Paradoxical theory of change

Gestalt therapy takes place from a position of creative indifference to any particular outcome. This means that, as your therapist, I’m not attached to you changing in any particular way; I don’t need you to change in order to feel good about myself as a therapist.

This is because the gestalt approach to therapy understands genuine change to be a paradox. Simply put, the paradoxical theory of change states that the more you try to be something you’re not, the more you’ll stay right where you are. Change is an organic process that takes place as a side-effect of organismic growth. Organismic growth is what happens when we make full contact with our experience.

In other words, we can’t truly change until we accept who we already are.

In practice, that means part of what I do as a therapist is accept you for who you are. That doesn’t mean I have to agree with you all the time; in fact, agreeing with someone all the time can be a great way of avoiding contact with someone! But it does mean accepting the differences. It also means not restricting you to who you are now but accepting the wide range of potential you have for being different than you are now. Accepting who you are includes accepting your potential for being different.

This is one of the aspects of gestalt I love the most because it is fundamentally about freedom; the freedom to be who you are, and to become whoever you need to be.

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