Becoming thoroughly informed about dissociation is mandatory for all clinicians working with traumatized individuals, including therapists working with EMDR. Structural dissociation of the personality—originally described by Pierre Janet and further elaborated in recent times – is fundamental to the understanding and treatment of any client or patient who has been seriously traumatized.
The theory of structural dissociation of the personality (TSDP) postulates that the personality of traumatized individuals is unduly divided in two basic types of dissociative parts. One type involves apparently normal parts of the personality (ANP), primarily mediated by daily life action or motivational systems. The other type involves emotional parts (EP), primarily mediated by the defensive action or attachment cry system, that contain the individual’s traumatic memories. The more complex and chronic the traumatization, the more complex also the structural dissociation, manifesting in the development of more EPs and ANPs respectively.
The workshop will describe the nature of structural dissociation and its various levels of complexity and how to identify its many symptoms. Participants will be informed about a practical and theoretically sound phase-oriented approach to treating the “whole” client or patient while dealing effectively with dissociative parts and with the difficult issues in which dissociation may play a major role, such as self harm, substance abuse, eating problems, and unstable relational patterns. Phase-oriented treatment consists of:
- stabilization, symptom reduction, and skills training;
- treatment of traumatic memories; and
- personality (re)integration and rehabilitation.
This workshop will also introduce the role of disorganize attachment in complex trauma. Fundamentally disorganized attachment styles make a person vulnerable to dissociative disorders in later life. An infant is biologically wired to attach to the caregiver. According to Bowlby’s definition, attachment is related to seeking care and help, and soothing when facing environmental threats or in times of perceived loneliness and distress Complex trauma can develop as the result of ccumulative traumas in the infant, which leads to the persistent activation of the defense system. Typically the attachment figure either does not protect the child from traumatic experiences (neglect) or is the perpetrator of repeated maltreatment. Conflicting and persistent activation of the attachment and the defense system is the hallmark of attachment disorganization. Implications for treatment and the application of EMDR will be discussed.
The workshop’s emphasis is on understanding and treating the more complexly traumatized clients or patients. The workshop will include a brief overview of theory, didactics, role plays, and video presentations.