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|November 4, 2023
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Once-upon-a-time, if Snow White presented to a psychiatrist describing her attempted murder, talking animals, whispering trees and living in a forest with seven male strangers, she would likely receive a diagnosis of hysteria, psychosis, a personality disorder or schizophrenia. Today, through a trauma-informed lens grounded in neuroscience, we would ask not, “What is wrong with Snow White?” Rather, we would wonder, “What happened to Snow White?” In exploring carefully, sensitively and respectfully, we would learn of her history of complex and developmental trauma, the loss of her mother at birth, attachment disruption, neglect, betrayal and family violence.
Childhood abuse and betrayal trauma set in motion the development of complicated attachment styles, disrupted sense of Self, intense self-loathing, and paralysing shame. Clients present with a range of symptomatology and seemingly self-sabotaging behaviours. They may meet criteria for several diagnosis, including complex PTSD, personality disorders, eating disorders, dissociative disorders, substance abuse disorders, anxiety disorders, mood disorders, non-suicidal self-injury, and suicidal ideation. The Snow White model reframes the medicalised ‘disordered’ perspective and approaches symptoms and behaviours as functional adaptations or accommodations to trauma, rooted in self-protection and survival, “the problem is not the problem but a solution to another problem.”
Harnessing the fairy-tale of Snow White as a metaphor, each character is recognised as a ‘Part’ in a complex personality structure with a role and function to protect Snow White from the pain of overwhelming trauma, abuse, and neglect. This workshop will demystify complex dynamics and behaviours and provide strategies to work with internal conflicts and protective behaviours embodied by different parts. A non-pathologizing approach, the Snow White model provides a comprehensive framework to assist clients in healing early attachment and trauma-based wounds. Using video, case examples and exercises, Naomi will assist you to identify what works for whom, and when.
Setting the scene:
Reframing complex symptoms and behaviour: core trauma dynamics
Navigating common therapy pitfalls
The impact of developmental trauma on attachment formation, style and implications for the therapeutic relationship
Targeting interventions: “What works for whom”:
The neuro-affective compasses:
Working within window of tolerance – developing tolerance for the intolerable
Four strategies to work with parts
Stepping toward challenging emotions: peeling the layers of the onion
1. Understand the protective role and function of self-sabotaging behaviours and symptoms
2. Utilise a ‘parts’ approach in working with complex trauma and attachment related conflicts
3. Identify activation of four core trauma dynamics within the client’s internal and external world
4. Engage therapeutically appropriate to a parts attachment style
5. Responding safely when the triangle is activated in therapy
6. Work within the window of tolerance of each part
7. Apply understanding of the trigger loop to unlock internal conflicts
8. Facilitate four strategies to work with parts
Fairy tales, myths and legends, reflect societal inequities and the power and political constructs of their time. The gendered, racial and ableist biased themes in Snow White and other tales of its genre have rightly been highlighted in recent years, in particular how recent movies have perpetuated or attempted to address these issues.
Interpersonal trauma occurs within, and because of hierarchical abuses of power. The themes within Snow White are sadly, relevant today. The Snow White fairy-tale originates in northern Europe. It will be familiar throughout Europe and most English-speaking countries. The protagonist is a Caucasian heterosexual female. However, the framework presented can be applied to any gender identity and sexual orientation.
The characters may not be familiar with people from other cultures, but the concept of multiplicity of mind is applicable across humankind. It may be understood as possession states, ancestors or gods. I encourage therapists to find myths and folklore belonging to the culture of their clients and explore ways in which these stories may provide a recognisable parts framework.
Naomi trained as a social worker in the UK. Early in her career she worked with children in short stay emergency care, homeless youth, and convicted offenders in government and non-government organisations, providing advocacy, psychosocial education, recreational opportunities, skills training, supervision and counselling.
In 1987, Naomi went into partnership at The Delphi Centre, now known as Delphi Training and Consulting where she developed expertise in therapy for adult sequelae of childhood abuse, neglect and attachment disruptions.
Naomi provides clinical consultation for complex post-traumatic stress, dissociative disorders and related impacts of childhood developmental trauma and abuse including self-harming behaviour, suicidality and substance abuse, for mental health professionals working with adult victim-survivors of intergenerational trauma, gender-based violence, and other trauma. She has a wealth of experience working with people across socioeconomic groups, faiths, and sexual orientation.
She is a consultant and trainer for law firms, providing trauma informed training and supporting lawyers’ mental health and wellbeing. Since 2009, Naomi has been a consultant to the United Nations developing and delivering a broad range of trauma informed programs to personnel in missions and duty stations around the world. Most recently she developed a Gatekeeper suicide prevention training for Safety and Security Services and trauma informed awareness training for the Office of the Special Coordinator on improving the UN’s response to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, the Ombudsman and Ethics Units and Human Resources and Services Department.
A skilled speaker and trainer, Naomi has presented training about complex and developmental trauma, vicarious trauma, resilience building and workplace wellbeing through Delphi and United Nations, in-person and online across all Australian States and Territories – Africa – Denmark – Germany – India – Italy – Lebanon – New Zealand – Romania – Thailand – United States. See organisations Naomi has partnered
A founding member of The Australian Association of Trauma and Dissociation Inc. in 1992 (amalgamated with the Australasian Association of Traumatic Stress Studies in 1996) Naomi served on the Executive Committee and Conference Committee from 1991 – 1996, and as Treasurer from 1992 – 1995.
She is a founding member and spokesperson for an action group for victims of white collar crime. An advocate for victims of deceptive and misleading financial advice, Naomi has provided submissions and testimony to senate committees and other inquiries and has been an invited speaker at financial industry forums regarding the impact of white collar crime, the changes needed in the industry and legislation. She has worked closely with parliamentarians across political parties and the media. She is frequently contacted for commentary.
Naomi is a Fellow of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (2017) and recipient of the Distinguished Achievement Award (2022) .
She is co-author with Dr Colin A. Ross, (2009) Trauma Model Therapy: A Treatment Approach for Trauma, Dissociation and Complex Comorbidity, Manitou Inc. and two studies about Maladaptive daydreaming.
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