Gestalt Therapy Effectiveness: A Systematic Review of Empirical Evidence

Rosalba Raffagnino
2019 Open Journal of Social Sciences  
Gestalt therapy (GT) is a humanistic clinical approach. The research concerning the efficacy of this model represents a controversial and quite poorly investigated topic within the general field of psychotherapy effectiveness. An up-to-date review of the studies concerning GT efficacy is currently lacking. Therefore, we conducted a systematic review of all available studies in the past twelve years aiming to give an overview of the most important findings of empirical researches published in
more » ... ernational peer review journals in English and Italian languages. A total of 11 studies were included in this review. GT intervention was shown to especially improve conduct in the group therapy setting-not only for clinical disorders, but also related to other social issues. Findings allow suggesting certain reflections concerning future directions in GT research. scholars and clinicians of GT, of the importance and the need to give a scientific dignity to this clinical approach [1]. Therefore, certain studies, researches, and reports have been presented, often associating scientific recognition to the possibility of using empirical methods that respect the values, principles, and even the method proposed by this clinical approach. For instance, Doric [2] affirmed that it should be considered a form of art, that is, "intuitive, holistic, and dynamic" (pg. 46). In the past, certain researches assessed the effectiveness of GT, recognizing its utility, and as affirmed by Elliott, Greenberg and Lietaer [3] "this body of research is continuing to grow rapidly" (pg. 4). In order to know the evidence for GT effectiveness in more recent years, it is important to summarize studies and researches that focused on a GT approach. As Fogarty [4] affirmed "If GT could establish its own evidence base, this would help GT both to claim its tradition and methods for itself and to receive the recognition and funding that these newer modalities are receiving" (pg. 45). Thus, in our systematic review, we focus on GT, and not on the integration of clinical models that used methods and principles of GT (such as Emotion-Focused Therapy) and we avoid considering papers focused on aspects, concepts, and principles of the Gestalt model, but refer to different clinical models. In fact, our interest is specifically to evaluate the effectiveness of GT and its clinical methodology in the context of Gestalt clinical principles and methods, in order to reveal its particular essence and to assess its effectiveness also as a method standing out from the general field of experiential psychotherapy which it is part of. Moreover, in accordance with Roubal and colleagues [1], we believe that it is important to develop a research in GT both in terms of the knowledge and praxis awareness development and the need for it not to be disregarded by the community of scholars and clinicians increasingly oriented towards the scientific evaluation of therapeutic work.
doi:10.4236/jss.2019.76005 fatcat:2qtzouv7hzcyfe72vtcjwghyce