Among the developing counselors, there exists the belief that the approaches employed in Gestalt therapy are “stern” and “aggressive”. In particular, Gestalt psychology is based on a theory that a human mind is inclined to see connections between objects and phenomena, thus perceiving them as unified happenings. For instance, a series of flashing lights on a Christmas tree or a neon sign is seen as moving even though they just flash in sequences creating an illusion of movement.
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In the same manner, a cluster of dots organized in a circular shape will be perceived as a circle as if the dots were connected. Gestalt principles include those of similarity, proximity, order, symmetry, closure, and figure; these principles explain how people tend to see the world around. According to Gestalt, the same principles are applied to the concepts of motivation, thinking, problem-solving, economic, and social behavior.
Family Systems Thinking and Freud’s and Adler’s theories are based on ideas similar to those used in Gestalt theory. In particular, Family Systems Thinking revolves around the perception of a family as a unified unit where the behavior of one member is interconnected with that of the entire group. The theories of Freud and Adler focused on the types of personalities, which, again, were characterized as unified sets of features determining their owners’ reactions, motivators, and behaviors based on the connections and quality of the personality traits. In that way, the latter theories work as the support of the approaches of Gestalt. Consequently, even though such approaches may be seen by some counselors as “aggressive” or “stern”, they are the dynamics noted by many other theorists and used as the bases for several different theories.