For Counsellors and Therapists

The following training offerings range from 1 to 3 days in length or can be adapted based on your particular needs. Showcasing a combination of interactive lecture-style delivery, anecdotal and case examples, demos, and opportunity for large group and pairs/triad practice, these workshops offer an engaging, hands-on approach to learning that recognize workers’ existing skills and experiences.

Trauma-Specific Competencies: Introductory Workshop for Aspiring Trauma Therapists

This comprehensive workshop fosters personal development in therapists, clinicians, supervisors and managers supporting trauma-affected clients. The workshop provides an overview for professionals wishing to learn more about the field of trauma therapy and will include:

  • An overview of trauma assessment skills, frameworks and tools / instruments
  • Core competencies and skills of trauma therapists drawing from the literature of trauma-informed care, staged models of trauma treatment, and therapeutic presence
  • A review of evidence-based and evidence-informed trauma therapy approaches
  • Opportunity to explore tools and skills for therapeutic presence and self-regulation

Participants will be introduced to cutting edge trauma therapies integrating brain neuroscience, psychophysiology, attachment, emotions, cognition and relationships, as well as learn about the caveats and limitations of using strictly cognitive and exposure-basd models with traumatized clients. Including a combination of lecture-style material, case examples, discussion, pairs practice and experiential learning, this workshop will also provide participants with additional information and reading materials to review in support of the next steps in their clinical development, along with where to obtain further training.

Integrative Trauma Treatment: Somatics, Attachment and Neuroscience Approaches

A more in-depth review of trauma therapy approaches will be provided, that incorporate varying degrees of attachment and neuroscience when working with individuals and couples. A review of psychophysiology, polyvagal theory, and procedural memory will be provided as context for the rationale of integrating bottom-up approaches with more traditional top-down therapy. Students will learn about the following therapies as additional modalities to round out their toolkits and where to obtain further training:

  • Somatic Experiencing
  • Sensorimotor Psychotherapy
  • Emotion-Focused Couples Therapy
  • Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy
  • EMDR and Brainspotting
  • Attachment-based therapy models
  • Touch work
  • Equine-facilitated therapy

Therapeutic Presence Techniques for Clinicians: Fostering Safety, Security and Attunement

Drawing from somatics, attachment theory, polyvagal theory and interpersonal neurobiology, this workshop will explore how clinicians and frontline workers can develop therapeutic presence in order to facilitate clients’ sense of safety, trust, and feeling “met” in relationship. Drawing on gentle experiential practices to foster internal awareness and self-regulation, the workshop will introduce the importance of helpers’ attunement and self-regulation in providing a safe haven, secure base and co-regulation for clients with trauma. In particular, exercises will emphasize:

  • Multi-level awareness: the ability to track what is happening internally for the helper, as well as the client and the nuances of what is happening between the two
  • Recognizing signs of presence and non-presence in helpers and clients
  • The qualities, attitudes, actions and felt sense associated with therapeutic presence
  • Ways of understanding and working with activation or discomfort around eye contact and proximity
  • Practical tools for preparing for presence before, during and after sessions
  • Suggested additional resources for further learning and exploration

Trauma-Informed Mindfulness and Yoga for Clients

Mindfulness, yoga and other contemplative practices are being sought out more frequently by individuals facing a number of personal struggles, trauma in particular. Yet, these practices can be challenging or even re-triggering for many trauma survivors, resulting in flooding on the one end of the extreme, to avoidance via spiritual bypassing on the other. This introduction will:

  • Review some of the pitfalls and challenges to be aware of
  • Concrete tools drawn from trauma and attachment neuroscience to adapt mindfulness practices
  • An understanding of breath physiology and adapted breathing practices that are safer for trauma survivors
  • How to make sense of different yoga styles in order to help trauma clients select a class that may be a better fit for them.

For more in-depth information about trainings on the topic of Trauma-Informed Mindfulness and Trauma-Informed Yoga, please visit www.traumainformedyoga.ca

Empowered Boundaries: Somatic Exercises for Assertiveness and Personal Agency

Many clients with trauma struggle to engage their fight response in an effective way. For some, anger is hyper-aroused, as seen in clients who are highly reactive, combative and struggle with violence and rage. For others, anger is hypo-aroused, such as in clients who respond passively, have difficulty setting boundaries, or show evidence of shame, fear, dissociation, chronic frustration or collapsed defeat when standing up for themselves or stepping up in the world. Drawing from trauma neuroscience, psychophysiology, and polyvagal theory, this hands-on workshop will introduce participants to clinically relevant principles and experiential practices to support clients to connect with their inner life force and sense of triumph. Participants will leave with a better understanding of:

  • The importance of understanding procedural / body memory when treating trauma
  • The cycle of activation of defense responses and the role of thwarted self-protective efforts in lack of boundaries or anger issues
  • The principles of titration and embodied containment when working with survival energies and impulses
  • Practices to safely explore self-protective movements and build capacity to mobilize a more empowered sense of oneself

Incremental strategies ranging from awareness of physiological aversion responses (the subtle signs the body says “no” that are often overridden or dismissed) to more active boundary exercises will be presented, along with cautions and contraindications to prevent overwhelm and support awareness of one’s window of tolerance.

An Integrative Approach to Working with Shame

Shame is a cornerstone of trauma, and one of the more complex pieces to work with both with clients and in ourselves. Drawing from trauma psychophysiology, polyvagal theory, attachment theory, and from practices inspired by Somatic Experiencing, Gestalt therapy, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, psychodrama, parts work, and self-compassion, this workshop will cover:

  • Psychoeducation around the purpose and role of shame as a self-protective response (linked with freeze / shutdown)
  • Ways of recognizing shame in its various guises, in terms of somatic responses in the body, postures, thoughts, beliefs, emotions and reactions
  • Understanding the ways we defend against shame and internalize shame
  • Differentiating between healthy shame and toxic shame
  • Practical ways of working with shame in therapy
  • Additional resources for further learning

Working with Parts: Healing the Child(ren) Within

This workshop provides an introduction to understanding how trauma can result in varying degrees of dissociation and fragmentation of one’s inner experience. Drawing elements from different parts work models such as structural dissociation, transactional analysis, internal family systems, and others, the presentation will introduce:

  • Helpful frameworks through which to help clients conceptualize their inner experience
  • The roles of different parts or ego states
  • Tools to use in beginning to build relationship with the fragmented parts of one’s inner world to support greater integration, inner coherence, regulation and the capacity for self-soothing
  • Specific interactive, grounding, art, imagery, somatic, attachment-oriented, psychodynamic, journaling and self-compassion exercises
  • Resources for further learning

The Ethical Use of Touch in Trauma Treatment

As mammals, we rely on the support of our caregivers and social network to grow and thrive. Attachment theory recognizes the importance of regulated and attuned adults in providing a source of safety, security, and soothing, so that our nervous systems can develop in healthy ways. This occurs largely through the quality of our presence, gaze, tone of voice, play, and touch. Indeed, our first sense of ourselves is primarily somatic, and occurs well before language develops. Not surprisingly, our earliest experiences of being soothed involved being held – we need co-regulation before self-regulation is possible. However, North America as a society is touch deprived compared to more collective cultures, and most professionals in the health, helping and educational professions are wary of using touch out of fear. The opposite is also true, with some professionals using touch unethically with vulnerable clients in ways that would constitute misconduct. Sadly, both avoiding and misusing touch are equally problematic. In this experiential workshop, participants will be introduced to:

  • The literature about the benefits and various roles of touch in psychotherapy
  • Consent and ethical principles surrounding touch
  • The differences between touch work and bodywork to respect scope of practice
  • Contraindications and cautions
  • The importance of therapist embodiment and self-regulation in regards to therapy, touch work and the therapeutic alliance
  • Basic practices drawn from the fields of trauma neuroscience, attachment and psychophysiology to enhance your work
  • Touch-based therapy approaches and where to obtain further training
  • Additional resources for further learning

Reading body language, adaptations for clients who are fearful of or averse to touch, and principles to work with touch in a titrated and boundaried way that supports choice, voice and empowerment will be explored.

The Healing Power of Nature: An Introduction to Animal, Equine and Nature-Based Therapy Approaches

More and more people are returning to nature to heal from their experiences and move forward in new and inspiring ways. This presentation will provide a review of the history of these approaches, the rationale and benefits as to why animals have much to teach us, and outline how taking therapy outdoors via structured interactions can foster learning and growth at an experiential level conducive to lasting change. The differences between animal/equine-assisted activities and therapy will be covered, as will ethical considerations and case examples. A summary of the most common modalities and certifications in this richly varied field will also be provided, with a particular emphasis on trauma-focused approaches involving horses and healing and where to obtain further training.

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