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Therapy Comparison: Gestalt, Feminist and Cognitive-Behavioural

It is important to point out that among all three therapies, CBT is the most specific and solution-focused one, which views the majority of issues as manifestations of proper or improper interconnectedness of key three components, which are thought, feelings, and behavior. The core theoretical basis is rooted in the notion that dysfunctional through provokes negative emotions, which lead to undesirable behaviors.

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Therefore, the goal of CBT is to work on thought processes primarily since one has a limited amount of control over emotions. Behaviors can also be targeted, but the main catalyzer of recovery or improvement is thoughts. One should be aware that CBT results are easily measurable because its ultimate goal is to achieve a desirable behavior, which is highly visible and impactful in one’s life. There is a wide range of indications in regards to behavioral patterns shifts, such as lifestyle improvements, interpersonal communication improvements as well as more balanced emotional expression since thoughts are tightly interlinked with the latter.

Therefore, its key advantage is manifested in its universal applicability since the theoretical basis can be utilized in almost any problematic case. However, the effectiveness might vary and be improperly reported because it is stated that there is conflicting evidence in regards to its efficacy for depression, which can be considered as its weakness (Schindler et al., 2011). The counselor plays a cooperative role as an instructor as well as a guide for finding a solution, but such an approach can make it difficult to establish a strong counselor-client relationship since the client needs to be committed to a plan.

Feminist counseling theory is mainly focused on gender-based issues, where the primary goal is the empowerment of clients. Compared to CBT, the goals of feminist therapy are not as specific because empowerment can come in a wide range of forms. The results are also moderately measurable empowerment invokes certain behavioral and situational changes, where a client might shift from a state of victimhood towards independence.

However, its strongest effect can be found in interpersonal changes and emotional expression since subjugated groups can no longer be in a state of gender-based oppression or familial and societal pressures. Therefore, the main advantage of the feminist counseling theory is that the effects of empowerment are exhibited both in terms of external behavior and inner mental being. It is stated that empowerment can lead to major improvements in the copying process, such as reducing the rate of self-inflicted violence (Brown & Bryan, 2007).

However, the main weakness is the fact that it is only applicable for gender-based or group-based issues, and in some cases, clients might not be the victims of outside norms or other forces but have internal issues, which cannot be effectively resolved through empowerment. In addition, the counselor plays mostly the role of an educator and empowerment provider rather than a guider, which might not lead to strong relationship development.

Gestalt counseling theory is a prime example of humanistic therapy, which focuses on the notion of self and mindfulness rather than addressing outside forces. The goal of the therapy is to work and free oneself from internal barriers, which hinder one’s satisfaction and happiness with life. The results of Gestalt therapy are the hardest to measure among the three selected theories since the desired changes are unnoticeable and primarily rooted in one’s subjective experience. The effects of the given counseling theory shine at their best in regards to cognition and mood improvements since the sole focus is put on a person’s perception of the world around him or her.

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Gestalt therapy also focused on “here and now,” excluding any past experiences or future expectations through mindful awareness. Research shows that for a patient, the given approach “contributed to his well-being improvement, led and supported his rehabilitation and reinsertion within the society and decrease his relapses, either with drugs or criminal activities” (Aiach Dominitz, 2017, p. 36). In other words, the main advantage of Gestalt counseling theory is that it builds strong counselor-client relationships due to a sole focus on the internality of the latter, but its weakness is the lack of accurate measurability and apparent improvements.

The two most important techniques of CBT are cognitive reframing and role play because the former focuses on thoughts and the latter focuses on behavior. In the case of feminist therapy, the techniques are social activism and gender role analysis because the former makes the theory actionable and impactful, and the latter makes a client aware of the flaws of the social structure. Two techniques for Gestalt therapy are focusing on “here and now” and an empty chair because both force a client to refocus his or her attention in the present moment. CBT can be highly effective for multicultural issues, but the emphasis needs to put explicitly established at the start (Zigarelli et al., 2016).

The feminist approach is the most effective one for multicultural issues since it focuses on people “who have been systemically underserved, marginalized, and oppressed. Multicultural feminist psychologists defy the” (Bryant-Davis & Moore-Lobban, 2019, p. 15). Since the Gestalt approach is humanistic, it might not be as effective as the other two because it is blind to cultural intricacies.


Aiach Dominitz, V. (2017). Gestalt therapy applied: A case study with an inpatient diagnosed with substance use and bipolar disorders. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 24(1), 36-47. Web.

Brown, L. S., & Bryan, T. C. (2007). Feminist therapy with people who self-inflict violence. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 63(11), 1121-1133. Web.

Bryant-Davis, T., & Moore-Lobban, S. J. (2019). A foundation for multicultural feminist therapy with adolescent girls of color. In T. Bryant-Davis (Ed.), Multicultural feminist therapy: Helping adolescent girls of color to thrive (p. 15–41). American Psychological Association. Web.

Schindler, A. C., Hiller, W., & Witthöft, M. (2011). Benchmarking of cognitive-behavioral therapy for depression in efficacy and effectiveness studies—how do exclusion criteria affect treatment outcome? Psychotherapy Research, 21(6), 644-657. Web.

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Zigarelli, J. C., Jones, J. M., Palomino, C. I., & Kawamura, R. (2016). Culturally responsive cognitive behavioral therapy: Making the case for integrating cultural factors in evidence-based treatment. Clinical Case Studies, 15(6), 427–442. Web.

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