Transforming Crises into Transformation in the Treatment of Complex Trauma

In these two short videos Prof. Julian Ford talks about crtical moments in psychotherapy and the importance of identity in healing.

Part 1     Part 2


This workshop explores the complexities of therapy with survivors of complex trauma, with videos that show critical moments in psychotherapy sessions and case studies that engage participants in shared reflection on how healing and recovery occur in the moment—as well as the impact of secondary traumatic stress and the inspiring posttraumatic resilience of survivors.

Practical tools and guidelines for facilitating co-regulation, achieving and communicating empathic attunement, engaging different clients in self-directed approaches to trauma memory processing, and recognizing and managing one’s own countertransference reactions will be described and illustrated by videos of the presenter’s sessions. 

The presentation will draw on material included in two recent books published by Dr. Ford, Treating Complex Traumatic Stress Disorders, 2nd Edition (co-edited, Guilford Press, 2020) and Critical Moments in Psychotherapy:  Transforming Crises into Turning Points  (American Psychological Association Press, 2020), Dr. Ford’s writings and research on the TARGET(c) (Trauma Affect Regulation: Guide for Education and Therapy) as described in a new chapter in the former book and in Hijacked by Your Brain: How to Free Yourself when Stress Takes Over (Sourcebook Press, 2013).

Dr. Ford’s groundbreaking research in the Developmental Trauma Disorder Field Trial and clinical and educational curricula from the Center for the Treatment of Developmental Trauma Disorder Center for Trauma Recovery and Juvenile Justice (both of which he directs in the National Child Traumatic Stress Network) and his formulation of a unifying framework for trauma memory processing (Journal of Traumatic Stress, 2018, pp. 933-942) also will be presented, with films of dramatized psychotherapy sessions illustrating key practical clinical tools.

Topics to be discussed in this training include:

This workshop is highly attuned with the Australian federal government funded practice guidelines for treatment of complex trauma and trauma-informed care and service delivery -“The Last Frontier” (2012) and second edition (2019) published by Blue Knot Foundation (formerly Adults Surviving Child Abuse) and the Australian Guidelines for the Treatment of Acute Stress Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder published by the Australian Phoenix Centre.

Core principles and best practices based on the full range of evidence-based/informed models of treatment of complex trauma, and innovations in working with diverse groups of survivors across the lifespan, will be articulated and demonstrated. Dr Ford will cover practical information and specific approaches that attendees can immediately use (or that may interest them in getting additional training in therapeutic models developed or adapted for complex trauma), as well as discussion and case examples and filmed sessions to identify and handle /prevent crises and major stuck points in treatment, including with patients who present with complicated characterological, suicidal, substance abuse, dissociative, aggression, and self-harm problems.


Program Outline

DAY 1 


1. Complex trauma, Complex posttraumatic adaptations   

a) Definition (survival threat + exceeds adaptive capacity + alters self-regulation trajectory)

2. Types  (maltreatment, betrayal, abandonment, violence, exploitation, polyvictimization)

a) Conceptualizations and diagnostic formulations  (DSM, ICD, DESNOS, DTD) 

b) Understanding self-regulation’s central role: survival brain vs. learning brain

c) Attachment security vs. insecurity, disorganization, and dissociation

d) Co-regulation, scaffolding, and mirroring vs. dysregulation (freeze/fight/flight/immobility)

e) Film: Samantha

3) Overview of Treatment for Complex and Developmental Trauma  

a) Complex trauma, complex treatment - Dante’s Inferno as a guiding metaphor

b) Phases and the logical (but often non-linear) progression to recovery and resilience

c) A trans-theoretical trans-model template: the TARGET© FREEDOM steps

d) A brief tour of major treatment models (from Ford & Courtois, 2020)

4) Phase 1: Alliance, Co-Regulation, Assessment 

a) Film: Rose

b) Listening, attuning, joining, active partnering

c) Film: Adam (2)

d) Grounding, aligning, connecting, stabilizing

e) Tools: International Trauma Questionnaire

f) Tools: Developmental Trauma Disorder Semi-structured Interview

5) Early Phase Crisis Resolution 

   a) Film: Monica, Trish, and Michael

  b) Co-regulation in response to dissociative flashbacks

 c) Reframing distress as solution-seeking

  d) Restoring boundaries, re-aligning coalitions and triangles

 DAY 2 


6) Phase 2: Trauma Memory and Emotion Processing    

a) Assessing readiness for processing

b) What is processing?

c) What is processed?

d) What is the goal of processing?

e) Anger, Grief, and Dissociation

f) Film: Monica and Trish

g) Shame, Betrayal, and Helplessness

h) Film: Adam (1)

i) Therapist self-regulation to facilitate co-regulation and manage countertransference

7) Phase 3: Consolidation and Application to Life, Treatment Closure  

a) Restoration of Sense of Self as Present, Competent, and Trustworthy

b) Understanding Triggered Dysregulation as Questions Still to be Answered

c) Forgiveness and Reconciliation – You are the Evidence of What You’re Searching For

d) Closure: the Forever Relationship and the Inner Gifts and Guide

e) Film: Taylor Family

8) Walking the Walk: Case Studies from the presenter or from the audience

a) The client (and therapist) should leave every session with new understanding and tools

b) Success includes failing nobly

c) First do no harm: Subtle and obvious countertransference enactments

d) Every client is our teacher

e) The inspiring resilience of complex trauma survivors


Learning Objectives

Attendees will be able to: