Since the 1930s, Gestalt therapy developed from psychoanalysis integrating various influences: Gestalt psychology and the holistic perspective, phenomenology and American pragmatism, the artistic avant-garde of Berlin and later of New York, and social and political activism. Two of the core aspects of this approach are the concept of self as emerging process and the field perspective. In this view, the experiences of both therapist and patient are influenced by the intrinsic tensions of the therapeutic situation, i.e., by the intentionalities of the field that tend to complete the assimilation process of what has not been fully experienced. Psychopathology emerges in the therapeutic encounter as an absence, i.e., as a difficulty in being fully present. The therapeutic process implies an emotional as well as corporeal participation on the part of the therapist, who allows for the emergence of what in the field pushes to take shape and be integrated. A clinical vignette is used in order to exemplify three paradigms that can describe the therapeutic change (the mono-personal, the bi-personal, and the field theory paradigms), and a detailed clinical case is discussed according to the field theory paradigm.
Keywords: Gestalt therapy; Psychopathology; Field theory; Self; Atmosphere