When arriving at a therapy session, a client may feel a range of emotions, such as anxiety, anticipation, or relief. They may be greeted by their therapist and shown to a comfortable space where they can sit or lie down. The therapist may start the session by asking how the client is feeling and what they would like to focus on during the session. The therapist may also explain the process of therapy and the goals of the session. The client may be encouraged to share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences in a non-judgmental and safe environment. Overall, the beginning of a therapy session is a time for the client to feel supported and empowered to work through their challenges with the help of their therapist.
Gestalt therapy is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on the present moment and the client’s personal experience of the present moment. The goal of Gestalt therapy is to help clients become more self-aware and better able to cope with their emotions and life experiences. One of the key interventions used in Gestalt therapy is the two-chair technique, which can be particularly effective for clients who are struggling with inner conflicts or difficult decisions. During a two-chair intervention, clients are asked to imagine themselves in two different situations or perspectives, and then physically move between two chairs to represent each perspective. This technique allows clients to explore and integrate conflicting emotions and viewpoints, leading to greater self-awareness and personal growth.
After every session, the counselor takes notes typically in the format found below. We call them “DAP” notes. In the made up example provided below, the therapist used the two-chair technique to help the client explore and resolve a conflict between two parts of themselves: the “critical voice” and the “compassionate voice.” By taking on each voice and physically moving between chairs, the client was able to better understand and integrate these conflicting parts of themselves.
The two-chair technique can be a powerful tool for clients because it helps to bring unconscious material into conscious awareness. By giving physical form to internal conflicts or dialogues, clients can gain greater insight into their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. This technique can also promote self-acceptance and self-compassion, as clients are encouraged to embrace all parts of themselves rather than trying to push away or suppress certain aspects.
Overall, the two-chair technique is just one example of the many Gestalt therapy interventions that can be used to promote self-awareness and growth. By working with clients in a present-centered and experiential way, Gestalt therapy can help individuals to overcome obstacles, develop a stronger sense of self, and ultimately lead more fulfilling lives.
Sample DAP Note
DAP notes (Data, Assessment, Plan) are a form of documentation used in therapy to record client progress and treatment plans.
Data: Client arrived on time for the session and reported feeling anxious about a job interview coming up next week. Client stated that she is worried about not being able to answer the questions correctly and not being good enough for the position. Client has a history of feeling unworthy and struggles with perfectionism. Client reported feeling tension in her shoulders and neck.
Assessment: Client appears to be experiencing high levels of anxiety and negative self-talk related to the upcoming job interview. Client’s tension in her shoulders and neck may be related to her anxiety.
Plan: Used gestalt therapy techniques to explore the client’s anxiety and negative self-talk. The therapist used the empty chair technique to help the client externalize her anxiety and have a conversation with it. The therapist encouraged the client to express her feelings and thoughts to the chair as if it was the interviewer. The therapist also used the two-chair technique to help the client explore her inner critic and challenge her negative self-talk. The therapist suggested that the client practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation to help relieve her physical tension. The therapist provided the client with homework to practice these techniques daily before the next session.
Future goals: The client will learn to recognize and challenge her negative self-talk and practice relaxation techniques to manage her anxiety. The client will also work on building self-confidence and self-worth.
Therapist: In the last session, we discussed your feelings of guilt and how it relates to your relationship with your sister. Can we explore that further today?
Therapist: Great. I would like to introduce a therapeutic technique called the two-chair technique. Would you be willing to give it a try?
Client: Yes, I’m open to trying it.
Therapist: Perfect. So, I’m going to ask you to imagine your sister sitting in this empty chair next to you. Is that okay?
Client: Yes, I can do that.
Therapist: Good. Now, I’d like you to express to your sister everything that you want to say to her about how her actions have impacted you.
Client: (speaking to the empty chair) I feel like you always prioritize your needs over mine. When you ask me for help, I feel obligated to say yes, even when it’s inconvenient for me. I feel guilty when I say no because I’m worried about how it will affect our relationship.
Therapist: That’s great. Now, I’d like you to switch chairs and respond as if you were your sister.
Client: (switching chairs) I understand that you feel that way, but I don’t intentionally put my needs above yours. I just assumed that you were willing to help, and I didn’t realize how much it was affecting you. I’m sorry for the burden I’ve placed on you.
Therapist: Thank you for sharing that. Now, I’d like you to switch back to your original chair and respond to what your sister said.
Client: (switching back to original chair) I appreciate you acknowledging how I feel, but I wish you had communicated with me more about your expectations. I also wish I had set clearer boundaries with you earlier.
Therapist: Excellent work. How do you feel now?
Client: I feel relieved to have expressed my feelings and to have had the opportunity to hear my sister’s perspective.
Therapist: Great. We can continue to use this technique in future sessions if you find it helpful.
At Contemplative Caregiver LLC, we believe that every person deserves a unique and individualized approach to therapy. There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to mental health and wellness. Every person is different and experiences life in their own unique way. That’s why we take a person-centered approach to therapy, where the focus is on the individual’s needs and goals.
We understand that each person’s journey is different and that people may need different therapists and tools at different times in their lives. That’s why our team of therapists and facilitators is highly trained in a variety of therapeutic approaches, including mindfulness-based transpersonal psychology, gestalt psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and dialectical behavior therapy. This allows us to tailor our therapy approach to each individual client, based on their unique needs and goals.
We also believe in the importance of developing a strong therapeutic relationship between client and therapist. A positive therapeutic relationship is essential for creating a safe and supportive environment for clients to explore their emotions and work through their challenges. Our therapists are compassionate and empathetic, providing a non-judgmental space for clients to feel heard and validated in their experiences.
At Contemplative Caregiver LLC, we are committed to helping our clients rediscover their sense of purpose and joy in life. We believe that everyone deserves to live a fulfilling and meaningful life, and we are honored to be a part of that journey.