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Transforming Trauma-Related Resistance and Stuckness

Event Details
Date: 12th and 13th October 2019
Venue: Brisbane, Qld
CPD hrs: 14
Early: $650
Standard: $720
Late: $770
Group and Student Discounts Available
Organiser: Delphi Centre

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Trauma treatment is invariably complicated by the fact that almost every kind of traumatic experience involves incompetence or cruelty perpetrated by other human beings. The result is that, thereafter, human beings no longer feel safe: they feel threatening. To seek help may bring initial relief for clients but also raise doubts: Is it better to trust or avoid trusting? Is it better to submit to the therapist’s conditions or run the other way? Seeking help may evoke unconscious hypervigilance, fear, or pulling back. What we label “resistance” may actually reflect inherent trauma-related conflicts activated by all forms of treatment and all types of therapist.

Whether resistance manifests as a passive aggressive ‘no’ to every therapeutic intervention, as unchecked self-destructive behavior, a struggle for therapeutic control, or desperation for help alternating with resistance to accepting it, the underlying dilemma is the same.

Coming to therapy is a cry for help, requiring vulnerability. Being offered help is associated with powerlessness, humiliation or abuse, evoking flight, fight, freeze and submit responses. Even when clients sincerely want something different for themselves, they cannot control the triggering of instinctive survival defenses, nor the fact that each survival response is inherently in conflict with another. Should the client commit to therapy or flee? Combat the therapist’s every effort? Or “submit” by coming but not fully participating?

In this workshop, we will explore the complex relationships between these internal trauma-related conflicts and resistance in psychotherapy. Using techniques drawn from Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Internal Family Systems, and other mindfulness-based psychotherapy models, participants will learn how to de-code resistance and help clients become aware of their therapy-related conflicts as internal, not interpersonal struggles. Then we can help them address resistance as a normal aspect of trauma treatment. We have a chance to become part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

Learning objectives

  • Identify the effects of traumatic experiences on attachment formation
  • Discuss the role of implicit memory in post-traumatic symptoms
  • Describe manifestations of animal defense survival responses
  • Differentiate common conflicts between survival defenses observed in relationships
  • Summarize the aspects of psychotherapy that evoke defensive responses in traumatized clients
  • Describe the association between client resistance or stuckness and trauma-related survival defenses
  • Discuss ways of evoking curiosity in stuck or resistant clients
  • Articulate the role of ‘re-framing’ the symptoms in trauma treatment
  • Utilize Sensorimotor Psychotherapy interventions to help clients notice resistance without shame
  • Summarize the structural dissociation model for understanding resistance
  • Utilize parts-related interventions to help clients resolve their resistance and/or stuckness

Presenter details

Janina Fisher, Ph.D. is a Clinical Psychologist and Instructor at the Trauma Center, a clinic and research center founded by Bessel van der Kolk. Known for her expertise as a clinician, author, and presenter, she is Assistant Director of the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute, past president of the New England Society for the Treatment of Trauma and Dissociation, an EMDR International Association Consultant, and former Instructor, Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Fisher has authored a number of articles on trauma treatment and lectures nationally and internationally on the integration of the neurobiological research and body-oriented psychotherapy into traditional therapeutic modalities. She is also co-author with Pat Ogden of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy: Interventions for Attachment and Trauma (July 2014) and author of Healing the Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivors (2015). More information can be found on her website:

Best known for her ability to apply the newest theoretical models and research to the practical realities of psychotherapeutic practice, Dr. Fisher is a popular speaker around the world.

Location and date

Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, Brisbane

12th and 13th October 2019


Early: $650
Standard: $720
Late: $770
Group and Student Discounts Available


03 9416 3833

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers