Updated: Jun 29, 2021
We at Stress-Free VA Services love to collaborate with talented people to bring more learning information to our network of therapists. This is a blog post feature from Carmen Palacios Camacho, who has studied Gestalt Therapy and has 14 years of experience in the mental health counseling field. She goes in-depth with her knowledge of this method of therapy and how it has helped her to understand clients on a deeper, more intimate level.
What is Gestalt Therapy?
Gestalt Therapy is a humanistic approach that was founded by Fritz Perls in the early 1940s. Gestalt Therapy focuses on self-acceptance and authenticity. In Gestalt Therapy, we help our clients navigate through their emotions rather than just “coping with them”. Gestalt Therapy proposes that emotions are very important “signals” that let us know our balance is being “disrupted”, whether they are pleasant or unpleasant emotions.
These signals contain relevant information including unsatisfied needs that are looking to be satisfied and we also focus on helping clients identify the direction they need to take in order to satisfy these needs, thus resolving internal conflicts. Through this process, some “unfinished business” might arise, and that provides the opportunity to start a healing process that helps clients identify the reasons behind their struggles of feeling “stuck” in certain situations.
In Gestalt Therapy, we pay close attention to the cycle of satisfaction of needs, as there are interruptions in this cycle that cause internal conflicts and we help our clients become aware of these in order to support them on their journey of implementing self-compassion and self-acceptance.
When a client comes to therapy, they have an awareness of a conflict (whether is internal or external) and that, in Gestalt Therapy, is called “figure” or what the client is aware of. What we focus on in sessions is connecting that “figure” to the “background”, which is what the client is not aware of in order to facilitate their self-discovery and healing.
In Gestalt Therapy, we are not the experts, we avoid interpretations; rather we keep clients “company” while they make their own connections through their self-discovery and healing journey, which promotes self-acceptance as they start taking responsibility for actions, emotions, and conflicts they were not aware of.
How is it helpful to Therapists?
I have been implementing Gestalt Therapy for over 14 years and it has given me great results when working with clients struggling with depression, anxiety, trauma, grief, life transitions, relationship conflicts, self-esteem issues, codependency, etc. It makes a great impact with clients that like to address their underlying issues and they’re willing to go “deeper” to “make sense of it all”.
As a therapist, it helps me to avoid getting into “debating” with client’s negative thinking patterns and irrational beliefs, rather than keeping them company while they take responsibility for their emotions, actions, and issues they were not aware of. It also helps me to assist my clients in achieving permanent results, rather than temporary ones, as they are more self-aware and self-reliant.
What are the typical results?
Implementing Gestalt Techniques, I have observed instant results in sessions, from helping clients connect their body sensations with emotions, as sometimes our brain stores emotions as “physical memories” and whether or not we remember an incident, our body sends us physical sensations that point out some emotions associated with these experiences.
I have seen client’s come to a session struggling with body aches, physical tension, and/or headaches, and once they allow themselves to connect with this and the emotional information associated with them, they have instant relief from them.
I’ve also witnessed clients recall memories they were not aware of by engaging in techniques like “exaggerating” a movement, which allowed them to connect them with the unresolved emotions associated with that memory that was left in the “background”.
I’ve seen clients struggling to leave a toxic relationship or going through a life transition understand their internal conflicts by identifying unsatisfied needs, which gives them direction on what they need to do to feel better about their decision or their process of adaptation.
I’ve helped clients process their grief, being able to not only process the loss associated with their loved ones but also the unresolved emotions and unfinished business associated with the loss. In Gestalt Therapy, we also help clients navigate their grief associated with the aspect that had the emotional bond with the person that is gone.
I’ve seen clients recovering from trauma after processing important, basic needs that were blocked during the incident, having the power to move on into the direction they needed to take in order to satisfy them in the “here and now”.
Get to know Carmen Palacios Camacho
Carmen is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist from Peru and has practiced Individual Therapy, with a degree in Mental Health Counseling. She graduated from the master’s program in Mental Health Counseling Program at Nova Southeastern University in 2014, after moving to the United States to further her career. From there, she started to work in an agency that provided in-home and in-office consultation in an outpatient setting. Once she obtained her license in 2019, she left that agency to continue her career as a Primary Therapist in a treatment center. After colleagues have approached her about how she uses the Gestalt Therapy techniques, she decided to use her 14 years of knowledge and information and created a training in this approach.
Carmen was born and raised in Peru and has always had the passion to pursue Psychology ever since she was a young girl. She has always enjoyed listening to others and being that “go-to” person that her friends could confide in. It was then, that she discovered her love and passion for psychology. Carmen’s goal for this project is to make Gestalt Therapy more accessible for therapists who would like to implement this approach with their clients. She knows how much this can benefit clients and that it can be a lifesaver for those that like to explore “deep” into their issues and address their underlying struggles. Being a therapist has been, is, and always will be, her only career choice. Carmen’s empathy, compassion, and non-judgmental approach combined with her personality are what make her an extremely dedicated therapist.
Carmen also holds a National Certified Counselor Certification (NCC) as well as a Master’s Level Addiction Professional Certification (MCAP).
Check out Carmen's website here
Check out Carmen's Facebook group here
Check out Gestalt Therapy Training by Carmen here