Today I am returning to my semi-regular exploration of practitioners and theoreticians that I have found invaluable in the formation of my work and worldview, in service to the idea that psychotherapeutic counseling be something that seekers participate in rather than simply consume.
Today I'd like to honor Frederick “Friz” Perls who, along with his wife Laura, and, perhaps more peripherally, philosopher and social critic Paul Goodman brought Gestalt Therapy to life. To a certain degree I owe the very foundation of my work (and worldview) to that which was begun by the Perls' in the 1950's.
Poorly understood, Fritz was a lion...a deeply flawed, unrelenting genius who tore psychotherapy out of the grasp of both the behaviorists and the psychoanalysts and demanded that the whole entity be honored rather than dissected. Laura grounded this practice in a deeper theoretical frame and did much of the heavy lifting that Fritz abandoned as he succumbed to the inevitable cult of personality that formed around him in the later 1960s. And yet, their formulation of Gestalt Therapy--a type of humanistic Western Zen with therapeutic applications--transcended them both. Rather than write more, I turn to this brief video of Fritz, in his own words.
“The idea of Gestalt Therapy is to change paper people into real people.”
We are bombarded with information at all times of the day and night. Social media, newsfeeds, emails (personal and work related) all clamor for our attention. Yet how we engage with such shapes our daily experience. Particularly valuable are the first minutes of our days.
Do you roll out of bed and immediately connect to the online world? That may be a mistake. The first 15 to 30 minutes of our day sets a tone. Imagine awakening, stretching, enjoying a warm beverage, breathing deeply and connecting with yourself or a partner, engaging with some light exercise. Grounding yourself in the day. How different is this from rubbing the sleep from your eyes while scrolling through a twitter feed? How might that shape you as you move into the faster paced world of obligations and demands? How we begin often shapes how we end.
Bryan Dieterich, MA, LPC