The Integration of Traumatic Memories, Personality (Re)integration and Rehabilitation
A one-day workshop with Dr Onno van der Hart
London, 15 October 2016 (Saturday)
Ambassadors Bloomsbury, 12 Upper Woburn Place, WC1H 0HX
In our psychotherapeutic training across modalities, we receive emphasis on the first and fundamental phase of therapy for complex trauma-related disorders, which focusses on stabilisation and symptom reduction. The second phase, treatment of traumatic memories, receives much less attention, while the third one, personality (re)integration and rehabilitation, is usually overlooked. Informed by the theory of structural dissociation of personality, Dr Van der Hart has designed this workshop to be of relevance to psychotherapists, counsellors and psychologists who want to enhance their comprehension of phase-oriented treatment approaches for severe and complex trauma, including complex dissociative disorders. Using theoretical standpoints and practical case vignettes, he helps us understand that a major stumbling block for complex trauma therapy is the existence of various phobias in survivors. He explains the therapeutic interventions that need to follow initial stabilisation, such that our clients can systematically overcome these phobias.
Through exposition and therapeutic technique illustrations, the workshop helps us understand how:
- traumatized clients react with ‘recommencements’ when confronted with a reactivation of traumatic memories
- we can assist our clients in building an integrative capacity and active collaboration between dissociative parts – so they can achieve successful closure of traumatic repetitions
- we can comprehend the two levels of interventions: guided synthesis and guided realization
- we can maintain on severe grief reactions in the later parts of therapy
Overall, the workshop illustrates therapeutic techniques through which we can first enable clients in overcoming phobias associated with traumatic memories and then help them foster further integration of personality, including the unification of dissociative parts.
About the speaker
Dr Onno van der Hart is a psychologist/psychotherapist, who currently works in private practice in Amstelveen, the Netherlands. He is emeritus professor of psychopathology of chronic traumatization, Utrecht University, the Netherlands. He lectures internationally as a trainer, consultant and supervisor in the field of trauma-related dissociation.
After having been a family therapist and a psychotherapist working with unresolved grief, since 1980 he has specialised in the diagnostics and treatment of clients with complex trauma-related disorders and he has been actively involved in research in this area. He has been a president of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS) and a vice-president of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD). Over the years, the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation has granted him a number of Awards, including the Life Time Achievement Award, the President’s Award of Distinction, and the Pierre Janet Writing Award.
He has written extensively on his areas of interest, including a book that he has co-authored with Ellert Nijenhuis and Kathy Steele: The haunted self: Structural dissociation of the personality and treatment of chronic traumatization (Norton, 2006), and books with Suzette Boon and Kathy Steele: Coping with trauma-related dissociation: Skills training for patients and therapists (Norton, 2011) and Treating trauma-related dissociation: A practical, integrative approach (Norton, 2016). His website, www.onnovdhart.nl, contains several articles of interest.
10:00AM: Session 1: The integration of traumatic memories, Module 1
In the first session, we comprehend the building blocks of ongoing therapy for complex trauma. Specifically, we consider:
- The structural dissociation of personality: we look at the existence of dissociative parts of personality which are mediated by daily life action (motivational) systems and those mediated by the defense action system
- The role of phobias in maintaining dissociation of personality
- Preparation for Phase 2 treatment - including a thorough discussion of therapeutic procedures
- Overcoming the phobia of traumatic memories: Guided synthesis of traumatic memories, in terms of systematically sharing these among dissociative parts
11:30AM: Coffee Break
11:45AM: Session 2: The integration of traumatic memories, Module 2
Our discussion in the second session examines the process of guided synthesis. We comprehend:
- Fractionated guided synthesis of traumatic memories: a discussion of various forms
- Realization of past traumatic experiences: Placing them in one’s autobiography and the principles of personification
1:00PM: Lunch Break (a light lunch is provided as part of the workshop)
1:45PM: Session 3: Personality (re)integration and rehabilitation, Module 1
This session builds on our understanding from Sessions 1 and 2 and explains:
- Specific objectives for Phase 3 treatment
- Grief work: A major task throughout therapy, but especially in Phase 3 treatment
- Overcoming the phobia of fusion and unification of dissociative parts
- Pathways to the unification of dissociative parts
2:45PM: Coffee Break
3:00PM: Session 4: Personality (re)integration and rehabilitation, Module 2
We look at therapeutic implications of our discussions and consider:
- The unification of dissociative parts: Causes and treatment of relapses
- Overcoming the phobia of normal change
- Overcoming the phobia of intimacy
- Becoming skillful in leading life as an integrated person
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