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Unread 09-18-2009, 06:13 PM   #1
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Default Anybody know how trauma work is done in Gestalt therapy?

My T wants us to start us "working through the trauma"....

And I'm afraid to do that. But my life right now is a living hell, and I guess I need to get past the trauma in order to feel better.

I know about the empty chair, and I don't want to do that. Are there any other methods that are used that people know of on how to deal with trauma, gestalt-based?
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Unread 09-18-2009, 06:30 PM   #2
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Default Re: Anybody know how trauma work is done in Gestalt therapy?

how come youre opposed to the empty chair?
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Unread 09-18-2009, 06:53 PM   #3
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Default Re: Anybody know how trauma work is done in Gestalt therapy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mixedup_emotions View Post
My T wants us to start us "working through the trauma"....

And I'm afraid to do that. But my life right now is a living hell, and I guess I need to get past the trauma in order to feel better.

I know about the empty chair, and I don't want to do that. Are there any other methods that are used that people know of on how to deal with trauma, gestalt-based?
I have to say, I was in a psychodrama group for many years and the empty chair thing was very helpful to a lot of people with different issues.
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Unread 09-18-2009, 07:53 PM   #4
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Default Re: Anybody know how trauma work is done in Gestalt therapy?

Years ago I read about the empty chair method and did it myself, by myself and it helped me tremendously.
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Unread 09-18-2009, 07:55 PM   #5
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Default Re: Anybody know how trauma work is done in Gestalt therapy?

Oh, god, I hate that stupid empty chair. I won't do it, either, though I think my T has found other ways to get the basic technique into our work.

The key to Gestalt, as I understand it, is focusing on what's going on with you in a given moment, not necessarily what you're saying. So when I discuss my trauma, we might pause and talk about how tight my chest feels, and how that's typical of fear, and how I feel scared now and probably felt terrified then. The fear loosens a bit, as we talk about it, and then I go on describing the trauma and we back up again to look at how I becoming detached.

I've learned to try things with T, and I can always discard them or choose not to try them again, but the one effort can be really helpful.
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Unread 09-18-2009, 08:23 PM   #6
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Default Re: Anybody know how trauma work is done in Gestalt therapy?

When I think of the empty chair, I am filled with anxiety....I don't know if it's more from humiliation and embarrassment....or my discomfort in the role playing....or the intense fear I have of facing whoever is supposed to be in the chair.

I just don't want to do it.
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Unread 09-18-2009, 08:44 PM   #7
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Default Re: Anybody know how trauma work is done in Gestalt therapy?

I used Gestault therapy. I think it is awesome. I didn't do the empty chair but learning how to be this present and aware of yourself and what is going on is really good.
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Unread 09-18-2009, 09:44 PM   #8
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Default Re: Anybody know how trauma work is done in Gestalt therapy?

i can so understand your discomfort with the empty chair thing. my old t had me do it once and it felt so weird. i didn't know anything about it and still really don't. i think i felt very silly and awkward role playing talking to an empty chair. it was also really difficult and i had a hard time doing it. she pretty much coached me through it. if we'd done it more than the one time i'm sure i probably would have gotten more comfortable with the process. it's funny because i just realized i had a dream once where i basically did in the dream the same thing that i did with the empty chair. the dream was quite significant and the person was the same in both situations. i wish i could remember how much later the dream was after the chair thing. it may have been years or it could have been much closer--i have no idea. i never even made the connection between the two until just now!
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Unread 09-18-2009, 11:40 PM   #9
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Default Re: Anybody know how trauma work is done in Gestalt therapy?

I did the empty chair many times. In group I felt very supported when my t was behind me and if I got stuck, he gave me words to say which usually fit (if it didnt fit Id shake my head) and so did other group members. It was a very helpful tool with the group involved. And sometimes another group member was me and I would sit in the empty chair (as the person I was talking to). It did help make my feelings more clear to me.
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Unread 09-19-2009, 01:45 PM   #10
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Default Re: Anybody know how trauma work is done in Gestalt therapy?

The empty chair is one gestalt method, probably the most well-known, but certainly is not required to do gestalt therapy. My T has a strong background in Gestalt and has asked me if I was interested in the empty chair a couple times, but it never seemed to be the 'right' thing.

My typical experience of a gestalt trauma processing...
I start talking about the trauma and when I get to a pause, T will ask what I'm feeling right NOW. He might ask how my body is feeling, if there is any tension anywhere? I would then make an effort to focus on my physical body in the present moment and see how it is reacting. I might then describe a tightness in my neck, and T will try to keep me focused on just staying *with* this feeling...describing it more. I might then say 'it feels like I cannot speak, like my neck is so tight no words can come out...or it reminds me of X time...etc.'

When I end up being able to focus on how I am feeling and my body is responding in the NOW of the therapy room, it helps me to bring myself out of living in the past of the trauma and focusing on what I can do right now. It has also taught me just how much the unresolved trauma is a part of my everyday life, whether I wanted to admit it or not.

It has also helped me to identify feelings better by being more in touch with my body. For example, I might at some other point feel that tightness in my neck and I know it is an emotional response. Just having that awareness is extremely powerful for learning when I am being triggered and how I can focus on the NOW and allow the emotional wave to pass.

I can only speak for myself, but I think the gestalt techniques were very helpful in processing trauma...and I never did talk to an empty chair.
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