Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Gestalt therapy, Belonging (Social psychology), Gestalt therapists-Attitudes, Cross-cultural counseling, Authenticity (Philosophy), Identity (Psychology), Narrative, Racism, Dialogue, Privilege, Oppression


This qualitative study explored the experiences of how Gestalt therapists understand and apply principles of "authentic connectedness" when interacting across difference, such as race, culture, class, gender or sexuality, in both their clinical work and experiences in daily life. The researcher was especially interested in how these principles are used to understand and address interactions around privilege and oppression, which are dynamics that come up on a daily basis in American society, both within and beyond the therapy relationship. Ten Gestalt therapists, formally trained in Gestalt therapy, were interviewed and asked to describe interactions where they were cognizant of a power differential across identity differences from a Gestalt perspective. The majority of participants chose to discuss clinical experiences over interactions from personal daily life. These interactions were examined through the lens of many different Gestalt values, supporting the notion that Gestalt therapy is interpreted in many ways. Study findings indicated that participants were largely influenced by Gestalt therapy in formulating their responses during clinical interactions, although there was no clear indication that Gestalt principles were equally applied in personal interactions outside the clinical realm.




iv, 49 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, 2013. Includes bibliographical references (p. 41-42)