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Uwe & Andrea Muench

a missionary couple, a German physicist and an American teacher, changing the world
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Gestalt therapy

In psychology there are different schools for therapies, such as behavioral therapy, psychoanalysis, and Gestalt therapy. While those different directions of therapy might be helpful in certain circumstances (e.g. behavioral therapy for fast success in flight anxiety), I think that Gestalt therapy is the most effective in actually helping with causes instead of just symptoms of emotional distress.

In the last three years of high school, one of my teachers (Günter Birkenfeld, maiden name: Titz) started a Gestalt therapy group outside of classes, and I joined. When we started, he was in the middle of a three-year apprenticeship to become a Gestalt therapist.

I learned a lot in this group:

  • When you joined, you were committed. There is no such thing as having no time for something, it is a question of making time for something; if you really want something, you will be able to make time.

  • From time to time, someone new joined into this commitment. One time a new girl came. I didn't have any class together with her, I didn't know her, so only based on her appearance I had three prejudices made up im my mind right away. And in the next 90 minutes, she proved each one of them to be wrong. Although immediate judgments are not avoidable, I learned to re-evaluate them all the time. [In the movie "Breakfast Club", I think that the character Allison is there to teach to the audience that message].

  • Through experiences in the Gestalt group I realized that God speaks to me. While before I was indifferent in regards to whether God exists or not, I now concluded that He exists, and that He is alive and active. It still took me almost 12 years to understand all the details and what it means to follow Jesus, but it sure was an important and essential step.

Here are some principles Gestalt therapy is based on:

  • It is not about analyzing someone, the therapist just guides the person.

  • Authentic perceiption (or awareness of feelings and emotions) of the experiential present moment and the effect of reactions on the web of relationships and reality are emphasized.

  • Problems get broken down, one needs to die to the problems, and then he or she can build the solution, then a whole person can be built.

More info can be found in the Wikipedia entry.
There is also an old interview available, that develops into a Gestalt therapy session: A nearly forgotten interview with Fritz Perls (the co-founder of Gestalt Therapy) by Adelaide Bry.

I don't think that the founders of Gestalt therapy were Christians, but there are Christian truths that made it into Gestalt therapy. While not everything in Gestalt therapy is true, God used it to show me His presence and I am very thankful to Him for that.

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