Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

2019 Edition
| Editors: Jay L. Lebow, Anthony L. Chambers, Douglas C. Breunlin

Gestalt Experiential Therapy with Couples and Families

  • Charlotte J. McKernanEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_198

Name of Model

Gestalt Experiential Therapy


Client-centered approach; Experiential; Holistic; Humanistic; Systemic; Therapy of emotions


Gestalt therapy is a holistic, humanistic, experiential form of therapy that was developed to provide a more active alternative to conventional psychoanalysis (Perls et al. 1951). Its nomenclature is derived from the German word Gestalt for shape or form (Mann 2010) and is often used to refer to the concept that the whole of something is greater, more, or different than the sum of its parts. Gestalt therapy treats couples and families through this lens, emphasizing the relationship between members by enhancing awareness to sensation, perception, emotion, and behavior in the present moment.

Prominent Associated Figures

Gestalt therapy was developed by Frederick Perls, Laura Perls, and Paul Goodman in the 1940s and 1950s as an alternative to behaviorism and classical psychoanalysis. Gestalt therapy gained popularity steadily and, by...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Colorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Kelley Quirk
    • 1
  • Adam R. Fisher
    • 2
  1. 1.Colorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA
  2. 2.The Family Institute at Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA