Cathie O'Brien  

  Gestalt Psychotherapy and Organisational Development, Supervision and Training 

Psychotherapy Adults

Deciding to have therapy can be quite frightening, for some people, and many people believe they will be judged by others or that it must mean there is something seriously wrong with them. This is a social stigma and the worry of how it may effect work or how they are viewed by work colleagues, friends and family is very difficult to manage - adding further  stress. Seeking therapy does not mean you are 'mad' or 'losing your marbles' and it takes a very brave person to seek help from someone else, to discuss their issues and explore how they can find equilibrium again. Life events tend to trigger all sorts of emotion and reaction and it is usually your nervous system in relation to your thoughts and feelings that has lost its balance. In its simplest terms, therapy re-balances the conflict between your thoughts, feelings and nervous system and this is generally done through talking - helping you to become more aware of unconscious processes, your senses, your feelings and what they mean. This process can help to integrate your different states into a functioning whole, alleviating anxiety and blocks that prevent you from achieving your personal goals in life. This is called self-regulation.

For some people, this imbalance started from a very young age due to the individual enduring, regular, traumatic events and for others it may have been triggered by a sudden traumatic or upsetting event.

Gestalt Therapy has been established for more than 70 years. Gestalt therapy is not a technique done by the therapist to the person, for instance going to the Dentist or Physiotherapist, it is a relational and collaborative process, empowering the person seeking therapy to have choices about their personal aims and goals.  Gestalt therapy works with the individual in the here and now. This means working with the past in the present moment; we all carry our past and our experiences into our present day. For instance, as someone talks about a past concern the Gestalt Therapist is interested in how this affects them 'now' and wonders how they feel 'now' as they are talking or expressing their concerns. The aim is to help the individual become more fully aware of how their thoughts, feelings and nervous system impact each other, sometimes creating  anxiety, depression or other forms of defences against the world they are living in – for instance remaining in a situation that is clearly making them unhappy. 

Amount and Types of sessions

Short Term Focused:

  • Short term therapy can be 6 to 12 sessions and is usually focused on a particular issue. Gestalt Therapy lends its self very well to short term therapy. The therapist focuses on how you are feeling and thinking, and how your body is responding to any mixed signals you may have about your issue. Mixed signals between thoughts, feelings and the nervous system can lead to people feeling stuck, anxious or depressed. Short term therapy is often more focused on symptom reduction rather than cause.
  • Psycho-educational: Aspects of short term therapy can be educational for instance explaining what stress and anxiety is and your bodies physiological reactions to thoughts, feelings or the environment. It can also give you some techniques that you can use to reduce physical symptoms and reactions such as mindfulness techniques.

 Long term Therapy:

  • Long term therapy: works well with long standing issues. The relationship between the therapist and individual becomes part of the focus, becoming aware of how an individual may adapt in relation to the other, as some peoples anxieties or problems are in relation to other people and the environment/context i.e. someone who always takes care of other peoples feelings and needs may well find themselves doing this in therapy and the therapist gently brings  this into their awareness.
  • Personal development. Some people enter into therapy for their own personal development, especially if they are training or practising as a therapist. (Also see coaching section)

 First meeting: It is useful to have a think about what may suit you best in terms of long term or short term therapy and this can be discussed during the first meeting. The first meeting is an assessment process for both you and I. 1) To discuss your worries and concerns. 2) To establish if I am the right person to work with you and if I can help you based on my qualifications and experience. 3) Your own assessment of me and the environment I work in - is this right for you?