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Paradoxical Theory of Change


Briefly stated, it is this: that change occurs when one becomes what he is, not when he tries to become what he is not. Change does not take place through a coercive attempt by the individual or by another person to change him, but it does take place if one takes the time and effort to be what he is -- to be fully invested in his current positions. By rejecting the role of change agent, we make meaningful and orderly change possible.

As a ‘present centred’ approach Gestalt concerns itself with the reality of the experience of

the person. The (past) experiences are present in the individual’s experiencing of the now

moment, thus the approach lends itself to questions of ‘what’ and ‘how’ more than to ‘why’

and ‘when’.

In considering change, the premise is first and foremost about awareness of what is the

current experience and how this may be presenting as non-functional, or dys-functional for

the individual.

Although brief, the "Paradoxical Theory of Change" is outside of the works of Frederick Perls (the

most frequently referenced article in the body of Gestalt therapy literature). Written in 1970, it

originally appeared in Fagan and Shepherd's Gestalt Therapy Now, a Harper Colophon Book.


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