The Gestalt Institute of Cleveland

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Approach to Learning

The question we are asked most frequently is "What is Gestalt?" The German word gestalt means a complete pattern or configuration. A gestalt is a perceived whole. Gestalt theory is rooted in perceptual psychology, holism, and field and systems theory. Our faculty’s approach to teaching and learning embodies key principles from these theoretical perspectives:

Growth. We believe that individuals or organizations can be healthy, adaptive, and conducive to growth. The Gestalt approach seeks to raise awareness of obstacles to growth and to find creative solutions which support harmony between the person or organization and the environment.

Experience. We work towards heightening the awareness of self, others, or the group through experiencing and experimenting with new behaviors.

Present. Attention to the present experience is often the starting point for discovering the self or organization and its blocks to growth. Past experience is honored; we believe history can be appreciated best as manifested in present behaviors, perceptions, interactions, and processes.

Person or Organization as a Whole. Our Gestalt model embraces the person, group, or organization as a dynamic integrated organism. As complex systems, the intellectual, emotional, physical, and spiritual aspects of individuals are constantly working toward balance. Similarly, organizations are viewed as a whole entity with interactive parts. To focus on only one part of the individual or the organization lessens the potential for awareness, growth, and productivity.