Fritz Perls - Psychology and Gestalt Therapy
Fritz Perls (1893-1970)
German-born American psychotherapist (pictured right)
Founder (with his wife, Laura, pictured right below together in 1930) of Gestalt
Therapy (see point 1).
Popular with hippies in the 1960's who were seeking self-fulfilment.
His most famous book
Gestalt Therapy (1951), co-written with Paul Goodman and Ralph Hefferline.
What did he teach us about psychology?
1. Gestalt Therapy
This emphasizes your independence and responsibility to yourself and
- giving people the freedom and help to find satisfaction and
2. The Gestalt prayer
“I do my thing and you do your own thing.
I am not in this world to live up to your expectations.
And you are not in this world to live up to mine.
You are you, and I am I, and, if by chance, we find each other, it’s beautiful”.
3. The mind and body are inseparable
The mind and body are one entity and totally interconnected, each
affecting the other.
So it is therapeutic to say or do something, if you think or feel it.
4. Awareness and honesty
The aim of Gestalt Therapy is to make you aware of:
So you must be totally honest with yourself.
A key question is ‘What are you aware of now?’, because of the importance of
the present (see point 5).
5. Live for today
Accept that the past has gone, and the future hasn’t yet arrived.
Be aware of your true feelings and thoughts and focus them on the present (“be
6. Change yourself
To improve your life, you must:
Accept the inevitability of change.
b) be proactive
Realize you have the power to change and make choices
I want to, or I can do, something, not...
I won't /can't /shouldn't do it - see also point 7.
c) take responsibility for changing your life
Do something about your problems, not blame others for them.
d) free yourself from dependency on others
e) accept and value yourself
7. Power over problems
a) find and accept your problems
This will give you the will to overcome them.
“Truth can be tolerated only if you discover it yourself”, Perls
b) be independent
- control your own actions and
8. Be true to yourself
Choose your actions and beliefs that allow you to be who you really
are, not what someone else wants you to be.
Key quote on
To mature means to take responsibility for your life.
Key quotes on learning and
Truth can be tolerated only if you discover it yourself
Learning is the discovery that something is possible.
Key quote on
Our dependency makes slaves out of us.