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Fear of Vulnerability: Working With Dissociation And Avoidance In Trauma Treatment with Dr. Janina Fisher

June 13 @ 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm

Child abusers exploit their victims’ vulnerability.  Without the power to escape or fight back, often attached to the perpetrator, children are helpless in an unsafe world.  They can’t cry or look frightened or voice any emotion for fear of punishment.  Their only defenses are submission and dissociation.  They instinctively go on with normal life because they have no choice other than to appear “fine.”

These automatic strategies are adaptive in a threatening unsafe environment, but they become obstacles in treatment.  Years later, when traumatized clients come for ‘help,’ their phobias of emotion and vulnerability pose a challenge for the client and therapist.  Thinking or talking about the events, emotions, and body sensations is overwhelming and frightening.  Even a little emotion, even acknowledging their hurt, can lead to shutting down or intellectualizing.  Therapists want to help clients process the memories and emotions, only to get blocked by the client’s phobia of feeling.

Successfully working with traumatized clients begins with facing the degree to which our interest in vulnerability stimulates fear.  The perpetrator was only interested in their vulnerability.  Therapists need to be interested in how clients survived and adapted, and how their dissociative abilities preserved their ability to go on with life.  Fortunately, modern trauma treatment affords us many ways to help survivors by capitalizing on their dissociative abilities as a therapeutic tool.

You will learn:

  • How dissociation facilitates survival-related “avoidance”
  • Differentiating intentional from instinctual avoidance?
  • Using dissociative abilities to heal traumatic wounds