Healing the Divided Mind: Practical Approaches to Working with the Dissociative Client
Therapists can sometimes feel overwhelmed by the challenges and confusing presentations of clients who experience serious trauma-related dissociative disorders. This highly practical workshop will offer in-depth skills to understand and work with dissociative parts as an inner organization of self, using integrated psychotherapy approaches. Participants will learn to work systemically to support the individual as a whole person. A brief overview of the concept of dissociation from the perspective of child development and neuroscience will be provided, as well as an outline of phased or sequenced treatment, which is the current standard of care for dissociative disorders. We will focus on specific and practical skills to deal with dissociation both from a perspective of improving functioning in daily life and of cultivating the client’s ability to engage as a collaborative partner in therapy. Participants will learn a wide range of interventions to stabilize clients prior to working with traumatic memories. Trauma-related phobias, especially the phobia of inner experience (that is, thoughts, emotions, sensations, memories, wishes, needs), will be addressed, and their treatment will be described as a central part of therapy. Attachment and dependency issues in therapy will also be explored. Dissociative clients have a particular attachment style in which they have a simultaneous need both to connect and to avoid perceived danger in relationships. Participants will learn how to maintain connection and optimal closeness/distance with clients who simultaneously experience the therapist as needed and dangerous. Effective ways to work with both the dependent client and the highly avoidant client will be offered. Participants will learn how to recognize and address attachment-seeking behaviors that can underlie crisis and chaos in the therapy. Role play and case example will illustrate specific approaches and interventions.