Healing the Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivors: Overcoming Self-Alienation
August 7-11, 2017
Childhood abuse necessitates self-alienation: we must disown that humiliating "bad child" and work harder to be the "good child" acceptable to our attachment figures. In the end, we survive trauma at the cost of disowning and dissociating from our most wounded selves. While longing to be feel safe and welcome, traumatized individuals find themselves in conflict: alternating between clinging and pushing others away, self-hatred or hostility toward others, yearning to be seen yet yearning to be invisible. Years later, these clients present in therapy with symptoms of anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, diagnoses of bipolar and borderline personality disorder, and a distorted or absent sense of identity.
This workshop offers a practical "hand's on" approach to traumatized clients with underlying issues of self-alienation and self-hatred by helping them to recognize how the trauma has left them fragmented and at war within their own minds and bodies. Participants will learn how to help their clients observe the parts they have embraced and identified with as 'me' and the trauma-related parts they have disowned and judged harshly. Using interventions drawn from a number of therapeutic approaches (including Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Internal Family Systems, and ego state therapy), the focus is on helping clients observe and accept all aspects of self with mindfulness-based interest and curiosity. As their young parts are identified and understood as 'heros' in the individual's story of survival, clients are able to feel more warmly toward them, often for the first time. Techniques will be demonstrated that increase the capacity to feel for and with each part, that foster the sense of caring for young wounded parts, and that pave the way for growing "earned secure attachment" to ourselves. Even when our clients are unable to tolerate emotion, extend themselves compassion, or take in someone else's caring, they can learn to feel protective of their younger selves and even learn to welcome home their 'lost souls' with warmth and self-compassion.
In this course we will learn to identify signs and symptoms of fragmentation and internal conflict and to help clients put non-judgmental language to their trauma-related symptoms and inner experience. We will also cover how to decrease client phobias of emotion and inner experience by increasing mindfulness-based dual awareness and facilitate mindful tracking of fragmented parts of the self. The use of somatic interventions for regulating autonomic arousal and affect dysregulation to calm the body will be explored as well as how to integrate interpersonal neurobiology and social engagement techniques into the treatment. We will discuss how o increase self-compassion through growing empathy for wounded child parts and how to transform traumatic memory using somatic, visualization, and ego state techniques while fostering 'earned secure attachment'.
Trauma and self-alienation: The costs and benefits of disowning one's traumatized child selves as a survival and adaptation strategy. Introduction to Structural Dissociation model as a trauma-related explanatory model for understanding chronic chaos, resistance, and self-destructive behavior.
Befriending our disowned selves: Mindfulness-based approaches (Internal Family Systems, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy) to building interest and curiosity in one's parts in place of phobic reactions to their emotions, vulnerability or self-destructive behavior
Increasing self-compassion by cultivating compassion for younger parts of the personality: Learning to ask, "How did this part help me to survive? Without it, what would have happened?"
Transforming traumatic memory: By teaching clients how to provide reparative or "missing" experiences for their child selves.
Building internal attachment: How we can help clients "earn" secure attachment as the therapeutic outcome of creating internal acceptance, safety and welcome for each wounded part of the self.
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