THE GESTALT DIFFERENCE
Self-discovery is the catalyst for deep-rooted change and is the hallmark of Gestalt Coaching. Through conscious awareness and choice-making, Clients achieve personal coherence and alignment.
WORKING WITH RESISITANCE
Gestalt Coaching creates an environment of psychological safety that enables the Client to have new experiences and discoveries that facilitate deeper understanding of themselves. It holds the belief that emotion and failure are both pathways to learning. Growth occurs best through exploring behaviors that would otherwise be too ‘risky’ without the supporting presence of the Coach. The Gestalt coaching encounter offers a safe arena where vulnerability, strong emotions, and failure can play themselves out in the service of learning and growth. In this process, the relationship of trust established between Coach and Client makes change possible.
Gestalt Coaching strives to create a level playing field, thereby positioning Coach and Client as equals. As the Coach assists the Client in exploring parts of self or their process, the Coach takes care not to exert authority.
The Gestalt process inspires Clients with the courage and support to become more than they are at present. The coaching relationship is free of hierarchy and is built on openness, honesty, respect and trust. Rather than judge the Client, a Gestalt Coach employs curiosity with an optimistic stance with the conviction that Clients are doing the best they can with what they know and have at this moment in time.
Gestalt coaching allows the Coach to detect interruptions or blocks in the coaching process, i.e., resistance to change. Recognizing the complexity of human experience, the Gestalt coach makes constructive use of resistance by keeping in mind the Paradoxical Theory of Change.
From a Gestalt perspective, Resistance is best understood as “energy in multiple directions” The Gestalt coach sees that the value of resistance lies in its adaptive and protective powers and, therefore, does not treat Resistance as something to be overcome, but to be understood and integrated.
The Client is encouraged to embrace the Resistance as a reality and energy that is useful but mis-directed. Rather than condemn the resistance as a deficiency, it is welcomed as a source of strength. Bringing out from the interior what was unaware or invisible enables learning and change to occur; the more the Client understands and accepts their current reality, the stronger the possibility of a transformational shift and new behaviour.
SELF AS INSTRUMENT
CLIENT AS RESOURCE
A central tenet of Gestalt Coaching is the ‘use of self as a coaching instrument’. Through the use of self, Gestalt Coaches draws on their personal experiences or knowledge that are most pertinent for heightening the Client’s awareness. This allows Clients to improve ways in which they scan their internal and external environment, gather data, and make sense of that data in order to make choices for productive action.
The emphasis is on connecting and building the relationship with the Client instead of focussing on tools, providing the right answers, or pushing the Client towards a goal. It comes down to being in true contact in the present moment to support the Client in finding their truth.
In Gestalt Coaching, the Client is regarded as whole, healthy and resourceful. This attitude differentiates Coaching from ‘Therapy’, which traditionally construes the Client to be deficient in some manner, and in need of remediation. Gestalt Coaching eschews therapeutic, remedial problem-solving, accepting instead the premise that the Client already possesses the necessary resources to meet their needs and achieve their goals.
Another difference between Gestalt Coaching and Therapy can be seen in the idea of Resistance as an adaptive and positive force that serves a protective function for the Client; Resistance must not be ‘overcome’ or eradicated, but rather brought into awareness and worked through in a way that enables the Client to recognize its constructive function and to re-channel its energy as a support in the current situation.