Freeing the Fixed Gestalt That Trauma Is!

January 12, 2020 @ 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Shetler Studios & Theatres
244 West 54th Street (between Broadway and 8th Avenue)
12th Floor (Shetler 1)
Freeing the Fixed Gestalt That Trauma Is! @ Shetler Studios & Theatres

Presenter: Frank Bosco

Trauma is a multifaceted phenomenon. It occurs when some personal boundary of the body/mind is overwhelmed and impacted by some change in the field and then remains in some way — a fixed gestalt! When known and understandable methods of control are either not utilized or not available in the moment of this overwhelming circumstance/situation and we are unable to maintain a sense of comfort/safety, this loss of control alters one’s personal boundary. If this alteration remains fixed and is deemed to be a negative and somewhat persistent experience, we call it trauma.

With such traumatic events come the physiological “events” that are hard-wired into our genetic design so as to help us manage the experiences in the moment. From these experiences, we learn what to fear and how to react to things we encounter in the future so as to avoid and/or replicate the same kind of experiences. Avoidant behavior or replications of the same reactive behaviors, both without significant nuances to alter the experiences, leaves us stuck in a fixed gestalt loop.

Making sense of this traumatic process involves isolating and then appropriately reintegrating all of the given elements of the experiences. A Gestalt therapist is especially well positioned to work with these elements, as we can give voice to each of them as parts of the self that require support to be in healthy contact with each other part. The key here is to understand what needs to be addressed in these experiments and that is what this presentation will be about.


Frank Bosco, MA, BC-MT, LCAT, LMT, RPP, SEP, is a body-oriented music psychotherapist and currently the president of NYIGT. He began working with Gestalt principles in music psychotherapy in the late 1970s in various hospital settings while studying at NYU. At the same time, he got a license in massage therapy and began exploring various approaches to body-oriented psychotherapy, such as the work of Wilhelm Reich and neo-Reichians like Alexander Lowen (Bioenergetics) and later Stanley Keleman. Throughout the 1980s, he worked in private practice, where he began incorporating and then later teaching East/West philosophies and practices along with Ericksonian hypnosis in an eclectic therapy approach called Polarity Therapy. In the mid-1990s, he began studying Peter Levine’s Somatic Experiencing approach to trauma in the first New York–based training and was impressed by how much this new approach employed theories and practices that were consistent with those of Gestalt therapy.

Frank has been teaching and leading music therapy groups at NYU since 1990 and elsewhere since 1981. He has had a mind/body and music therapy center (Sound Health Studio) in New York City since 1990. He has a handful of chapters related to pain, trauma, and Gestalt in music therapy, one of which has been republished in the book The New York Institute for Gestalt Therapy in the 21st Century.