I too appreciate the work being done here at BOL with regard to a discussion of Gestalt Therapy. With regard to the usefulness of Gestalt techniques in CBT, and the idea that Gestalt is not a free standing theory but a technology to be utilized in the service of some other approach, however, I would like to disagree. It would be useful to consult the work of Iris Fodor of NYU, who writes on the integration of Gestalt theory and CBT, and the work of Leslie Greenberg, who synthesizes Gestalt and Rogerian approaches with CBT, in what he refers to as experiential psychotherapy.
Basically, Gestalt has a rich base of theory, whether one comes at it from the Perlsian perspective and sees field, phenomenology, and dialogue as its load-bearing walls (consult Resnick-Parlitt interview in British Gestalt Journal), or from the Gestalt Psychology perspective and follows the development and application of Gestalt principles in therapy as the Society for Gestalt Theory and its Applications (GTA) is doing in Europe.
This theory is experiencing an explosion of attention these days, if not an actual renaissance. Along with the advent of this site on BOL, Gestalt institutes are coming online and offering texts worth reading (ie. the writings of Margherita Lobb et.al. through the Italian institute), The Gestalt Journal ( http://www.gestalt.org/ ) offers a great intro text by Yontef (also referenced here), the Association for the Advancement of Gestalt Therapy ( AAGT - http://www.europa.com/~brownell/ ) offers material and links, Gestalt!, an electronic journal ( http://rdz.stjohns.edu/gestalt!/ ), will offer similar articles, and then there are manifold journals in hard copy, The Gestalt Review being a new one that shows promise of producing some excellent reading on theory and application. In addition, there are conferences galore! The Gestalt Journal is sponsoring one taking place right now, The GTA is putting together their 10th annual, and the AAGT will be hosting another one in April of 1997. These are all international in scope and extensive in terms of the presentation of Gestalt theory and practice. The ground supporting the theory and practice of Gesalt therapy is extensive.
Too many people conceive of Gestalt as a bag of methodological tricks one can dip into here and there as one does the real business of therapy. They associate it with the 60's, with an aging guru of the counterculture, or worse with ethical lapses and anachronistic extremism. These people do not understand that Gestalt theory is consistent with, and predates, the current interest in postmodern, constructivist and narrative approaches. It incorporates the best of interpersonal psychotherapy, something lauded by the APA a few months back on the cover of The Monitor. It upholds an existential emphasis as well, something not too many people are willing to acknowledge these days, but something that will undoubtedly increase in value as people continue to age and wonder about the meaning of what they do and who they are.
I hope this forum succeeds in bringing to light the real nature of Gestalt theory and therapy. Thank you, Brian, for hosting it. Good luck to you in your work!
Philip Brownell Sr. Editor, Gestalt!