Healing the Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivors: Overcoming Self-Alienation
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’ as well as 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 the self with mindfulness-based interest and curiosity. As their young parts are identified and understood as ‘hero’s’ 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, 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 still learn to feel protective of their younger selves and even to welcome home these ‘lost souls’ with warmth and self-compassion.
- To identify signs and symptoms of fragmentation and internal conflict
- To facilitate mindful tracking of fragmented parts of the self
- To decrease client phobias of emotion and inner experience by increasing mindfulness-based dual awareness
- To utilize somatic interventions for regulating autonomic arousal and affect dysregulation to calm the body
- To integrate interpersonal neurobiology and social engagement techniques into the treatment
- To increase self-compassion through growing empathy for wounded child parts
- To foster ‘earned secure attachment’
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Janina Fisher, Ph.D.
Dr Fisher is a licensed Clinical Psychologist and Instructor at the Trauma Centre, an outpatient clinic and research centre founded by Bessel van der Kolk. Known for her expertise as both a clinician and consultant, she is also Assistant Director of the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute, an EMDR International Association Credit Provider, Psychological Services Director, Khiron Clinics UK, past president of the New England Society for the Treatment of Trauma and Dissociation, and a former Instructor, Harvard Medical School. Dr. Fisher lectures and teaches nationally and internationally on topics related to the integration of the neurobiological research and newer trauma treatment paradigms into traditional therapeutic modalities. She is the author of Psychoeducational Aids for Treating Psychological Trauma, co-author of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy: Interventions for Trauma and Dissociation, and author of the forthcoming book, Healing the Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivors: Overcoming Internal Self-Alienation.
Published and Unpublished Articles
- “Putting the Pieces Together: 25 Years of Learning Trauma Treatment” | Download PDF
Published in Psychotherapy Networker, May/June 2014.
- “The Treatment of Structural Dissociation in Chronically Traumatized Patients” | Download PDF
Published in In Anstorp & Benum (2014). Trauma treatment in practice: complex trauma and dissociation. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.
- “Sensorimotor Approaches to Trauma Treatment” | Download PDF
Published in Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, July 2011.
- “Attachment as a Sensorimotor Experience” | Download PDF
Published in Attachement: New Directions in Psychotherapy and Relational Psychoanalysis, July, 2011.
- “Retraining the Brain: Harnessing Our Neuralplasticity” | Download PDF
Published in the Psychotherapy Networker, March, 2011.
- “Brain to Brain: The Therapist as Neurobiological Regulator” | Download PDF
Published in the Psychotherapy Networker, January, 2010.
- “Working with the Neurobiological Legacy of Trauma” (unpublished paper) | Download PDF
- “Addictions and Trauma Recovery” (unpublished paper) | Download PDF
- “Stabilization in the Treatment of Trauma” (unpublished paper) | Download PDF
- “Self-harm and Suicidality” (unpublished paper) | Download PDF
- “Dissociative Phenomena in the Everyday Lives of Trauma Survivors” | Download PDF
- “Adapting EMDR Techniques in the Treatment of Dissociative or Dysregulated Clients” (unpublished paper) | Download PDF
- “Modified EMDR Resource Development Protocol” (unpublished paper) | Download PDF