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Counteracting Negativity Bias in Traumatized Clients: Video Course

Counteracting Negativity Bias in Traumatized Clients: Video Course

I believe the key to healing is not just knowing what happened but transforming how the mind, body, and soul still remember it – Dr Janina Fisher

Traumatic experiences result in a ‘living legacy’ of enduring effects. The responses that ensure survival and preserve our psychological integrity under threat do not diminish once safety is obtained. Meant to warn us of impending danger, these survival defenses continue to re-evoke the events of long ago for decades afterward. These defenses can manifest as intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, and heightened arousal, making it challenging for our clients to regain a sense of security and emotional stability. Moreover, such ‘living legacy’ can profoundly alter one’s worldview and belief systems, eroding trust in others and engendering a sense of vulnerability that endures for years, if not a lifetime.

Video course packs, including all notes are available immediately on booking. The access links are part of your ticket. Online video access remains available for 1 year from the date you receive the video course.

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There is no known commercial support for this programme.

This course does not qualify for CE credits.

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$85.89

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Course Credits

CPD: 3 / CE: N/A

Speaker(s)

Janina Fisher

Course length in hours

3 hrs of video content

Full course information

Making the legacy even more complicated to resolve for us, as therapists, is the existence of ‘negativity bias,’ a brain mechanism that facilitates safety by expecting the worse.  The brain is organized to preferentially bring attention and give more weight to negative information and experiences – a fact that can significantly impede the recovery process following trauma. Research has shown that the negativity bias is active as young as six months of age. Long before individuals have been traumatized, their brains are biased to perceive and remember negative events before positive ones. This bias leads trauma survivors to focus on distressing memories, emotions, and perceived threats, amplifying their impact and hindering the integration of positive or adaptive experiences. The brain’s disproportionate focus on negativity perpetuates symptoms like anxiety and flashbacks, while impeding the exploration of healing strategies and the cultivation of resilience. Essentially, a negative experience is encoded as a memory at a faster rate than positive ones, making all of our mixed experiences likely to be perceived as negative.

To alter the negativity bias requires therapists to help clients focus less on the traumatic events and more on the here and now. We must help clients understand that failure to recognize and deliberately remember positive experiences means that their brains will not see a brighter present or future. Rather than ‘treating’ the events that resulted in this legacy, neuroscience teaches us to treat their effects, to treat the emotional and somatic consequences. With the right therapeutic tools at our disposal, we can encourage clients to engage in positive activities and experiences, gradually shifting their focus away from negativity. Importantly, cultivating a safe and trusting therapeutic relationship provides a platform for clients to share their experiences openly, challenging distorted beliefs and fostering resilience.

At this intellectually challenging and therapeutically oriented seminar with globally acclaimed trauma specialist Dr Janina Fisher, we will address the special challenges involved in managing the dual challenges of the living legacy of trauma and the negativity bias

Using clinical vignettes, we will explore how therapists can tailor their approach to the unique needs of each client, employing evidence-based strategies to counter the negativity bias and support the journey toward healing and recovery.

Learning Objectives: 

  • Define and describe both living legacy and the negativity bias
  • Recognize the cognitive, affective and somatic effects of negativity bias – understand how the bias can lead to distorted thought patterns, heightened emotional responses, and physiological reactions, all of which impede the recovery process; especially when acting in conjunction with living legacy
  • Describe interventions that directly address counteracting the negativity bias as a path to resolving trauma

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What's included in this course

What you’ll learn

At this intellectually challenging and therapeutically oriented seminar with globally acclaimed trauma specialist Dr Janina Fisher, we will address the special challenges involved in managing the dual challenges of the living legacy of trauma and the negativity bias

Using clinical vignettes, we will explore how therapists can tailor their approach to the unique needs of each client, employing evidence-based strategies to counter the negativity bias and support the journey toward healing and recovery.

Learning objectives

  • Recognize the cognitive, affective and somatic effects of negativity bias – understand how the bias can lead to distorted thought patterns, heightened emotional responses, and physiological reactions, all of which impede the recovery process; especially when acting in conjunction with living legacy
  • Define and describe both living legacy and the negativity bias
  • Describe interventions that directly address counteracting the negativity bias as a path to resolving trauma

About the speaker(s)

Janina Fisher, Ph.D. is a licensed Clinical Psychologist and former Instructor, Harvard Medical School. She is a Board member of the Trauma Research Foundation and the co-author with Pat Ogden of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy (2015) and author of Healing the Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivors:  Overcoming Internal Self-Alienation (2017) and Transforming the Living Legacy of Trauma: a Workbook for Survivors and Therapists (2021).

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