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What Does a Gestalt Psychologist Do?

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  • Written By: T. Carrier
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 20 October 2014
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For individuals interested in the human mind and human behavior, psychology is an ideal career choice. One may choose from numerous specialties based on personal interests, and Gestalt psychology is one such option. The Gestalt psychologist approaches psychology from Gestalt theory, and these individuals may also practice Gestalt therapy. Key features of this work include an emphasis on wholeness, awareness, and present action. Following completion of traditional psychology schooling and training, one may wish to join a Gestalt-oriented organization for further career guidance.

This branch of psychology is not so much a career choice as a theoretical perspective. Perhaps the only essential Gestalt psychologist requirements are subscriptions to the principles of this theory. At a basic level, this form of psychology considers the whole of an individual rather than the individual parts. All of the mental and physical parts of a person should be viewed as interlocking and inseparable. Perception, or the way one views things, plays a key role in this outlook, as does the observation of patterns and categories in human thinking.

A Gestalt psychologist interested in research does not necessarily conduct typical scientific experiments in a laboratory setting. Rather, observation is more important. These observations should also occur in natural settings rather than the reproduced and artificial settings generated by many traditional research experiments.

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A therapeutic approach known as Gestalt therapy may be another common practice of the Gestalt psychologist. This therapy emphasizes analysis of a person’s present life, rather than the past focus employed in many other counseling approaches. Social relationships and environmental factors are evaluated, as well as how individual’s respond to these cues.

Self-awareness and perceptual understanding are the ultimate goals in Gestalt therapy. The psychologist guides a patient to this understanding through observation, questioning, and ultimate description on the part of the patient. Description does not merely mean talking, however, but rather moving the patient to action through processes like play-acting a troublesome situation. Fostering a positive therapist-patient relationship is another important consideration. These outcomes will theoretically lead to a happier, more well-adjusted individual.

If one is interested a Gestalt psychologist job, many organizations throughout the world offer increased understanding and training in Gestalt approaches. Some large-scale sponsors of Gestalt psychologists include The Association for the Advancement of Gestalt Therapy and the European Association for Gestalt Therapy. As with any psychological career, an individual must also receive advanced educational training, usually at the master's degree level minimum. Certification may be required as well, depending on one’s individual career aspirations.

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