Nevis (2014) indicates that gestalt therapy originated from the gestalt ideology and it refers to psychotherapy that helps individuals to concentrate on the present to understand the current occurrences in their lives rather than use the past events to interpret their present. Ideally, in the gestalt therapy, individuals learn how the adverse incidents in their past affect their perception of reality in the present and therefore making them unhappy. The underlying assumption in the gestalt therapy is that when individuals experience their history through re-enactment, they understand it better and manage the subsequent pain that makes them unhappy in the present moment.
Gestalt therapy has helped incarcerated men in U.S jails by enabling them to overcome their anger by reconciling them with their past. Re-enactment has allowed the imprisoned men particularly the African-American men who make the majority of the population to accept the past injustices committed against them and approach the presence with a new perception (Staemmler, 2016). The therapy enables the men to avoid transferring their anger to the rest of the population.
Furthermore, gestalt therapy has enabled incarcerated men to avoid returning to jail after completing their term as it makes them fit to live in the society. Cole and Reese (2017) indicate that the pain of the past generates negative feelings about the present and therefore when they overcome the same through the therapy they avoid committing other crimes after their incarceration. The treatment provides total healing that comes with mental stability, which changes the perception of the incarcerated men towards their present life.
The process of reenactment has disadvantaged imprisoned men in the U.S in the sense that it brings back the painful memories, which reawaken their anger, and even make them more violent and unhappy with their present life. Some of them find the memories too painful to overcome and thus to worsen their situation by making them even more violent and callous towards individuals in their environment. Pain arising from childhood trauma embeds in the subconscious of the incarcerated men and at times they project the same unknowingly to people around them (Philippson, 2018).
Moreover, gestalt therapy works selectively among the incarcerated men in the U.S and therefore does not provide a uniform solution for the entire population. The treatment disadvantages those who might be in dire need of help in the facility. Masquelier (2015) indicates that sometimes the procedure fails to work resulting in wastage of time and the unnecessary reawakening of the recent unpleasant memories. Sometimes the pain drives some of the men to commit suicide particularly those with weak inclinations to religious doctrines.
Nevis, E. C. (Ed.). (2014). Gestalt therapy: Perspectives and applications. CRC Press.
Staemmler, F. M. (2016). Aggression, time, and understanding: Contributions to the evolution of Gestalt therapy. Gestalt Press.
Cole, P. H., & Reese, D. A. (2017). New Directions in Gestalt Group Therapy: Relational Ground, Authentic Self. Routledge.
Philippson, P. (2018). The emergent self: An existential-Gestalt approach. Routledge.
Masquelier, G. (2015). Gestalt therapy: Living creatively today. CRC Press.
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