Buddhist Psychology and contemporary Gestalt Therapy
In recent years a number of therapy approaches incorporating Buddhist psychology and particularly mindfulness have been developed. Gestalt therapy views and methods align with Buddhist psychology views and meditation methods in fundamental ways. Gestalt therapy, since its inception in the early 1950s, has been experiential, focused on present moment processes, and on the importance of heightened awareness. Its model of change recognizes that change requires being with “what is.” Its dialogic and relational perspective support the therapist’s authenticity, allowing a meeting in which therapist and patient are engaged and present. These have always been cornerstones of the Gestalt therapy approach, making Gestalt therapy uniquely compatible with Buddhist psychology and mindfulness.
Gestalt therapy offers the psychotherapist who is interested in incorporating Buddhist psychology and mindfulness methods direction for their clinical application within an experiential, experimental, therapeutic model that is finely attuned to moment-to-moment process. Buddhist psychology and meditation practice also offer the Gestalt therapist ways of increasing the capacity for staying with what is, developing more trust in the present moment, and more wisdom and compassion—therapist qualities associated with positive treatment outcomes. Gestalt therapy practice, informed by Buddhist psychology views and therapist mindfulness practice, creates a unique opportunity in which both therapist and patient can experience the power of authentic, mindful, and engaged connection. Buddhist psychology informed Gestalt therapy (BPGT) integrates these two systems pointing the way to an expansive perspective on psychotherapy practice.