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The Role of Fantasy in Complex Trauma

An online webinar

Speaker: Kathy Steele

Date: 18 February 2022, Friday 
Location: Online streaming only (
all our webinar tickets now include complimentary access to a video recorded version for 1 year)
Times: 6:00pm to 9:00pm, London, UK time
CPD hours: 3

Early bird ticket price per delegate for online streaming + video recording of the event: £56

Webinar attendance links can now be downloaded directly from your ticket.

For more information on how to access webinar joining links, handouts and video recordings please click here


Our ability for imagination can be an important source of strength and comfort. If life is tough over a prolonged period of time, as is the case with Complex Trauma, our clients may at times, disengage from reality in favour of an internal fantasy world. Fantasies can provide wonderful, if fleeting escapes from reality, allowing for alternative explorations of secure attachment and healing. However, they may also become prisons, driving maladaptive expectations and behaviours, and avoiding reality.
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Full Course Information

Some of the fantasies for example that we come face-to-face with in our clinical settings include:

  • omnipotent and perfectionistic wishes that manifest in inner critical beliefs and avoidance of help and support
  • fantasies of care and rescue that drive dependency
  • fantasies of the perfect relationship; narcissistic fantasies of power, control, and exceptionalism
  • erotic fantasies
  • and fantasies involving rage, sadistic masochistic elements, and revenge

At this therapeutically oriented webinar, which would be especially pertinent for psychotherapists and counsellors, acclaimed Trauma expert Kathy Steele discusses the roles of both conscious and unconscious fantasies in clients with complex trauma, and their intersection with maladaptive daydreaming. Participants will learn how to recognize both conscious and unconscious fantasies and discuss these with their clients in a non-judgmental and curious way. We will then explore ways to resolve the central conflicts and avoidance of reality in these fantasies, including promotion of grieving and acceptance.

Our learning objectives at this webinar are:

  • Discuss the adaptive role of fantasy in trauma recovery
  • Identify maladaptive fantasies that prevent progress in therapy
  • Identify ways to uncover fantasies that are not conscious to the client
  • Delineate core issues involved in maladaptive fantasies in trauma survivors
  • Analyse different types of fantasies and therapeutic approaches for their resolution

About the speaker

Kathy Steele, MN, CS has been treating complex trauma, dissociation, and attachment issues since 1985. She is in private practice with Metropolitan Psychotherapy Services and is Adjunct Faculty at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, US.  Kathy is a Past President and Fellow of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD), and has also previously served on the Board of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS). She has been involved with developing treatment guidelines for Dissociative Disorders and well as for Complex Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Kathy has received a number of awards for her work, including the 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award from ISSTD, an Emory University Distinguished Alumni Award in 2006, and the 2011 Cornelia B. Wilbur Award for Outstanding Clinical Contributions.  She is known for her humour, compassion, respect, and depth of knowledge as a clinician and a teacher, and for her capacity to present complex issues in easily understood and clear ways using an integrative psychotherapy model that draws from both traditional and somatic approaches. She is sought as a consultant and supervisor, and as an international lecturer.

She has co-authored three books as part of the acclaimed Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology: The Haunted Self: Structural dissociation of the personality and chronic traumatization (2006, Van der Hart, Nijenhuis, & Steele – W. W. Norton); Coping with trauma-related dissociation: Skills training for patients and therapists (2011, Boon, Steele, & Van der Hart – W. W. Norton); and most recently, Treating trauma-related dissociation: A practical, integrative approach (2017, Steele, Boon, & Van der Hart – W. W. Norton). She has also (co)authored numerous book chapters and journal articles.

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