What is Gestalt Coaching?

Gestalt Theory is About Creating Wholeness

The core of the Touched by a Horse® Certification Program is the Equine Gestalt Coaching Method, which applies Gestalt Theory to equine-partnered coaching. As you work with Master Gestaltist Melisa Pearce, you will learn to understand and apply Gestalt Theory inside and outside the roundpen in your own coaching practice.

They may have created the emotions of anger, fear, grief, jealously and loneliness. We can feel unworthy, powerless and abandoned. All of these emotions and feelings are triggered from past events. When our body fails to “let go” of these emotions, it creates unfinished business and limiting beliefs in our present lives.

In the Gestalt process, we have an opportunity to complete the unfinished business and realize our full potential. This happens in the present moment. It brings what is in our subconscious to our conscious awareness, releasing the emotional and physical energy that has kept us from living a full and authentic life.

Gestalt leads to wholeness. As a person journeys through their unfinished business, a level of self-awareness allows room for personal responsibility and a life of self-compassion.

We all have painful experiences in our lives

Fundamentals of Gestalt Coaching

Gestalt Coaching is a Non-diagnostic Model

The coach is not trained to label or view a client as fraught with disorders. Instead, the coach engages the client in a process that leads them to the realization that we each have experiences of both healthy and less than healthy reactions and responses to the world around us. In many settings and with a creative variety of experiments, the practitioner and client explore, unabashedly, the personal operating system the client is currently operating on.

Gestalt Coaching is About Awareness

Gestalt encourages a person to fully acknowledge all operating systems within them and to ask where these systems took root in their life. Once aware of these systems, choosing what to hold onto and what to abandon is up to the client. Through an experiential process, often this awareness leads to clearing up residue from their past encounters and interactions. As a result, a person gains a sense of peace and feels free to be who they really are and to select behaviors that enhance their life instead of remaining at the mercy of becoming reactionary.

Gestalt Coaching Doesn’t Involve an Intellectual Understanding

Just as Gestalt coaching does not  label or diagnose, it also does not seek an intellectual understanding of self. Instead, the coach supports a client in fully experiencing themselves, holding that each client has inherent wisdom, allowing that it might be outside of their present awareness. In each Gestalt coaching session, because it is experiential and not a form of “talk-therapy”, many clients experience positive and permanent change.

Gestalt Coaching Helps Clients Learn to Respond Rather Than React

As a client begins to release the emotional and physical energy of past wounds, they often find that they become more “responsive” instead of “reactive” to their world. When we respond from an aware, whole, and fully present place, we are clear. In contrast, when we respond from a reactionary place, our interaction with others and the world often leads to regret.

Contact in Gestalt Coaching

Being fully present to our own life and the manner in which we move through it, is at the center of Gestalt. It is a way that brings forth the here and now. The focus is placed on being in contact – a state in which we are fully aware of our own existence, our body and our emotions in the present moment. As we expand our awareness to include our present environment, we are then able to exchange that awareness with another being as both people are in a state of contact at the same time.

Horses and Gestalt Coaching


Contact Can Also Be Experienced with Horses

 As a prey animal, horses are acutely aware of their environment. Due to their heightened sensitivity and because horses live in the present moment – in the right circumstances- genuine contact with human emotion comes naturally to them.


Become Present & the Horse Will Take Notice

As a coach works with a client and assists them in connecting with their inner wounds, the equine coaching partner will pick up on that energy, often lowering their heads in recognition or physically touching the client with their nose. They offer one of the most beautiful gifts of an accomplished coach which is being present with someone’s pain.


Revealing What the Client is Avoiding

Horses are also keenly aware of the ways in which we consciously or unconsciously may seek to interrupt or avoid our truth. In an Equine Gestalt coaching session, if the client escapes into intellectualizing their problems or not speaking what is authentically true for them, the horse will lose interest and walk away.


The Gift of Self-compassion

The Gestalt coach can use this guidance provided by their horse partner to help the client better understand where they are stuck and may be hiding from themselves. Paying attention to the ways in which we seek to avoid or interrupt contact is important in working with Gestalt for self-healing.


Focus on the Present Moment

In the Equine Gestalt Coaching Program, we work with our horse partners to expand the client’s awareness of where their resistances lie now. Experiential awareness is key to the process. We don’t focus on the past, we look at how a client’s life is functioning today,

Gestalt as a Way of Life

When a coach has deeply incorporated Gestalt  principles, it often becomes simply how they view the world. It evolves into their way of approaching life, not just a modality of therapy. They seek to live life from the present moment in a responsive mode of choice, not a reactive place. They come to view Gestalt as a body of knowledge available for all to learn, not just for coaches and other practitioners. Akin to mindfulness, it becomes a form of spiritual practice and a way of being here, now.

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