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Healing the Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivors: A Trauma-Informed Treatment Approach

January 14, 2023 @ 10:00 am - 1:00 pm

Janina Fisher, PhD

Self-rejection is a survival strategy that maintains children’s attachment to abusive attachment figures by disowning themselves as “bad” or “unlovable.” This deeply painful failure of self-acceptance is adaptive in an unsafe world but results in lifelong shame and self-loathing, difficulty self-soothing, identity confusion, and complications in relationships with others.

To overcome this alienation from self, the Fragmented Selves approach (Trauma-Informed Stabilization Treatment or TIST) focuses on cultivating mindful awareness of patients’ disowned selves and disowned experience. As individuals learn to relate to their overwhelming emotions and impulsive behavior as evidence of trauma-related self-states, they develop increased ability to observe rather than react and to tolerate distressing affects rather than acting out. Using strategies inspired by polyvagal theory, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy and Internal Family Systems, we will explore the therapeutic power of fostering earned secure attachment relationships to our patients’ most deeply disowned selves.