Gestalt Psychotherapy Is Becoming Increasingly Popular in Bulgaria

ESD 17:01:01 10-01-2019

Gestalt Psychotherapy
Is Becoming Increasingly
Popular in Bulgaria

Sofia, January 10 (Desislava Toncheva of BTA) - Psychotherapy is becoming increasingly popular in Bulgaria but people are not fully aware of the opportunities it offers, Diana Kalitsova, President of the Bulgarian Association for Gestalt Therapy (BAGT), said in a BTA interview on Wednesday. The Association presented their specific approach to psychotherapy at a news conference in Sofia earlier this week.

Members of BAGT explained that Bulgaria lacks unified requirements for psychotherapists and many people practice without proper training. BAGT makes sure its members meet a number of criteria, such as a four-year psychotherapeutic training, periodic master class trainings, long-term personal therapy and regular supervision and makes sure that the therapeutic work is up to their ethical code, which can be found on their website.

Gestalt therapy is a good solution for a number of problems that are increasingly common: anxiety, depression, panic attacks, etc. It is also a very good supportive tool for more serious mental problems and illnesses, but only in a working partnership with a psychiatrist, Kalitsova added.

The BAGT President explained that psychotherapy also could accompany and support a person at any point of their life because it serves not only for treatment but also for self-exploration and support.

What distinguishes Gestalt therapy from psychoanalysis and cognitive behavioral therapy for example, is its main focus on the present, rather than on past causes or future changes. Gestalt therapy aims to help the person get to know, accept and learn to support himself through an authentic and equal therapist-client relationship.

Gestalt has a specific outlook which is very much focused on the idea that there are no "wrong" people who need to be "fixed", but rather they have to find their own specific solutions that fit them, the association explained.

This type of therapy is practiced in many countries around the world, including Italy, USA, Greece, Poland, Denmark, Australia and even Nepal. Gestalt therapy first came to Bulgaria in 2012, when Elena Ilieva opened the Bulgarian Gestalt Therapy Institute.

Training in the institute takes four years and meets the requirements of the European Association for Gestalt Therapy. More than 30 therapists have graduated from the Institute and have opened their own practices, and about 50 more are currently being trained.

Kalitsova explained that Gestalt psychotherapy can be used in individual therapeutic work, couples therapy, family therapy and group therapy as well as in short thematic workshops. It uses a variety of methods, such as dialogue, art therapy, experiments and body work, aiming to increase the person's self-awareness and help them discover the best way for them to live more fully, she noted.

In many countries the Gestalt approach is applied not only in psychotherapy but also in organizations, BAGT added. Many professionals from helping professions abroad are also trained in the Gestalt approach, such as doctors, social workers, even policemen, the association said.

Kalitsova also spoke about what a person can expect when deciding to start psychotherapy. The initial meeting with the psychotherapist is when dimensions of the therapeutic work are discussed (such as goals, frequency and time) and agreed upon, but also it is the space where the therapist and client meet and begin to get acquainted with each other, she said. "It is very important that the client and the therapist "click". The most important tool any psychotherapist has is himself as a person," Kalitsova said.

In her practice Kalitsova encourages people to "try things out, follow their curiosity and their needs and explore what might help them". "We can't make any guarantees, but we can provide people with opportunities and help them make a choice," she said.

"Psychotherapy can be useful for everyone," she added. LN/DT

Source: Sofia