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Many trauma courses touch on dissociation as a symptom, but very few trainings dive into dissociation as its own phenomenon, exploring its common presentations, various drivers, and targeted interventions. Dissociation is mysterious, and working with it can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be with the right training and practice!

Therapists can sometimes feel overwhelmed by the challenges and confusing presentations of clients who experience trauma-related dissociation, ranging from symptoms to disorders. This highly practical workshop will offer in-depth skills to assess and work with trauma-related dissociation. We will explore four types of phenomena that are included under the umbrella of dissociation, their different symptom presentations, and their different treatments. An emphasis will be placed on what has been called “structural dissociation,” that is, dissociation of the sense of self that results in aspects or parts of self that have undue separation and results in ongoing lack of voluntary awareness and control. This phenomenon is found in a range of trauma-related disorders, from complex PTSD to Dissociative Identity Disorder. Participants will learn strategies for assessment, including specific ways to ask about dissociation. Then we will explore the inner world of dissociative aspects of self and their functions, how they differ from normal ego states, why they remain overly separate, and how to promote gradual integration through the use of therapeutic process, a collaborative therapeutic relationship, and a number of specific techniques. Trauma-related conflicts and phobic avoidance, especially the phobia of inner experience (e.g., thoughts, emotions, sensations, memories, wishes, needs), will be addressed, and their treatment will be described as a central part of therapy.



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9:00am – 10:00am: Understanding Dissociation

10:00am – 10:15am: Break.

10:15am – 11:15am: Four Ways ‘Dissociation is Described in the Literature

11:15am – 12:00pm: What is a Dissociative Part?

12:00pm – 1:00pm: Lunch break.

1:00pm – 2:00pm: Ego States

2:00pm – 3:00pm: Complex PTSD and OSDD

3:00pm – 4:00pm: DID

4:00pm – 4:15pm: Break.

4:15pm – 4:30pm: Integrative Language


This training will provide participants clinical knowledge and tools to:

a). Define four types of dissociation and describe treatment differences.

b). Learn and practice to assess for dissociative symptoms.

c). Describe at least two step-wise systemic methods of working with dissociation that emphasize the integrity of the whole person.

d). Learn and understand at least five interventions to help clients overcome the phobia of inner experience (thoughts, emotions, sensations, memories, wishes, needs, etc.).

e). Identify and help the client resolve specific conflicts that are common in developmental trauma.

f). Identify and describe common avoidance defenses in clients who are dissociative and employ interventions to resolve them.

Target Audience:

The target audience for this event includes psychologists, social workers, counselors, MFT’s, psychiatrists and other clinical mental health professionals.


Instructional Level: Intermediate

Instructor(s): Kathy Steele, MN, CS

Material Author(s): Kathy Steele, MN, CS

Kathy Steele, MN, CS is in private practice in Atlanta, Georgia and is an Adjunct Faculty at Emory University. She is a Fellow and a past President of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD) and is the recipient of a number of awards for her clinical and published works, including the 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award from ISSTD. She has (co)authored numerous publications in the field of complex trauma and dissociation, including three books, and lectures internationally on topics related to trauma, dissociation, attachment, resistance, and impasses.

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