In gestalt psychotherapy the therapist’s role is to support the client to become more aware of how they relate to others, and to themselves; to explore with the client where there might be blocks or difficulties in expressing themselves authentically, to facilitate an exploration of how the client may better support themselves in relationship, and to feedback to the client some of the therapist’s own experience of the client, so that this might be explored in the context of the client’s relationships outside of the consulting room. In short, we get to use the therapeutic relationship as a kind of microcosm through which to examine what may (or may not) be happening for the client in other relationships.
Difficulties with authentic self-expression are frequently found in experiences of depression, anxiety, eating distress, addiction, and, of course, relationship difficulties. At its core, relational gestalt therapy understands that all human beings are wired for, and need, a sense of belonging and connection with others, whether in our primary relationships or, on a larger scale, in our communities. When we are struggling, we are often experiencing a sense of lack in this area in some way or another. It is understood that if we cannot express ourselves authentically and honestly, we will suffer a sense of ‘unbelonging’, as our real self cannot find a sense of belonging if it is hidden away behind a protective cover, or a conforming façade.