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Difference in concepts: The person centered theory and Gestalt theory

The person centered theory and Gestalt theory: Difference in concepts

The person centered theory is based on the assumption that we have the capacity to understand the problems we have and we have the resources to solve them. The therapist focuses on the constructive side of the client and that which is right to people.

Clients thereby move forward by looking within as opposed to outside influences. They simply undertake their own “problem solving dialogues” thereby granting them growth as change is initiated from within.  The client has the ability to change without a high degree of influence and direction from the therapist.

The Gestalt theory is based on the assumption that the people and their behavior must be understood on the basis of ongoing relationships with the environments in which they are in. The therapist thereby supports the client in identifying the different perceptions of reality.

There is need to be aware of self, which is the internal world, in order to make contact with the external environment. Change, on the part of the client, occurs as a natural process as a result of the awareness of the” what is”. Heightened awareness allows the client to understand things which were not previously clear to them.

Gestalt therapy works for many different types of counseling needs which include gender issues, poverty and crisis. The emphasis is on therapeutic meaning which can come from the client’s nonverbal behavior or language.

Differences in relationship: The person centered theory and Gestalt theory

Person centered therapists avoid evaluation and do not interpret for clients. They do not question clients or probe them neither do they criticize them. In the person centered approach, the therapist is expected to provide support, understanding, acceptance, and care towards the client.

Change evolves from within the individual. The therapist has genuine and deep respect for the client (Tan, 2011). In the Gestalt relationship, the therapist assists the client in exploring and is engaging as they may offer suggestions, guidelines and relevant information to contribute to the client’s awareness.

Analysis of therapeutic techniques

Person centered Gestalt
Simply listening empathically is sufficient for therapy

The solution to the problem must come from within

Therapist engages the client and may make suggestions and give opinions
Often for crisis or suicidal clients Works for people whose enjoyment of life is minimal and are internally restrictive

Works for those referred to as restrained or constricted, focus is on present characteristics-here and now

Techniques are not specific such as problem solving  or cognitive restructuring of the clients thinking or behavioral methods for emotional control Techniques include telling clients to own their feelings as they talk passively rather than actively


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