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A holistic gestalt therapy model for treatment of trauma

1 January 2015


Trauma-related disorders, including posttraumatic stress disorder and complex posttraumatic stress disorder, are pervasive chronic conditions that can negatively impact an individual’s mental health and psychosocial functioning. Current evidence-based approaches to treatment of trauma primarily emphasize cognitive behavioral approaches, leaving gestalt therapy out of the discussion due to its lack of presence in the literature. Based on the gestalt therapy philosophical foundations and commonly used interventions, gestalt therapy appears to be well suited for consideration as a first line therapy approach to treatment of trauma. Gestalt therapy encompasses the common factors of psychotherapy and parallels the three major phases of trauma therapy: assessment, trauma-related work, and termination. This paper provides a working definition of trauma, presents theories of trauma conceptualization, outlines the research regarding evidence-based and gestalt therapy approaches to trauma, and describes a holistic gestalt therapy approach to treatment of trauma-related disorders that can be empirically studied for future research and implemented across a range of treatment settings. Gestalt trauma therapy is a phasic model grounded in gestalt principles that integrates key common factors and elements from other evidence-based trauma treatment approaches. Recommendations for future research and organizational implementation across treatment settings are provided.


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