Treating the Cycle of Self-Destructive Behaviors in Traumatized Clients
June 18-22, 2012
Many adolescent and adult clients with histories of trauma, abuse, and neglect have an increased vulnerability towards using self-mutilation, addictions, and eating disordered behaviors to cope and self-soothe, numb and dissociate from unresolved pain. In this training, clinicians will learn about the dynamics of early childhood trauma and the impact that poor attachment has on affect regulation. We will process the classic red flags associated with abuse, explore the issue of affect dysregulation, and connect it to a cycle of self-destructive behaviors. As we de-pathologize these behaviors, participants will learn about a specific “cycle of self-harm” which emphasizes the impact of triggering events, negative cognitions and affect, dissociation, and anxiety on self-harming behaviors. It will also provide helping professionals with a concrete model for intervention.
A variety of creative and effective treatment strategies will be offered to help reduce and eventually extinguish these behaviors. An emphasis will be placed on strategies that are designed to increase internal and external safety, promote grounding and containment, reduce flashbacks and help clients self-soothe in healthier ways. We will explore the idea of “working with” self-destructive behaviors by de-coding their meta-communication while learning how to avoid the power struggles and increased self-harm that often accompanies ineffective “safety contracts”. A more effective, alternative contract, called CARESS, will be presented. Clinical case examples, clients’ writings and artwork will be incorporated into the workshop.
- Defining traumatic experiences and their relationship to loss
- The relationship between trauma, developmental challenges, attachment, affect dysregulation and self-destructive behaviors
- Understanding why clients self-harm
- Trauma’s impact on the brain and memory
- The meta-communication of self-mutilation, addiction and eating disordered behaviors
- Incorporating a strengths-based, de-pathologized approach to self- harm
- Understanding the cycle of self-harm and the ways in which triggering, dissociation, and anxiety influence the process
- Creatively treating self-harm through “intervention sites” designed to reduce and eventually extinguish the behaviors
- Working with CARESS as an alternative to standard safety contracts
- Using art, movement, visualization and guided imagery techniques to enhance safety, containment and grounding for traumatized clients
- Processing clinical pitfalls, counter-transferential reponses and the need for self-care when working with this population