Who is Fritz Perls: The Inspirational Father of Behavioral Therapy

Who is Fritz Perls

Perhaps best known as a professor, Friedrich Salomon Perls (Fritz Perls) stood out as one of the first psychiatrists to suggest that there is a subconscious mind’s power to govern human behavior. Known as the ‘father of behavioral therapy,’ Perls discovered that when you understand the workings of the mind, you can use it for your own benefit – rather than having to try to manipulate or repress your feelings. Originally from Germany, Perls came to the United States in search of a job. Upon arriving, he set up a practice, treating people with a variety of mental problems. Eventually, his efforts led him to formulate theories on how the mind works.

How Did Fritz Perls Enrich Psychoterapy?

Friedrich Salomon Perls explored the experience of mental and emotional life from a whole-person perspective, studying their effect on how individuals perceive themselves and others. In this way, he is often seen as the founder of Gestalt therapy. He established a holistic approach to psychotherapy that emphasized each individual’s experience of reality or “worldview,” which he saw as being informed by cognitive, emotional, and interpersonal components that typically work in harmony within people with an adequate level of psychological maturity.
He is called a major figure in existential psychology/psychotherapy, although his name does not appear in most textbooks covering this genre. He was among the first therapists to insist upon multiple treatment sessions with clients instead of just one or two clients.

Fritz Perls’ Interactions in Psychotherapy Circle

Friedrich Salomon Perls was an early psychoanalytic thinker and founder of Gestalt therapy. He is now recognized as one of the most significant figures in twentieth-century psychology.
One major breakthrough in Freud’s theory can be traced to his use of psychoanalysis to treat patients such as Emma Eckstein, Auguste Forel, and even himself on occasion. One problem with this technique, however, is that it requires lengthy treatment times including numerous sessions lasting up to ninety minutes per day. This intensive time requirement was not practical for many people who could not afford or access it due to their schedules (since Freudian psychoanalysis required long periods of time with the therapist).

fritz perls
Fritz Perls, Source: @dott.ssa_sandra_barberini

Known as a behavioral hypnotherapist, Fritz Perls applied many hypnotherapy and cognitive therapy methods to help patients with various disorders. These range from mood disorders to fears and phobias. He was also known for being a strong believer in meditation and yoga. He introduced these practices to the American medical community and helped make them mainstream, helping thousands of Americans suffering from anxiety, depression, and other ailments.

Who is Fritz Perl? The answer may surprise some people. Yes, he is still alive and kicking, although he prefers to remain under the radar in private. Many psychologists and psychiatrists believe that he deserves his place in history because he has helped many individuals. Even though his name is unknown to many of us, our society’s impact cannot be denied.

At age 34, Fritz Perls returned to Berlin and established the Gestalt School in Berlin. He was director of the clinic until he retired in 1972. As part of his therapy approach, Gestaltists focus on individual uniqueness and present-moment awareness. They believe that people can change their self-concept and become more aware of external perceptions by changing distressing patterns of behavior through “creative life action,” and “generalization and final integration,” called best practice today.

Jung also saw self-actualization as a central goal of human development (“naturally always restricted to individuals”). Fritz Perls developed an influential analysis incorporating both of these goals.

Selected Publications

Perls, F., Ego, Hunger and Aggression (1942, 1947) 1

Perls, F., Hefferline, R., & Goodman, P., Gestalt Therapy: Excitement and Growth in the Human Personality (1951) 2

Perls, F., Gestalt Therapy Verbatim (1969) 3

Perls, F., In and Out the Garbage Pail (1969)4

Perls, F., The Gestalt Approach and Eye Witness to Therapy (1973) 5

Last Updated on December 12, 2022 by Lucas Berg


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *