Publication 2684

Portele G. (1989) Gestalt Psychology, Gestalt Therapy and the Theory of Autopoiesis. In: Goudsmit A. L. (ed.) Self-Organization in Psychotherapy. Springer, Berlin: 48–71. Fulltext at https://cepa.info/2684
First I present what is called the “core” of gestalt psychology: the “law of natural order.” It postulates a principle of self-organization. For Fritz Perls, the founder of gestalt therapy, the principle of “organismic self-regulation” is central to his theory of therapy. Furthermore I show similarities and differences between gestalt psychology and gestalt therapy on one hand and the theory of autopoiesis by Maturana and Varela on the other. After defining the goal of gestalt therapy as turning power relations into love relations, I explain the main concept in gestalt therapy “contact” and compare it with “structural coupling” in the theory of autopoiesis. At the end I quote part of a session with Fritz Perls, demonstrating some aspects of the therapeutic process and I show consequences of the theory for the relation between therapist and client.

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