2012 Relational CAR
Summer 2013 (specific dates TBA)
There are a handful of different exposure therapies for the treatment of trauma, each with its advantages and disadvantages—EMDR, Somatic Experiencing, Containment and Autonomic Resolution, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Hypnotherapy, EFT, and experiential therapies such as Gestalt. None offer a comprehensive training in working with traumatic transference. The Love and Trauma Center is meeting this need with a training specifically designed to work with the powerful transferential and counter-tranferential dynamics that are essential to the healing of trauma.
Continue reading for a more detailed description of the role transference plays in the trauma process or view this 12 minute lecture on the topic.
Why is transference an important aspect of trauma therapy?
Psychiatrist and author of Trauma and Recovery, Judith Herman, suggests categorizing trauma in two distinct ways: PTSD and complex PTSD. The former can be characterized by single event, non-relational traumatic events. In a random car accident, for example, there is no inherent relationship between the person injured in the accident, the person driving the other car, the people who stood by unable to help, or the medics who were able to help. This situation may yield trauma but the relationships were not a significant part of the event. Contrast this with trauma that takes place within a family, perhaps repeatedly over years. The key players in this situation are intimately connected to one another: the person hurt, the person doing the hurting, the person who stood by and only observed (if there was one) and the person who helped (if there was one). In this situation, relationship and intimacy are very much interwoven with the trauma. In this case, the trauma is far more complex and intimate relationships for the adult survivor will be fraught with reactivity, projections and re-enactment patterns.
Almost all sophistication in working with transference and counter-transference has been limited to those who have gone through long, expensive psychoanalytic training. Clients can come to therapy with many different types of transference dynamics. Traumatic transference is a unique subset of general transference in its relative simplicity, although the dynamics are extremely powerful and much more charged than non-traumatic transference. Since traumatic transference can lead to explosive relational dynamics in therapy and the client’s personal life, it is critically important to work with it directly. It also means that as a therapist, you can master the ability to work with traumatic transference with much less training than would be necessary for full psychoanalytic mastery.
As therapists, we bring our own counter-transference, our own history of relationships and traumas to the therapeutic relationship. The more active our counter-transferential charge is in the room, the less fluid we are, the less capable we are of working skillfully with our clients. Commonly, therapists find certain counter-transferential roles attractive and others repulsive. For example, therapists that are uncomfortable with negative transference may have a difficult time allowing the client to view them as unhelpful, incompetent, or antagonistic, all of which may be necessary for relational healing to occur. If the therapist insists on not leaving the competent, loving, attuned parent role (the corrective experience the client never had), it will typically mean the negative transference roles which the client has integrated into their psyche migrate to other relationships in their life. In this case, the client’s close relationships actually become the vehicle for negative transference and subsequently become stressed and break down over time.
Students will learn to identify four distinct but interdependent traumatic transference patterns in themselves and their clients. Material presented will include lectures and exercises specific to working with each traumatic role and how to inhabit each role with a more fluid, neutral stance.