Gestalt Therapy and OCD
Insight into Gestalt therapy for OCD can be understood as making the patient “aware of personal responsibility, how to avoid problems, to finish unfinished matters, to experience thing in a positive light, and in the awareness of now" (PsyWeb, 2010).When treating patients with OCD, Gestalt therapy may prove useful as it teaches the patient how to interact with their surroundings in a responsible way.
The patient is taught that they alone are responsible for their actions. For those with OCD, this means that the patient has control over their behaviors and can change or correct those behaviors. OCD, along with other disorders, can involve “splitting," a term that simply means that the individual separates themselves from negative behaviors or actions. “For example, the child separates the father whom she depends on for love and protection from the father who abuses her. This allows her to preserve an image of the 'good' father, but at great cost. She is left identifying herself as 'bad' in order to make sense of the abuse." McClendon, 1994). Gestalt therapy addresses this and helps correct it.
Peter Philippson from the Manchester Gestalt Centre tells his clients “that the obsessions and compulsions are energy-diversions from anxiety, 'volume controls on anxiety', and the optimum for therapy is to adjust the volume control to permit some anxiety through to be worked with, but not so much as to overwhelm them (we take images of "going berserk" seriously)."
By showing the patient how to control the compulsions and neurotic behaviors, Gestalt therapy can help them to overcome OCD.