Childhood abuse necessitates self-alienation: we must disown that humiliating “bad child” and work harder to be the “good child” acceptable to our attachment figures. In the end, we survive trauma at the cost of disowning and dissociating from our most wounded selves. While longing to be feel safe and welcome, traumatized individuals find themselves in conflict: alternating between clinging to others and pushing them away, hating themselves or hating others, yearning to be seen while trying to be invisible. Years later, these clients present in therapy with symptoms of anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, diagnoses of bipolar and borderline personality disorder, and a distorted or absent sense of identity.
This workshop offers a practical hand’s on approach to traumatized clients with underlying issues of self-alienation and self-hatred by helping them to recognize how the trauma has left them fragmented and at war within their own minds and bodies. Participants will learn how to help their clients observe the parts they have embraced and identified with as ‘me’ and the trauma-related parts they have disowned and judged harshly. Using interventions drawn from a number of therapeutic approaches (including Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Internal Family Systems, and ego state therapy), the focus is on helping clients observe and accept all aspects of self with interest and curiosity. As their young parts are identified and understood as ‘heroes’ in the individual’s story of survival, clients are able to feel more warmly toward them, often for the first time. Techniques will be demonstrated that increase the capacity to feel for and with each part, that foster the sense of caring for young wounded selves, and that pave the way for growing “earned secure attachment.” Even when our clients are unable to tolerate emotion, extend themselves compassion, or take in someone else’s caring, they can still learn to feel protective of their younger selves and even learn to welcome home their ‘lost souls’ with warmth and compassion.