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ENACTING DISTRESS: CLARIFYING AND WORKING WITH TRAUMA EXPRESSIONS - Addressing the clinical interface between complex trauma and dissociation

Event Details
Date: 30 Oct 2020
Venue: Sydney, NSW
CPD hrs: 7

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Organiser: The Professional Development People

It is well known that trauma is re-enacted but the reenactment of trauma poses many clinical challenges. This is partly because unresolved trauma is often dissociated and non-verbal, expressed in domains other than spoken language. While the basic trauma response of `fight/flight/freeze’ is now familiar, less attention has been paid to the third of these and to dissociative responses in which what cannot be expressed in words is interpersonalised and enacted including in the therapy room. Many clinicians recognize that trauma is enacted in the lives of their clients but are less attuned to how it plays out within the therapy relationship itself. This is especially when the trauma is complex. This seminar addresses the interface between complex trauma and dissociation, which is interpersonalised in the form of enactments which occur within - as well as outside - the therapy room, and which can derail the therapy unless identified and addressed. While this task falls to the therapist, the role of unconscious dynamics and intersubjectivity pose ongoing challenges to effective trauma therapy. The seminar explains why enactments (`the interpersonalisation of dissociation’) are frequent and inevitable in therapy for complex trauma, how to identify them, and how to address the clinical challenges which arise when they occur. Via initial focus on the nature and process of dissociation, we will explore how this process becomes enacted and interpersonalised in the therapy room, and how the attempt of the client to self-protect can tangle with our own unconscious processes. This will assist in navigation of crises and `stuckness’ which are common in clinical work of various types. It will also enhance confidence in addressing the many therapeutic challenges involved.

Learning objectives

  • Understand the relationship between complex trauma and dissociation.
  • Recognise how dissociated experience is enacted in the therapy room.
  • Identify ways in which the therapist, in interaction with the client, participates in enactments.
  • Assist the client to tolerate previously overwhelming experience via our own ability to navigate enactments in the therapy room.

Presenter details

Pam Stavropoulos PhD is an educator, consultant and therapist, with a particular interest in the politics of trauma and depression. A member of the Advisory Board of the Scientific Committee of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD) she is co-author of the nationally and internationally endorsed Practice Guidelines for Clinical Treatment of Complex Trauma (2019). A former Fulbright scholar, Pam has held lectureships at Macquarie University and the University of New England, and is a former Program Director at the Jansen Newman Institute where she also taught in the Master’s program. She is the author of Living under Liberalism: The Politics of Depression in Western Democracies (Florida: Universal, 2008) has written research reports in the community health sector, and is also a clinical supervisor.

Location and date

UTS Short Course Rooms
Level 7, Building 10,
235 Jones Street,
Ultimo, NSW 2007

30 October 2020



Standard fee $298

This event is fully catered and all resources are provided.

Students and new graduates may apply to attend at a discount apply here.


Register online by clicking here

Ph: 1300 887 622 OR Inquire about this as inhouse training, wherever you are - we come to you.

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers