Video | 00:59:00

Erving Polster on Gestalt Therapy

by Erving Polster
In this in-depth interview, you’ll get to know Polster’s unique take on Gestalt therapy, and see for yourself how he boldly elevates ordinary conversations into life-affirming encounters. 

Erving Polster on Gestalt Therapy
In the psychotherapy profession, there are many experts, but few true masters, and Erving Polster is certainly one of the latter. Weaving together stories from his formative experiences with Fritz and Laura Perls, and significant lessons from his five decades as a psychotherapist, Polster offers in this interview timeless wisdom for new and seasoned therapists alike. 

Join Polster in this intimate conversation as he explores fundamental Gestalt principles such as the paradoxical theory of change and the importance of the therapeutic relationship, while learning the pitfalls of being a new therapist, such as the dangers of imitating the masters. Enjoy the spontaneous role-play, which highlights Polster’s exceptional skill in bringing freshness and aliveness to a session with a highly self-critical client.

With surprising revelations such as, “I don’t concentrate on the here and now,” “I’m not interested in changing anything,” and, “I am there to create conflicts,” viewers will gain insight into the nuanced perspective of a brilliant, innovative, and free-thinking therapist, while getting a clear understanding of the essence of Gestalt therapy. Most importantly, you’ll get a sense of Erv Polster, the person—fully vital in his eighties—and how he brings his full self into his therapeutic work.

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This video is a very useful teaching tool about some basic tenets of gestalt therapy and the gestalt therapist's attitude. On top of that, it is an impressive documentary that shows Erv Polster's striking liveliness, his brilliant thinking as well as his compassionate and humorous humanity.
-- Frank-M. Staemmler, PhD, Zentrum fuer Gestalttherapie, Germany

A thoroughly engaging and thoughtful demonstration of both the theory and application of Gestalt Therapy by one of it's most creative practitioners. The work of a genuine master of his craft.
-- Don Summers, MFT, San Francisco, California

"Erving Polster, a very important figure in the development of gestalt therapy provides a wonderful introduction to this approach through an interview with Rafal Mietkiewicz. Along with offering a history of its development and an overview of important aspects, Polster provides examples of gestalt therapy in action. The video remains adaptable enough to be great for students while still providing useful learning for the seasoned clinician."
-- Louis Hoffman, PhD, Executive Faculty, Saybrook University; President-Elect, Society for Humanistic Psychology
In Depth
CE Test
By watching this video, you will:
• Learn how to transform stale therapeutic interactions into fresh, vibrant, and engaging ones.
• Understand the fundamental principles, goals, and techniques of Gestalt therapy.
• Identify key differences between psychoanalysis and Gestalt therapy, such as the use of the therapeutic relationship and dream work.

Most of us learn about the true masters by reading about them in books, but Erving Polster worked closely with one of the most famous and influential figures in our field, Fritz Perls. In this revealing interview, he shares openly about some of his experiences in the “hot seat” with Perls, such as the healing moment when he was crying deeply and felt Perls’s hand holding his. He also talks about a time when he felt enraged when Perls said to him, in a vulnerable moment, “I’m not interested in your past.”

In addition to reflecting on the past, Polster focuses on his work today, at age 87. It is exciting and inspiring to see how a seasoned therapist who has been around since the early days of Gestalt therapy has evolved this approach and taken it into the community to benefit more than those who are privileged to enter into the consultation room. Revealing his sustained passion and enthusiasm five decades into his career, he concludes the interview saying, “I feel like I am as much interested in these developments that I am talking about as I was in the beginning. And I was very, very excited in the beginning.”

Length of video: 00:59:00
Number of Discs: 1
English subtitles available on: Stream, DVD
This DVD plays in All Regions
Individual ISBN-10 #: 1-60124-289-1
Group ISBN-10 #: 1-60124-290-5
Erving PolsterErving Polster, PhD is the Director of The Gestalt Institute of San Diego, and the author of several important books, including Gestalt Therapy Integrated, Every Person's Life is Worth a Novel, and From the Radical Center: The Heart of Gestalt Therapy, as well as dozens of articles and chapters.

See all Erving Polster videos.

I like the way that Polster says that he "does not want to change you, I want to know you." It is important to put people at ease, and this does. I am presently in an online PhD program in psychology and wellness, but I have been writing since 1976 about epilepsy, learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, Freidreich's Ataxia, and Parkinson[s disease.
Nancy C Schumacher
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CE credits: 5
Learning objectives:

  • By watching this video, you will:
  • Learn how to transform stale therapeutic interactions into fresh, vibrant, and engaging ones.
  • Understand the fundamental principles, goals, and techniques of Gestalt therapy.
  • Identify key differences between psychoanalysis and Gestalt therapy, such as the use of the therapeutic relationship and dream work.