Gestalt Therapy

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What Is Gestalt Therapy?

Gestalt therapy is the huge umbrella under which all of our therapy falls. It is the foundation for all of the work we do with clients at Kathryn Grooms & Associates Psychotherapy and it is the lens through which we see each those clients.

Gestalt therapy is holistic, experiential, and interactive. It focuses on the total person honoring the utility of the mind, body, emotions, and spirit. And, it helps clients recognize, trust, and draw upon all of these sources of experience as inner resources for change.

It may also be helpful to say what Gestalt therapy is NOT — it is not authoritarian, overpowering, or prescriptive. It is not a one size fits all modality of therapy. Rather, it is guided by a trained therapist with the purpose of helping the client discover and achieve whatever resolution or outcome they desire.

It is a humanistic psychotherapeutic approach focusing on awareness in the present moment and seeking to support individuals to free themselves of dysfunctional behavior patterns so they may live more fully. It addresses and recognizes how we place meaning and make sense of our world and our experiences.

As you consider entering into therapy with one of our exceptional therapists at Kathryn Grooms & Associates Psychotherapy in New York City, please know that Gestalt therapy serves as our blueprint, our North Star, and informs everything we do.

Generally speaking, the German word “gestalt” refers to the form or shape of something and suggests that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

This is a critical concept in dealing with many different therapeutic concerns including but not limited to: anxiety, stress, trauma, depression, relationships, harm reduction, and LGBTQ+ and BIPOC populations. By focusing in the present tense on feelings and body sensations, Gestalt therapy tunes in to what exists now, in this moment. And, in the process of focusing in the present, the individual becomes aware of underlying beliefs, patterns, and past experiences that contribute to or have caused current behaviors that may be standing in the way of current serenity and success. This awareness opens the way to create new choices, new behaviors and healthy change.

Gestalt therapy is very much a collaborative process between the client and the therapist. It relies on a cooperative relationship between therapist and client where the client brings their whole self, in the present moment, to the conversation.

It is also experiential, relying on past and present experiences, beliefs, and understandings, to help bring clarity to the client.

And it is also experimental, whereby the therapist may invite and encourage the client to explore different ideas, techniques, and therapies to stimulate the imagination, role-play, and consider ‘what if’ scenarios.

Gestalt therapy works with all of you. And, it can be used to treat anything. The goal is to help you, the client, access as much of yourself as possible in order to pursue integration of all of the various parts. From there, you are better prepared to make informed choices about how you want to live your life with that new awareness.

In every therapy session with any of our trained psychotherapists, we invite your whole self — your spiritual, physical, emotional, imaginative, and sensory self — to the table.

We work with clients, using Gestalt therapy modality, to help them identify what they prefer. And this act of a person deciding what they prefer is an act of personal freedom. Why? Because it allows clients to see that they have a choice. It is a very powerful way for them to move closer to their authentic self.

Through our therapy practice, we work with people to help them discover and identify their authentic self. Then, we help them embrace, accept, and actualize that authentic self. The real work in any kind of therapy founded in Gestalt principles is to unpack or heal whatever parts of themselves (jobs, trauma, relationships, anxiety, etc) might be getting in the way of moving toward their authentic self.

In discovering and reclaiming their authentic selves, our therapists help clients overcome any resistance they may encounter. This resistance may present as defense mechanisms, or “armor”, which we consciously or subconsciously build around our minds, our hearts, or our bodies, in response to various circumstances.

Our team refers to these responses or defense mechanisms as “Creative Adjustments.”

Let’s back up for a moment.

When we are very young, if our contact with our environment (parents, caregivers, siblings, etc.) is sufficient, satisfactory, and supporting, then we internalize these positive messages and gain a sense of freedom, confidence, ease, etc. We are in a healthy contact cycle.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for many people. In big and small ways throughout our lives, sometimes the contact we have with our external environment is less than satisfactory, unsupportive, and insufficient. When this happens, we make creative adjustments mentally, emotionally, socially, and even physically to compensate for what is missing.

We adjust ourselves to make do. And we learn this from a very early age, even when we aren’t aware we’re doing it. Consider a crying baby. Babies generally cry when they are hungry. They send a signal to those around them that they are hungry and wish to have this need met. If someone feeds them, the need has been met. If no one comes, they will eventually stop crying…however they haven’t stopped being hungry. They have simply adjusted themselves to cut off from that hunger and not have that need. This is what we call an unmet need. Yes, they survived and adjusted themselves, but the need didn’t go away.

The crying baby is but one example, but consider all of the unmet needs throughout your life and all of the creative adjustments you’ve had to make to the present day. As an adult, the unmet needs we carry are still there. And, they can often present as “interruptions” or disruptors in our life. They can affect our interaction with the outside world. They can affect us as we date, marry, or enter into any kind of partner or romantic relationship. They can affect us at work, with friends, and in social circles. And, they can affect us as we parent our own children.

Gestalt therapy invites a level of mindfulness and present day awareness for each client to better understand why they are thinking, feeling, or acting a certain way based on the adjustments they’ve made throughout their life to compensate for unmet needs. When working with one of our trained therapists at Kathryn Grooms & Associates Psychotherapy in New York City, we meet clients where they are. We are dedicated to supporting and empowering every client as they move through the exciting and often challenging process of change and growth.

Internationally known Gestalt therapist, Dr. Elinor Greenerg noted, “Most of us are in our bodies and we don’t know we’re not in our bodies. And if we’re not in our bodies, we’re walking around in a state of unresolved trauma.”

The very nature of Gestalt therapy is to be ever-present and ever-mindful and to help clients get inside their bodies to recognize and process unresolved trauma. Ultimately, when the trauma is processed and resolved, the client can move closer to their authentic self and to living a happier, more authentic life.


During this unprecedented time, you may be experiencing increasing feelings of uncertainty, loss, anxiety, fear, grief or rage. We are all experiencing a different reality and it can and will affect everyone very differently.

Whether you’re performing an essential job that requires long hours and potential risk to your health, or you’re navigating school re-opening, returning to work or continuing to work from home and practicing social distancing, please know that you are not alone.

We are pleased to offer the same level of compassionate care through the convenience and confidentiality of TeleTherapy services, accessible on your computer, tablet, or phone. We are welcoming fully vaccinated clients to return to the office for in-person sessions on a case by case basis.

Please stay safe and know that we are with you.

Have Questions?

Payment can be cash, check or credit card. (Please note: there is a surcharge of $2.50 per invoice.) Payment is expected at the time of each session. We are an out-of-network provider with all insurance companies. On a monthly basis we will be happy to provide receipts and/or completed insurance forms for you to submit for out of network reimbursement.
We request that you provide no less than 3 days (72 hours) notification to cancel appointments. We will make every effort to reschedule cancelled sessions within the same week, at no additional fee. If you cancel within the 72 hour period, and we are not able to reschedule within that time frame, you will be responsible for paying the full amount of our session. Note: this cannot be submitted to insurance for reimbursement.

Free Phone Consultation

We offer a free phone consultation prior to making an in-person appointment. Schedule online or call us today to get started.

Call Us: (347) 983-2233