THE CASE OF MARIA: A GESTALT APPROACH
It should be understood that the goal of Gestalt therapy is not to facilitate direct change within the client through planned intervention but is, instead, to facilitate the client's awareness and insight into himself or herself using creative experiments (Daniels, 2004). Specifically, from the existential perspective, the goal is to help the client become aware of his or her subjective experience as fully as possible. The desired outcome is that the client will become more authentic as a person. He or she will be able to shed his or her "false self" and the "shoulds" that make up his or her life. The client will then make better choices that lead to a better life situation, will develop the ability for growth, and will become more integrated within the self, with others, and between the self and the environment. Through this enhanced awareness of the self, the client will gain self-acceptance and can take responsibility for his or her choices and be in charge of his or her own destiny.
The therapy objective for any client is to help the client become response-able and break through his or her stack points. The therapy is not directive but is experiential and is conducted through a conduit of the here and now and through the client-therapist (I-Thou) relationship. The focus is on the process and not the content.
Maria has experienced a series of disappointments and traumas in the last few years. She has survived an abusive relationship and the abandonment of herself and her children by her husband, she has endured estrangement and disapproval from her family of origin, and she is struggling to parent her children alone. She does not feel she is receiving any support from her family or her employer, and it is clear that she feels alone and hopeless. In other words, she feels stuck and is at an impasse in her life.
Maria has also introjected and internalized toxic material from her environment through the negativity of her family and other important individuals in her life. Therefore, she has not been able to differentiate herself from significant others' views or goals for her. This has led to confluence, which has contributed to her problems. In addition, Maria is not currently experiencing any support through a genuine, trusting relationship, and thus her growth has been hindered and she has experienced a negative view of self. Consequently, she has become out of sync with herself, her culture, and her view of the world, and she has lost contact with important others and has withdrawn from her children, her friends, her family, and even herself.