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How Do I Become a Gestalt Psychologist?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 17, 2024
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To become a Gestalt psychologist, you need a psychology doctorate, either a PhD or Psy.D. Most universities don’t train people in one method of therapy, and doctoral students usually don’t graduate as experts in Gestalt. Additional training is often necessary to competently practice this form of therapy. It is available in local continuing education classes, at institutes, in internships, and in personal therapy.

Students are advised to consider a Psy.D instead of PhD if their goal is to practice therapy. The Psy.D has a more clinical focus and spends less time on research and laboratory work. Much of the coursework has to do with different therapy methods.

Choosing a school that has classes offered by renowned Gestalt therapists is also suggested. It can help to study with experts in preparation for fieldwork and eventual professional practice. Students may also have the opportunity to write a dissertation about Gestalt and other experiential therapies.

Of course, some people don’t have specific goals when they enter a doctoral program, and either a PhD or Psy.D can help you become a Gestalt psychologist. The next step, regardless of degree obtained, is getting advanced training. There are different ways to accomplish this.

Most psychologists must complete 1500 hours of supervised practice after their doctorate in order to get a license. It’s sometimes possible to get that practice at a center specializing in Gestalt therapy, which is perhaps the ideal scenario. People practice therapy and get feedback on how to improve from Gestalt experts. Occasionally, a different job location can offer supervision from someone who is expert in this therapy school. This is another highly desirable internship environment to consider.

These internships aren’t available to everyone and are typically competitive. Another avenue to become a Gestalt psychologist is to get training from an independent source. Many regions have at least one institute offering a variety of training programs that might only take a few weeks of intensive study to complete. Some programs aren’t affiliated with an institute, but offer local training, over time. If you have trouble locating a program or institute or want advice on the best training, consider contacting local Gestalt psychologists and therapists.

There are debates about whether it’s necessary to have any form of certification to be a Gestalt psychologist. Many programs don’t offer it and the title isn’t necessarily protected. It’s not clear that any certified program exceeds the quality of an uncertified one, or that a “title” ever matters to clients.

The greater consideration for the person who wishes to become a Gestalt psychologist is how much immersion and practice are available in classes. This is a highly experiential form of therapy and those practicing it should experience it personally. Psychologists should seriously consider not just training, but receiving therapy from a Gestalt therapist or participating in Gestalt group therapy. Such “here and now” experience adds to expertise.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
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Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
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