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.

Speak up!

Ask your MP to oppose NICE’s draft guideline for depression

UKCP recently issued a press release urging NICE not to publish its guideline for depression in adults. They provide a bullet …

Stressed person

Millennial stress: the more things change, the more they stay the same

This year, Mental Health Awareness week is themed around stress. As part of this, the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy …

dandelions in a field

Weeds or flowers? How neurosis is all about context

One of the core concepts in gestalt psychotherapy is contact. Specifically, gestalt therapists are interested in what happens …