Working with Dissociative Clients

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Organised by:

Tavistock Relationships

14 June 2024

Time: 10:00 - 13:00

Price: £90.00 (£76.50 Trainee/NHS)

Location: online


Working with Dissociative Clients: Clinical Insights from Valerie Sinason

Working with dissociation is complex, and an area that requires a trauma-informed approach. In this comprehensive live webinar, Valeria Sinason will help us to grapple with difficult but fundamental questions including ‘what is trauma in the first place?’, ‘how do we respond to it?’ and ‘why do we dissociate?’ to increase confidence in working with dissociative, traumatised states therapeutically.

In many cases, dissociation can be a natural response to help us navigate the stresses of daily life, when it does not feel safe to be fully present. For example, we might ‘zone out’ when we are bombarded with devastating news stories on social media. Or we might ‘compartmentalise’ when we are faced with the disappointment of a rejection. But dissociation is also a response to trauma, neglect and abuse, which may often start in childhood and results in neurological changes in the brain. In many cases, it can take on more severe forms, such as depersonalisation and derealisation. In cases of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), people can experience fragmented ego states. Research demonstrates a person’s attachment patterns can impact the severity of the dissociative states they experience.

Overall, we can think of dissociative states as a set of related mental phenomena. Understanding the mechanisms of those affected by major states of dissociation, such as DID, can inform us about less severe states of dissociation, and vice versa. While dissociation is an adaptation to protect us in traumatic circumstances, it becomes problematic when it continues to be used after the experience of ‘trauma’ has ended, and a person becomes stuck in a dissociative state.

So how do we build therapeutic relationships that can empower clients to revisit their unbearable experiences in a way that is tolerable, and help them to exist more in the ‘present’, without risk of re-experiencing trauma or re-entering severe dissociative states? Valerie will share her wealth of experience and expertise in traumatology, including case examples, to provide strategies and ideas for working with dissociation effectively and compassionately in practice. There will be time for questions and discussion after each session.

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