Provides clinicians, counselors, and other helpers with insights on recognizing and dealing with the most difficult crises and turning points that occur in therapy with traumatized children and families. Each webinar features a scene where the youth and caregiver are actors playing fictional characters, but the therapists are real. Viewers will see how therapists handle critical turning points during the therapy session to help families safely heal from the severe emotional and interpersonal problems that occur in the aftermath of complex trauma: Developmental Trauma Disorder. This series is sponsored by the Center for the Treatment of Developmental Trauma Disorders.
In this webinar, viewers see critically important moments from three dramatized therapy sessions and hear from seasoned trauma therapists who reflect on their own experiences in working with clients of similar and different racial and ethnic backgrounds to their own. Through thoughtful discussion, participants explore the intersections of developmental trauma, clinical work and race/ethnicity. Webinar participants are encouraged to reflect on their own experiences in working across similar cultural backgrounds and will have the opportunity to share questions to further this important discussion.
In this webinar, participants will see critical moments from three dramatized therapy sessions and hear from seasoned trauma therapists reflecting on their experiences working with clients of different racial and ethnic backgrounds. Presenters will lead a thoughtful discussion exploring the intersections of developmental trauma, clinical work, and race. Webinar participants are encouraged to reflect on their experiences and will have the opportunity to ask questions to further the discussion.
In this webinar, a mother and her teenage daughter who have experienced severe family violence by an ex-husband/father in the past become embroiled in an intense verbal argument that escalates into sudden physical violence. Their therapist attempts to mediate the disagreement while not siding with either mother or daughter, and then must help the mother recover from shock and dissociation while simultaneously helping the daughter not run away and stay present in the room. Mother and daughter go through a complex series of emotional reactions (anger, fear, guilt, shame, grief) with the help of the therapist, and are able to make the shift from experiencing a flashback of violence to reconnecting with one another based on their core relationship.
Joshua’s mom abandoned him when he was a few days old. For the first three years of his life, Joshua lived with his maternal grandmother and her partner. When Joshua began preschool, his teachers had some concerns about his overall hygiene and care. A few months later, his teacher called DCF to report suspected abuse when he came to school with burns on both of his hands. DCF removed Joshua from his grandmother’s care due to neglect and physical abuse. Joshua went to live with his biological father for two years. At 6 years of age, Joshua’s father was incarcerated, forcing Joshua to be placed in a foster home. DCF arranged visits with his father on and off for a few years after his father’s release from prison. Joshua remained in the same foster home until the day he was arrested for attempted armed robbery at age 15​. In this session, the therapist was asked by DCF to work on strengthening the relationship between Joshua and his father to see if he could move in and live with his father’s family in the future. The therapist begins the session by welcoming the father and letting him know that she has been working with Joshua for a month now. The therapist goes over Joshua’s strengths and highlights how grateful Joshua is for the opportunity to reconnect with family.
Debbie is a 10 year old multiracial girl who lives with her 27 year old African American mother Sharon. Sharon has struggled for years with substance abuse. The family lived for several years in a shared space which was quite chaotic. During this time, Debbie often would be with other children in the building for many hours at a time without adult supervision. Many adults would come in and out of the building, and Debbie often did not see her mother, sometimes, for days.
Eleven-year-old Clara is in her third treatment session, sharing about the first sexual abuse she experienced. Clara’s growing discomfort is evident as she describes her mother’s former live-in boyfriend, Michael, and how the abuse progressed. Clara becomes overtly distressed and leaps onto the therapist, embracing him. The therapist gently reestablishes physical boundaries and facilitates her diaphragmatic breathing. The scenario illustrates the complexity of the therapeutic relationship and the balance therapists must achieve for effectively supporting traumatized patients while also maintaining healthy boundaries.
Maya, a 9-year-old girl, was referred for therapy due to numerous instances of domestic violence by her father toward her mother (some of which she witnessed), physical abuse by her father, and possible sexual abuse with no specific disclosures. Both parents have extensive histories of substance abuse, including opioid and amphetamine use. Maya’s father is currently incarcerated for drug and violence-related crimes. Her mother was unable to consistently take care of Maya for the past few years due to substance abuse issues so Maya was removed from her care. Maya has two failed foster home placements due to significant aggressive and sexualized behavior. She is currently residing in a stable foster home and has begun to have monitored visits with her biological mother who was recently discharged from a drug rehabilitation program. Maya has attended therapy with this therapist for only a short time and recently, has begun to demonstrate more trauma-related play. This session illustrates how dysregulation and trauma processing can be exhibited in play, sometimes with significant distress for the child with developmental trauma. The critical dilemma involves to what extent the therapist helps a highly traumatized child to manage her distress versus engage in trauma processing.
Adam a 15-year-old Caucasian male, grew up in the suburbs outside of Chicago with his mother, father, and two sisters. His family is pretty well off financially and he and his siblings all attend private school, have personal tutors, and enjoy horseback riding and soccer. For years, Adam was excelling in school and was a star soccer athlete. Unbeknownst to his parents, Adam was sexually assaulted a year ago by his female tutor Amber, who was 19 at the time. Following the assault, Adam began to struggle in school and behaving in uncharacteristic ways. His pediatrician referred him to a therapist, with whom he eventually entrusted the information about being assaulted. About one year later, Adam reported to his therapist that he was hearing voices telling him to kill himself. Over several weeks Adam became increasingly anxious and sad and began to experience auditory hallucinations telling him to either hang himself or jump out a window. On one occasion went to the roof of a building and looked down thinking he might jump. He told his therapist who arranged a psychiatric hospitalization.
This webinar depicts a moment when Rose initially directs her feeling of being victimized toward her therapist. Rose expresses that therapist’s contact with her mother and school has increased the stigma and vulnerability she feels, and her sense that she’s not getting the support she needs. Rose sees the therapist as responsible for greater distress for both herself and her mother. This is a critical turning point in treatment, which illustrates the complexity of developmental trauma and raises questions as to whether the therapeutic relationship can be repaired. The therapist attempts to balance concerns of trust and safety in the context of Rose’s culture and the impact of developmental trauma across generations.
Jordyn, age 16, lives with her mother, father, and two younger siblings and has been exposed to domestic violence and parental substance use, as well as prolonged periods of separation while her father was deployed in Afghanistan. While her dad started treatment four months ago for PTSD and substance use and is beginning to make some progress, Jordyn started treatment just two weeks ago to address irritability, depression, trouble falling asleep, and nightmares. Worried her family may lose their home, Jordyn got a job; now she is failing classes and feeling totally overwhelmed. Early in treatment, the therapist assesses Jordyn’s safety and her heightened level of distress. As Jordyn becomes angry the therapist attempts to re-engage her by identifying supportive people in her life, and Jordyn accidentally reveals possible exploitation by her older boyfriend. The therapist attempts gather the details she needs for the authorities while supporting Jordyn and trying to keep her safe.
In this webinar, trauma experts will debate and explore the pros and cons of adopting a formal Developmental Trauma Disorder (DTD) diagnosis. Polyvictimized youth develop a broad spectrum of psychopathologies, with a number of complex comorbidities which can present unique diagnostic and treatment challenges. The importance and relevance of including both DTD and PTSD diagnoses into existing diagnostic systems, along with key considerations, will be discussed.
Presents, through dramatized therapy sessions, traumatized youth who are profoundly emotionally shut down or dissociative and how therapists can remain attuned to clients while managing their own affect. When children shut down or dissociate they may seem unreachable or impossible to engage; yet through therapy those traumatized children can learn to understand and recover from their post-traumatic reactions. Experienced trauma therapists discuss their reactions to these critical moments of disconnection and impasse in trauma therapy, the questions and dilemmas this raises for them, and ways they have found to engage with detached or dissociated clients while handling their secondary traumatic stress reactions.
Moments of crisis (as seen in dramatized therapy sessions) will be viewed and discussed with a focus on how therapists can handle the challenge of remaining attuned to intensely distressed clients while also recognizing and regulating their own stress reactions. When children or adult caregivers experience peaks of hyperarousal – as expressed in many varied forms including anger, terror, and dissociation – the therapist must maintain a dual focus of attunement with the client(s) and themselves. Experienced trauma therapists discuss their own stress reactions, the questions and dilemmas these reactions raise for them, and helpful strategies for remaining fully and effectively present with their clients.
Michael (12-years old) and Trisha (16-years-old) live with their mother Monica in a single-parent household. Five years ago, their father Neil was incarcerated after violently attacking and nearly killing Monica while the children were upstairs in their bedrooms. Michael and Trisha seem resilient, doing well emotionally, in school, and with peers, but Monica developed panic attacks and nightmares. Monica began therapy with Dr. Taylor two years ago, and her PTSD symptoms had largely resolved until she learned a couple of weeks ago that her ex-husband was going to get released from prison within the next month. Monica and Dr. Taylor jointly decided it would be helpful for the children to learn of their father’s imminent release in a family session with Dr. Taylor, the children’s first meeting with Dr. Taylor.
Samantha is a 15-year-old African American girl who lives in public housing in an urban area rife with violence and drug use. Samantha is an outstanding student and attends private school on scholarship, where her friends describe her as beautiful, popular, brilliant, and a star athlete. At age 10, Samantha saw her brother murdered when he was walking her home from school. Their mother became hysterical and chronically depressed, and their father changed from a loving dad to drinking and screaming at the family. Samantha was sexually assaulted by her boyfriend’s male friends at a party at which she, usually a non-drinker, became intoxicated and passed out. Samantha has no memory of the assault and was referred to a female therapist, Dr. Sofia Mattei, by a sexual assault counselor who met with her at the hospital. This webinar presents Samantha’s first therapy session with Dr. Mattei.
Adam a 15-year-old, is referred to therapy after several weeks of unexplained sickness. Adam has always excelled in school despite having been sexually abused by his soccer coach in his past. About a year ago, Adam’s grades and sports performance started to slip when an adult female tutor became sexually abusive and threatened him if he reported her. Adam was already seeing a therapist to work on recent difficulties in school and conflicts with his parents. As he attempts to end therapy, he reveals for the first time that he is experiencing current sexual abuse.
A client reveals during her first therapy session that she discovered her adoptive mother hid letters from her biological mother. In her past, she was placed in several foster care homes after incidents of physical and sexual abuse and family violence related to drug use by her mother and male partners. Though she was adopted two years ago, finding these hidden letters has escalated her feelings of distrust and not being accepted as a full member of her adoptive family. 
Focuses on a family that is required to seek therapy after the parents get in a physical altercation while intoxicated. During a family therapy session with their teenage children, a father learns from his wife that she is questioning her gender identity. This discovery challenges the co-therapy team to balance the needs of each family member during the heated confrontation that follows. The team must find a way to keep the family emotionally safe as the father—feeling betrayed and confused—reacts in anger.
Depicts a father who has been physically violent in the past becoming intensely verbally angry, frightening and emotionally alienating his son. The therapist has to find a way to help the father feel supported, so he can engage his son with the love and appreciation which his son needs from him. With this caring and role modeling, the son can heal and move forward in his own life.