What is Gestalt Coaching?

What is Gestalt Coaching?

Learn about the Gestalt approach and how it is applied to Coaching


Gestalt is a German word that doesn't translate easily to English.  It means ‘pattern’ or ‘whole’ and when referred to in coaching, the emphasis is on the coach perceiving the coachee as a whole person.  As Gestalt coaches, we adopt a holistic approach, recognising many facets of the human condition: thoughts, feelings, behaviours, perceptions and spirit.

As Gestalt coaches, we seek to facilitate transformational change, the kind of personal change that’s more than skin deep.  We are not only focused on behavioural change but on supporting a growing awareness of the whole person.

The Gestalt coaches at Kinharvie Institute, invite you into a way of experiencing yourself more fully in the present moment.  Our primary goal is to facilitate awareness.  It is the skilful art of moving something that is out of your awareness so that it comes into awareness.  Once you are aware, you cannot become unaware and it’s this journey that can be truly transformational.  Furthermore, awareness precedes choice.  When you possess increased awareness about yourself and your situation, you can make better-informed choices.

Facilitating Change

When it comes to personal change, many coaching approaches focus on achieving some desired future goal.  Gestalt coaching doesn’t ignore this but there is more emphasis on focusing on what is now rather than what should be.  The paradoxical theory of change in Gestalt states that change occurs when I become what I am, not when I try to become what I’m not.  Gestalt coaching is transformational because it supports you to becoming more of who you are.  It is in following this path that you gain access to your future potential.

The transformational change achieved through awareness in Gestalt coaching is made possible through the unique relationship established between the coach and the coachee.  As Gestalt coaches, we offer a quality and engaging relationship inspiring you with courage and simplicity to become more than you are at present.  It’s a relationship forged on openness, honesty, respect and trust.  We don’t judge!  Instead, we employ curiosity with an optimistic stance where we believe people are doing the best they can with what they know and have at this moment in time. 

In co-creating safe experiments and a commitment to homework, the coachee enters into new experiences of discovery that are designed to facilitate awareness and understanding of self.  Self-discovery is the catalyst for truly transformational personal change and is the hallmark of Gestalt Coaching.

A typical session involves:

The Beginning Stage 

  • Co-creating the relationship and space within which the work can happen
  • Exploring the clients agenda
  • Contracting with the client the focus of the session and their desired outcome

The Middle Stage

  • Co-inquiring and working in the here-and-now with the client’s choice of focus
  • Facilitating learning through co-creating experiments
  • Reflecting on learning and generating insights

The End Stage

  • Summarising the key insights and learning
  • Moving to action by creating a plan for bring the new awareness to life
  • Appreciating the new ‘what is’ and what has been accomplished
  • Closing

Chris Partridge, one of our coaches, produced an article with Juliann Spoth (from the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland) on the Gestalt approach to coaching, published in the April 2013 issue of Coaching Today.

In this four page article, Chris and Juliann introduce the Gestalt approach to coaching, describing some of the core concepts and methods that guide Gestalt coaching. Click on the image below to read their article. 

To learn more about the Gestalt approach to coaching or to book a coaching session, click here to submit your enquiry .

If you are interested in training as a coach, see the 'Coaching' tab on our training page.

Download Chris's article by clicking on the image.