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Who am I A student of Gestalt psychotherapy a professional sales person a qualified trainer a wife a dutiful daughter-in-law or the author of this essay Am I all of these and more Or can I only be one without the others How do I know which of these I am at any one time and how do I know what effects each have on who I really am Am I always me Such musings have occupied the thoughts of many a psychologist philosopher and religious theorist over the centuries A quick flick through the ages reveals that there are many theories of what Self means Gaarder1996 This paper does not attempt to answer these opening questions categorically Instead it offers an analysis of what Gestalt theorists and practitioners mean by the term self and how this influences the clinical practice of a Gestalt psychotherapist In order to arrive at a definition of self from the Gestalt perspective it is first necessary to define what is meant by the terms contact and contact boundary By examining the interconnectedness of these major concepts in Gestalt theory we will be able to assess whether Self is discovered at the contact boundary So what is me and what is not-me How do I know what is part of me rather than that which is separate from me contacting occurs at the surface-boundary in the field of the organismenvironment The definition of an organism is the definition of the organismenvironment field Perls Hefferline and Goodman 1977303 This implies that it is in the contact boundary that a clearer sense of self as an organism emerges The contact boundary both contains and separates the person from his environment while at the same time being his contact with the environment Clarkson and Mackewn 200254 Latner 1992 clarifies this by stating that the contact boundary takes into account both the differences between the elements which are meeting and also the unity
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