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Phobias in CSA Survivors: Transformative Therapeutic Insights for Embodied Healing

Phobias in CSA Survivors: Transformative Therapeutic Insights for Embodied Healing

The impact of child sexual abuse (CSA) can lead to a range of phobic reactions that act as a protective survival strategy to avoid the impact of exposure to trauma-related cues. Phobias may manifest in various forms, including avoidance of certain places, people, objects, or situations, as well as internal bodily sensations, feelings of shame, and intrusive thoughts and symbolic cues such as time associated with the trauma. These reactions, deeply rooted in the survivor’s psyche, can significantly impede their ability to navigate daily life. Moreover, survivors may grapple with dissociation, a coping mechanism that allows them to disconnect from distressing experiences, exacerbating the challenges of healing and recovery.

Times on both days:
6:00 pm – 9:00 pm, London UK

1:00 pm – 4:00 pm, New York, USA

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$130.71

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Course Credits

CPD: 6 / CE: 6

Speaker(s)

Christiane Sanderson

Course length in hours

6 hrs of video content

Location

Online streaming only

Full course information

In this compelling webinar, we embark on an exploration of phobic reactions in survivors of CSA, seeking to unravel their complexities and offer transformative therapeutic insights for practitioners:

  • Our journey begins with a comprehensive examination of the range and function of trauma-related cues that trigger phobic reactions. By understanding the underlying mechanisms driving these responses, therapists can better assist survivors in identifying and addressing their triggers. Through the use of clinical examples, particular attention will be focused on the range of sensory stimuli such as sound, smell, touch, visual and taste, as well as kinaesthetic cues such as body position, orientation, gestures, and movement which can trigger overwhelming reactions that need to be suppressed, masked, over-contained, or avoided.
  • In addition, we will examine how dissociation acts as a form of avoidance of trauma reactions such as shutting down to stop intrusive thoughts and ruminations. We will also explore how deleting the body helps survivors to avoid somatic sensations and how this can lead to a lack of embodiment and alexisomia, making it difficult to be aware and express somatic sensations and feelings.
  • Consideration will also be given to identifying phobic reactions to sex and sexuality, sexual acts, and sexual arousal such as interpersonal dynamics, personality traits, attachment, and trauma bond dynamics, gestures of caring and kindness, and being made to feel ‘special’ which can all trigger strong trauma reactions leading to avoidance and phobic reactions in relationships.

In mapping survivors’ individual trauma-related cues and stimuli and identifying specific phobic reactions and avoidance strategies, practitioners’ can begin to work with survivors on how to reclaim their bodies and mind and in order to become more embodied and present. Through engaging clinical examples and insightful case studies, we shed light on the diverse manifestations of phobias, from sensory stimuli to interpersonal dynamics, illuminating the multifaceted nature of survivors’ experiences. By incorporating emotional regulation and stabilisation skills, expanding the capacity for distress tolerance, and sensitively pacing systematic desensitization, practitioners can enable survivors to begin to tolerate previously suppressed trauma reactions and begin to process these rather than avoid them. This needs to be combined with trauma-informed practice to ensure the necessary safety for survivors to feel their feelings and sensations and to know what happened to them. This can be further aided by finding a language to describe their lived experience and how it has impacted them through somatic and emotional literacy – such that they can express internal states rather than be rendered voiceless.

Overall, in this comprehensive training programme, we will cover a wide array of topics aimed at enhancing practitioners’ understanding and therapeutic approach to phobic reactions commonly observed in survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA). These include:

  • Identifying the range of phobic reactions, encompassing external, internal, somatic, and symbolic triggers
  • Examining their intricate links to symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), such as flashbacks and avoidance
  • Delving into the function of phobic reactions as protective survival strategies, exploring how survivors may engage in phobic avoidance of external cues, cognitive intrusions, and interpersonal dynamics associated with trauma and CSA
  • Addressing the role of dissociation and shame in avoiding trauma-related stimuli, along with strategies for managing phobic reactions, such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Furthermore, the webinar will provide guidance on identifying and mapping phobic reactions, utilizing emotional regulation and systematic desensitization techniques to reduce their impact, and facilitating the process of reclaiming body and mind to promote embodiment and presence. Lastly, the webinar will encourage practitioners to recognize their own phobic reactions and develop the capacity to remain present and embodied in their therapeutic practice.

Learning Objectives:

  • Analyse the multifaceted nature of phobic reactions commonly observed in survivors of CSA, including external, internal, somatic, and symbolic triggers
  • Discuss the interrelationship between phobic reactions and PTSD symptoms, such as avoidance and intrusive thoughts, to enhance therapeutic interventions
  • Explain mapping trauma-related cues and stimuli, enabling practitioners to assist survivors in recognizing and managing their triggers effectively
  • Implement trauma-informed practices and emotional regulation techniques to support survivors in reclaiming their bodies and fostering embodiment
  • Discuss dissociation and its role in perpetuating phobic reactions, emphasizing the importance of integrating somatic and emotional literacy into therapeutic approaches

Through a refined understanding of phobic reactions and their underlying mechanisms, therapists can empower survivors of CSA to embark on a journey of healing and reclaim agency over their bodies and minds.

© nscience 2024 / 2025

What's included in this course

What you’ll learn

In mapping survivors’ individual trauma-related cues and stimuli and identifying specific phobic reactions and avoidance strategies, practitioners’ can begin to work with survivors on how to reclaim their bodies and mind and in order to become more embodied and present. Through engaging clinical examples and insightful case studies, we shed light on the diverse manifestations of phobias, from sensory stimuli to interpersonal dynamics, illuminating the multifaceted nature of survivors’ experiences. By incorporating emotional regulation and stabilisation skills, expanding the capacity for distress tolerance, and sensitively pacing systematic desensitization, practitioners can enable survivors to begin to tolerate previously suppressed trauma reactions and begin to process these rather than avoid them.

Learning objectives

  • Analyse the multifaceted nature of phobic reactions commonly observed in survivors of CSA, including external, internal, somatic, and symbolic triggers
  • Discuss the interrelationship between phobic reactions and PTSD symptoms, such as avoidance and intrusive thoughts, to enhance therapeutic interventions
  • Explain mapping trauma-related cues and stimuli, enabling practitioners to assist survivors in recognizing and managing their triggers effectively
  • Implement trauma-informed practices and emotional regulation techniques to support survivors in reclaiming their bodies and fostering embodiment
  • Discuss dissociation and its role in perpetuating phobic reactions, emphasizing the importance of integrating somatic and emotional literacy into therapeutic approaches

You'll also be able to...

Develop the ability to interpret and modulate the body’s nervous system (sensory and autonomic) to regulate arousal levels in clients and for safer trauma therapy

Identify and acquire recovery options and strategies for trauma clients inappropriate for trauma memory processing, particularly for those who don’t want to and those who decompensate or dysregulate from memory work

Also develop the ability to interpret and modulate the body’s nervous system (sensory and autonomic) to regulate arousal levels for professional self-care

About the speaker(s)

Christiane Sanderson BSc, MSc. is an Honorary Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Roehampton, of London with 35years of experience working with survivors of childhood sexual abuse and sexual violence. She has delivered consultancy, continuous professional development and professional training for parents, teachers, social workers, nurses, therapists, counsellors, solicitors, the NSPCC, the Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Committee, the Methodist Church, the Metropolitan Police Service, SOLACE, the Refugee Council, Birmingham City Council Youth Offending Team, and HMP Bronzefield.

She is the author of Counselling Skills for Working with Shame, Counselling Skills for Working with Trauma: Healing from Child Sexual Abuse, Sexual Violence and Domestic Abuse, Counselling Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse, 3rd edition, Counselling Survivors of Domestic Abuse, The Seduction of Children: Empowering Parents and Teachers to Protect Children from Child Sexual Abuse, and Introduction to Counselling Survivors of Interpersonal Trauma, all published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers. She has also written The Warrior Within: A One in Four Handbook to Aid Recovery from Sexual Violence; The Spirit Within: A One in Four Handbook to Aid Recovery from Religious Sexual Abuse Across All Faiths and Responding to Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse: A pocket guide for professionals, partners, families and friends for the charity One in Four for whom she is a trustee.

Program outline

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