Gestalt therapy and cognitive therapy--contrasts or complementarities?

Psychotherapy (Chic). 2010 Dec;47(4):586-602. doi: 10.1037/a0021185.


The article investigates the relationship between crucial concepts and understandings in gestalt therapy and cognitive therapy aiming at discussing if and how they can be mutually enriching when considered as complementary parts in a more encompassing integrative therapeutic approach. It is argued that gestalt therapy, defined as a field-theoretical approach to the study of gestalt formation process, can complement the schema-based understanding and practice in cognitive therapy. The clinical benefits from a complementary view of the two approaches will be a wider scope of awareness toward individual and contextual aspects of therapeutic change processes, toward different levels of memory involved in these processes, and toward the relationship between basic needs, sensation and cognition in therapeutic work. Further, a dialogue between the two approaches will pave the way for addressing the connection between fundamental awareness work in gestalt therapy and the tendency within cognitive therapy toward incorporating mindfulness as a therapeutic tool. In the conclusion of the article, additional complementary points between the two approaches are outlined.

MeSH terms

  • Awareness
  • Character
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Conflict, Psychological
  • Defense Mechanisms
  • Emotions
  • Gestalt Theory
  • Gestalt Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Mental Recall
  • Object Attachment
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Psychological Theory
  • Spirituality
  • Trust