Towards a research tradition in Gestalt therapy

Warrant, research, and the practice of Gestalt therapy

Philip Brownell
Gestalt psychotherapyResearch methodologyEnglish
Book Chapter - Paid access


The field of Gestalt therapy has experienced a sea change with regard to the issue of the relevance of research for Gestalt therapy. In a recent article and related commentaries several Gestalt writers agreed the field of Gestalt therapy needed to "get serious" about research, and Ken Evans called for more research on the subject in his chapter in the landmark volume edited by Francesetti, Gecele, and Roubal. In taking research more seriously, then, Gestalt therapists need to identify with a philosophy of science that works best for them, embrace an array of research methodologies, and attend to the publication of their research in both Gestalt-oriented, peer-reviewed journals, and those in the wider field of psychotherapy outcomes studies. People need science to keep the philosophers' feet on the ground, and people need philosophy to help number crunchers get to the significance of their equations. In one version of the scientific method, for instance, it is a three-legged stool. One leg consists of systematic observation. A second leg is composed of mathematical analysis, and the third leg resides in the critical thinking of what the numbers may mean, i.e. science and philosophy. In terms of philosophy, although there may be many kinds of philosophy relevant to psychology, such as ethics, I will focus on three elements of a contemporary philosophy of science: naturalism, critical realism, and post-positivism. In terms of science, an adequate philosophy helps people consider the multitude of methods that comprise acceptable evidence for an evidence-based practice. These things will be examined subsequently.

Year of Publication
Number of Pages
Cambridge Scholars Publishing
Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
ISBN Number
1-4438-0734-6 (Hardcover); 978-1-4438-0734-0 (Hardcover)

APA citation

Brownell, P. (2016). Warrant, research, and the practice of Gestalt therapy. In Towards a research tradition in Gestalt therapy (pp. 18-34, ). Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.