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The Most Unlikely Couple: Working with Child and Perpetrator Parts of the Traumatised Client: Video Course


Speaker: Kathy Steele

Product: Video Course
Price: £199

CPD Hours: 10

Video course packs, including all notes are sent by an email link. Online video access remains available for 60 days from the date you receive the video course.

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Clients with early relational trauma develop inner representations of themselves not only as the abused child, but also as the perpetrator. These dual representations can range from normal ego states to highly separated dissociative parts of self. Both, child-parts and perpetrator-imitating parts are a natural outcome of disorganised attachment, in which clients need to attach but also need to defend against caregivers that are abusive, resulting in an impossible dilemma that is internally enacted by these two types of parts. This inner enactment often has significant negative effects on the therapeutic relationship.

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Full Course Information

At this practical workshop, which is relevant for psychotherapists, counsellors, clinical psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers; we will explore why these aspects of the client are inseparable and how each depends on the other to define and maintain its existence. We will learn how to work with this unlikely inner couple of the child and perpetrator-imitating parts. While we are more accustomed to working with child parts of the client that may be reliving the traumatic experience, parts that imitate the perpetrator are more challenging to engage and understand. They are often hidden and serve as the last and strongest line of defence for the client against vulnerability, helplessness, rage, and yearning to be connected to others. Thus, these parts should not be banished, ignored, or resisted in therapy. Instead, they can be understood and worked with as part of the client as a whole.

Through case-vignettes and examples, delegates will learn how:

  • Child parts and perpetrator-imitating parts are bound together by a traumatic combination of fear, rage, shame, dependency and loyalty
  • These parts each enact trauma in their respective roles – serving to avoid painful emotions and memories
  • We can work systematically with both parts to promote better integration and functioning
  • Both parts require a compassionate and boundaried approach; and both hold keys to help resolve traumatic memory and attachment problems
  • Perpetrator-imitating parts exert influence over the client even though they are often hidden and reluctant to engage in therapy
  • Perpetrator-imitating parts remain the last major defence of the client as a whole against vulnerability, helplessness and the desire to connect with others
  • We can resolve the traumatic loyalty the client has for the abuser
  • We can work with child parts in a way that minimises dependency on the therapist and helps the client as a whole to accept and be responsible for these parts

The workshop is consistent with and would be a beneficial adjunct to multiple modalities of psychotherapy or specialised trauma therapy (including analytical, dynamic and somatic approaches, cognitive behavioural and EMDR).

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.  Ms. Steele 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. Ms. Steele 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 humor, compassion, respect, and depth of knowledge as a clinician and 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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