Complex Trauma by definition occurs repeatedly over a period of time. Complex trauma is insidious and can be hard to recognize, because there is no one moment to point to but there are still all the signs of trauma.
Emotional abuse and neglect especially fall into this category; where you can’t see the scars but the pain is so intensely present and overwhelming that it can seep into every aspect of your life. You may not see it for yourself, but you know that things aren’t working: you keep getting into dysfunctional relationships, you constantly switch jobs because you struggle with your boss, your supervisor, your coworkers, or you overreact in social situations and feel like you just can’t fit in or find a place that’s safe, that’s comfortable, that feels like home.
Acute trauma can create a break so severe in our lives that it changes who we are and can take years to understand and integrate into our sense of identity and purpose. Complex trauma does this subtly over and over again, building to just as extreme a level as acute trauma, but it can be even harder to understand and fit into a sensical and meaningful perspective of life and the world. With complex trauma you have to first unravel the trauma to begin to integrate it into your sense of who you are and how that trauma has impacted your life and choices over the years.
Gestalt helps to integrate those experiences and develop the ability to manage the anxiety, depression, anger, grief and so much more that may come from a childhood, a family, a relationship in which you didn’t get your needs met and you weren’t treated in the way you deserve. There is a developmental and attachment component to all of this as well, as what you didn’t get growing up, from your family or other caretakers, still needs to be fulfilled and completed in some way; so gestalt helps to find ways to work with that unfinished business and satisfy what may be early childhood needs in a way appropriate to your age and stage of life.
You don’t have to relive your trauma to get it out of your system and move forward in your life. Gestalt helps you to release that energy in the way that feels right for you in the moment. And gestalt supports you in finding the internal and environmental resources to meet the needs that weren’t met because you were too busy being stuck in fight, flight, and/or freeze to really take care of yourself. As you begin to recognize and incorporate the aspects of your life experience into yourself you will develop a greater sense of wholeness and self-reliance. An ability to ask for what you need and handle life when others may be unable or unwilling to see you for who you really are and meet your needs in a way that works for you.