What is psychosomatics?
Nobody is really surprised that an aching tooth impacts our psyche because then we feel unwell and irritated. Why then should we be surprised by something opposite, namely that our psyche can impact our body?
Sometimes a client comes for therapy and he casually mentions that he has an ailment – something gives him pain or discomfort. He has already done some medical tests and they show nothing. The client does not connect this symptom with any specific trauma or event – simply it is something he has had for some time.
Gestalt psychotherapy is a holistic approach, it encompasses both the person’s body and psyche. If the client expresses some readiness and need we can work with the symptom in therapy. How is it done? Well, we want to learn more about this ailment. We try to see it form a new perspective and help the client get some understanding of it. The point is not to replace the doctor, neither to eliminate the pain and discomfort (although it sometimes happens). The point is this: as the therapeutic work results in new understanding, there comes a change – the symptom stops to be something alien that happens to the client. Instead it becomes integrated in his understanding and the client starts to have some control over it.
One can say that a psychosomatic symptom is an expression of something that the consciousness is not ready to accept. A good example here are autoimmune (auto-aggressive) diseases, where the organism turns against itself. Being a psychotherapist it is worth to be open to a very broad context of a symptom. Ask when it first appeared how the client’s life was then, what he faced and experienced. This is not about the therapist trying to understand something – it is about the client getting to understand himself.