual becomes mindful in the moment of what they are thinking, feeling and expressing. This allows the client to become aware of what he or she is doing and that triggers the ability to risk a shift or change.


The overall objective of this type of therapy is to enable the client to become more fully and creatively alive and to become free from the blocks and unfinished business that may diminish satisfaction, fulfillment, and growth, and to experiment with new ways of being!

Example: Often times I use the “empty chair technique”. This is used to explore a patients’ relationship with themselves, with aspects of their personality, their concepts, ideas and feelings. The technique involves speaking in the mirror or using an empty chair as if another person or aspects of their personality was in it. It is essentially a form of role-playing with themselves. It may sound a bit silly – however, it can be a very powerful experience in getting to know oneself!

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