Childhood abuse necessitates self-alienation: we must disown that humiliating “bad child” and work harder to be the “good child” acceptable to our attachment figures. In the end, children survive trauma at the cost of disowning and dissociating from their most wounded selves. While longing to feel safe and welcome, they later find themselves in conflict: alternating between clinging to others and pushing them away, hating themselves or hating others, yearning to be seen while trying to be invisible. Years later, these clients present in therapy with symptoms of anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, diagnoses of bipolar and borderline personality disorder, and a distorted sense of identity.
This workshop offers a practical hands-on approach to traumatized clients with underlying issues of self-alienation and self-hatred by helping them see how the trauma has left them fragmented and at war within their own minds and bodies. Participants will learn how to help their clients observe the parts they have embraced and identified with as ‘me’ but also the trauma-related parts they have disowned and judged harshly. Using interventions drawn from a number of therapeutic approaches (including Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Internal Family Systems, and ego state therapy), the focus is on helping clients observe and accept all aspects of self with interest and curiosity. As their young parts are identified and understood as ‘heroes’ in the individual’s story of survival, clients are able to feel more warmly toward them, often for the first time. Techniques will be demonstrated that increase the capacity to feel for and with each part, that foster the sense of caring for young wounded selves, and that pave the way for growing “earned secure attachment.” Even when our clients are unable to tolerate emotion, extend themselves compassion, or take in someone else’s caring, they can still learn to feel protective of their younger selves and to finally welcome home these ‘lost souls’ with warmth and compassion.
Trauma and self-alienation
The costs and benefits of disowning one’s traumatized child self as a survival strategy.
Introduction to Structural Dissociation model as a trauma-related explanatory model for understanding chronic chaos, resistance, and self-destructive behavior.
Befriending our disowned selves
Using mindfulness-based techniques drawn from Internal Family Systems and Sensorimotor Psychotherapy to build client interest and curiosity in their split-off emotions, vulnerability, and self-destructive behavior.
Increasing self-compassion by cultivating compassion for younger parts of the individual
Learning to appreciate each part’s contribution, to ask, “How did this part help me to survive? Without it, what would have happened?”
Transforming traumatic memory
By teaching clients how to connect emotionally to their wounded child selves and provide reparative or “missing” experiences.
Building internal self-attachment
How to help clients “earn” secure attachment as the therapeutic outcome of creating internal acceptance, safety, and welcome for each wounded part of the self.
What Alumni are Saying...
"Janina was incredibly knowledgeable and created a comfortable and safe learning environment." - 2022 Participant
"Janina is a wonderful teacher. She provides the information in a concise, explanatory, and clear way. Her kindness and warmth always adds so much to the experience." - 2022 Participant
"Janina Fisher is wonderful, compassionate, knowledgeable, caring and presents material in a clear, effective manner. I hope to see her again in the future." - 2022 Participant
Learn more about the Cape Cod Institute from former participants
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