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  • Stephan van Heerden

Gestalt Process Therapy - short case studies

1. After Dino therapy, Douw stopped strangling himself

The 8-year-old Douw's behavioural problems have ruined his relationship with his mother: He strangled himself as soon as his mother tried to communicate with him. In the car on his way to the consulting room, he again strangled himself next to his mother with his school tie, so that his face and eyes turned red. The mother was despondent about her son's aggression and rejection.

During the single Dino therapy session with Douw, the breakthrough came and his problem was solved.

As Douw described the narrow spot in his Dinosaur's neck, and how difficult it was for the Dinosaur to swallow, because of meat stuck in his throat, he lay down on the couch. He was in the fetus position and with tears in his eyes told the story of a speedboat. His family had a speedboat when he was still very young. He was very scared of the boat's noise and feared the propeller would hurt him. His parents then sold the speedboat. Douw said his mother was angry with him about the boat.

After the session with Douw, his parents were surprised that he remembered the boat because he wasn't even three years old at the time. The parents admitted Douw did not like the boat, but their reason for selling it was only financial.

When Douw could talk about this and realize that his mother was not angry with him about the boat, his compulsion to strangle himself in his mother's presence, immediately cleared up. The mother-son relationship was restored.

The obstruction in the Dinosaur's throat disappeared.

There are cases where clients, during Gestalt Dino therapy, sort out their psychosomatic symptoms, discover their true identity, begin to lose weight, deal with their loss, and improve their self-esteem.


2. After the farm murder, Dean's memory loss was sorted out with Gestalt Colour Therapy:


The 10 year old Dean was brought for therapy because of his memory loss and aggression. He disrupted the classroom daily with his fights and in addition, he suffered from severe short-term memory loss. As soon as he switched to action to perform an assignment, he immediately forgot what he was busy doing. In the middle of his conversations he forgot what he was talking about. He was a candidate for psychiatric treatment, medication and long-term therapy. However, Dean's problem was resolved in only 80 minutes in Gestalt Colour Therapy.

Gestalt Colour Therapy has reached the following places in Dean's subconscious and enhanced his awareness and integration:

Pink 1 and Pink 2 were frustrated because they continually painted each other pink, and hated to be pink. Red 1 had the role of marking answers correct or wrong, like a teacher with her red pen. Pink I and 2 told Red 1 how unfortunate they were, and Red 1 brought it to the attention of Pink that it was their own fault and that they could stop their trouble fighting if they just wanted. Pink wanted to know why Red 1 did not explain it to them earlier.

As integration took place, Dean discovered that he was the one who caused trouble in the classroom and only he could stop it.

While Dean experimented with Brown, he repeatedly forgot with what colour he was busy. He lost concentration and asked each time, "What was I busy talking about?" When Dean's actions were brought to his attention, he discovered that it was Brown's job to help him to forget.

Another facet of Red, Red 2, also came under Dean's awareness. While Dean was experimenting with Red 2, he became very aggressive and made fists. He discovered Red 2's function was to be angry. "When should Red 2 get angry?" the facilitator asked. "When Brown cannot manage to forget. Red 2 helps Brown to forget by getting angry and provoking a fight."

Blue's work was to remind Dean of family who were happy, but Purple had to remind him of unhappy family, family members like Grandmother. Dean told the facilitator how he and his father found Grandpa in a puddle of blood in the farmhouse where Grandpa was killed.

Dean tried to forget about his grandfather's death and other traumatic events in the family, such as his brother who died of an asthma attack and Mother's sadness about her newborn baby's death. But in his family it was taboo to talk about these incidents.

When Dean could not manage to forget about these traumatic experiences, he used fighting and disruption of the classroom to forget.

Because awareness and integration took place, Dean's memory loss and aggression were summarily a thing of the past.

3. Gestalt Colour Therapy freed Thabiso from his revenge

A touching case where Gestalt Colour Therapy radically influenced a person’s life is the case of Thabiso, a matric learner. Thabiso lived with seven other relatives in a two bedroom house. He was thrown out of his parents’ house after he reported his brother, who raped his 12 year old sister, to the police. The relatives believed that the matter should have been addressed amongst them. Thabiso was at a very hopeless place in his life. He considered taking revenge on his family as they rejected him.

With the help of Gestalt Colour therapy, Thabiso relinquished his revenge and thoughts on murder and began to focus positively on his own life.

Experimenting with the colour purple, Thabiso made contact with an unprocessed experience in his heart, where his uncle mistreated him as a boy in the past. With the help of blue, he drew new energy from a source deep in his heart, from memories of a school choir in which he sang. With the help of pink, he once again experienced his unfinished childhood dream of owning a pink suit, but of which he only owns a pink T-shirt today. Yellow helped him discover a part of his personality, which managed to calm him down. Thabiso realized that revenge would only bring more trouble, and with the help of colour he could now focus on something he could really benefit from - a decision to focus on his true needs and buy himself a set of cooking pots for his new room. Experimenting with pink-purple contact helped Thabiso eliminate the conflict between his dream and his sense of inferiority.

Colour empowered him with awareness and self-knowledge to discover a new existence message deep in his heart:

“I should believe in myself, change can be possible for me. If I don’t stay the person I am, I will become an unknown person – I will live but no one will know. I have to state the facts and be heard, shout it out! I have anger but it’s not worth it. There are so many better things to do than thinking about revenge and being angry. All I need to do is to stand up and start believing in myself then I’ll succeed in life.”

There are cases where Gestalt Colour Therapy calms the anger of children and adults, changing an attitude towards school or work, improving problem behaviour and concerning symptoms such as forgetfulness, depression, self esteem problems, obsessions or self injuring.

4. Zahir discovered the root of her pain through Gestalt Dino Therapy

Zahir was a gifted and versatile student, who could make a success of many fields of study. However, since the age of 14, she began to suffer from chronic abdominal pain, of which the cause could never be accurately diagnosed and treated medically successfully. After school she went to study for a chartered accountant and excelled as the top student. During her final year of study, her abdominal pain, anxiety and depression forced her to report for therapy. During Gestalt Dino therapy, the root of her problem was discovered and she was cured of her chronic abdominal pain.

During Gestalt Dino therapy, a Dinosaur projection and metaphor are used, during which the facilitator integrates palaeontology and Gestalt therapy to enhance the client's awareness. The facilitator investigates the interaction between the client's psycho / socio / biological micro-cosmos and geological macro-cosmos. In the metaphor the Dinosaur is freed from the sediment of history in which it is trapped. The client is freed from his or her historical pain, such as trauma and loss.

An examination of the Dinosaur's neck, jaw, chest and abdomen revealed the following: Zahir's biggest, subconscious motive is to try to see far into the future - when one day, as a wealthy woman, she can financially care for her mother. Her single-parent mother, with hardship and sacrifice, took care of her alone all these years. That is why Zahir chose Accountant as a field of study (so that one day she could make good money), and not sports science, which was her true love and interest. Rather, she sacrificed her true identity, corrupted her choice, and inhibited her emotional metabolism, rather than ignoring her mother's needs.

Examining the Dinosaur's tail and legs revealed how heavy the loss was for Zahir not to live up to her true interests, such as her love of adrenaline driven activities. The characteristics of the Dinosaur's tail and the condition of the Dinosaur's rectum revealed that there is a deep-rooted traumatic experience that generally makes Zahir feel anxious and restrained. This unfinished experience came to Zahir's awareness during a Gestalt Astro therapy session. Gestalt Astro therapy work on aspects that came to the client's awareness during Dino therapy, but which were not completed.

The cause of the Dinosaur's constipation and clogged rectum are images that Zahir saw as a 3-year-old girl when her mother brought her into her father's studyroom, images that little Zahir couldn't understand or process: Her father's body after he committed suicide.

There are cases where Gestalt Dino therapy explains and solves problems, such as a champion javelin thrower, who suddenly becomes too anxious for her spear; A first-team rugby player who suddenly suffers from epilepsy; A teenage tennis star who overcame her anorexia and hit the ball better than ever before; an 8-year-old boy who gets a solution to his intense chronic back pain; a ten-year-old boy whose aggression and memory loss are sorted out.

5. Martin discovered why he was regularly involved in car collisions

During therapy, Martin discovered why he was regularly involved in car collisions, why he ended his relationship with his girlfriend suddenly, without reason, why he cut himself and was so deeply dissatisfied with life.

During his elementary school days, he constantly heard his parents arguing - about money. At that time, his wealthy uncle impressed him greatly, because this uncle drove a red Ferrari, was wealthy, had his own law firm, and in addition, this uncle's marriage seemed so happy. "My dream for my future was to be like my uncle one day."

"I decided that one day I would do just like my uncle: I would also become a lawyer and get very rich. Then I would buy my red Ferrari and only then would I seek my wife, because then my wife and I would never fight about money like my parents."

Martin made his decision the rules for his life, his unwritten philosophy. When his studies in law were almost complete and the final exam was underway, the first car crash occurred on the way to the exam room and he couldn't write his test. And a few weeks later another collision and once again his studies stopped dead. After a while he was able to focus on his studies again, but he was hospitalized with a broken leg after a third collision.

Was there something magical that kept Martin from completing his studies?

Meanwhile, Martin rejected one cute girl after another, each time only when their relationship was very satisfying. Not to mention his dark depression and self-mutilation. His life was a mess.

The reason for the car collisions, love problems and depression was because Martin did not really want to be a lawyer. He just wanted to become a wealthy lawyer not to be like his parents one day. Each time, as soon as his studies were almost completed, the unfinished puzzle who he really wanted to be and what he, as a 10-year-old, swore to himself, would come to the fore and cause collisions to prevent Martin from becoming something which he doesn't really want to be. He rejected his girls because his unwritten, subconscious philosophy dictated that he must first become a lawyer, then become rich and buy his red Ferrari, and only then seek his wife.

During therapy, Martin discovered who and what he really wanted to be in life. After completing his therapy, he discontinued his studies in law, again appreciated his old car and bought a caravan and moved to the seaside village of his dreams where he enrolled for a trade as a plumber. During the therapy, he could meet his wealthy uncle again in his subconscious, thank him for being there when he needed him, and ask him to release his hand now, because he is big and knows who and what he want to be. He also took up his love-life wholeheartedly, started to face life again and never went back for the electric shock treatment his psychiatrist urgently advised him.

6. Krila's broken wings were healed

The case of 15 year old Krila’s broken wings is an example of the impact of Gestalt Process Therapy. Krila came for therapy because she lost her enthusiasm for her sports and school work and friends. She was depressed and suffered from body aches.

Gestalt Colour Therapy helped her discover the source of the pain in her joints and shoulder blades:

During Gestalt experimentation with the colour pink, the pain in her joints and shoulder blades became overwhelming. She became aware of the day in grade 1 when her friends decided she may not be part of their "fairy tale" group, because she was not as beautiful as they were. She could sit outside their circle and watch, but were not allowed to have wings or stretch out her arms and flutter her hands.

Hence the origin of her aching shoulder blades and wrists at age 15. Broken wings.

During the third therapy appointment, Gestalt Dino therapy deepened her self-knowledge and awareness even further.

Krila's Dinosaur drawing revealed that the Dinosaur has a cavity on her back, exactly where the Dinosaur's wings were in an earlier period of evolution. (Also a place on the body where the physical pain bothered Krila.)

A pencil mark, that accidentally became part of the drawing (but was motivated by the subconscious), right above the cavity on the Dinosaur's back, was part of the Dinosaur's story: A seed that fell from a tree and came to lie in the cavity on the back. One of the same tree's seeds also got stuck under a foot of the Dinosaur and caused an infection - hence the swelling on the Dinosaur's foot. (In Dino therapy, the Dinosaur's feet relate, among other things, to the individual's first contact with her reality and what her first attempts look like when she makes contact or tries to avoid it.)

Krila has a problem at this point in making contact with her friends and feels that they are bullying her.

During the fourth appointment, a Gestalt Astro therapy appointment, Krila discovered what this seed, which caused the Dinosaur's foot to swell, means and where the seed came from.

(During Gestalt Astro therapy, the individual bridges the distance to earlier stages in her life where unfinished experiences and unprocessed feelings lie hidden.) Here, Krila discovered that she, as a three-year-old girl, was the little seed. The tree that cast the seed was her father. She became aware of the fact that, as a three-year-old girl, she was unable to make contact with her father because he was an alcoholic.

It was this unprocessed experience that inflamed the Dinosaur's foot. It was the same unprocessed experience that caused Krila's inability to make contact with her peer.

Deeper healing occurred during the second Astro therapy session:

Krila was able to make contact with the tree that threw the seed (her father's true heart). A small seed on the ground, falling from the tree, told the tree how lonely and lost she was. The tree has empathy for the seed and told the seed:

"You didn't fall far from the tree. Germinate and now become your own tree.”


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