How to manage power, boundary and attachment dynamics when working with survivors of complex trauma
When working with survivors of complex trauma such as childhood sexual abuse, physical abuse, domestic abuse and spiritual abuse practitioners need to ensure that they do not replicate abuse dynamics in the therapeutic process and to minimise re-traumatisation. The systematic and repeated misuse of power and control that underpins abuse and complex trauma such as the use of threat, terror, silence, secrecy, shame and the distortion of reality dehumanises survivors and renders them voiceless.
These dynamics are often re-enacted in the therapeutic relationship by both survivor and practitioner including behaviours to assert power and control, appeasement behaviours such as compliance and submission, boundary violations and oscillation between connection and disconnection. This training day aims to identify the ways in which these manifest in therapeutic space and how they can be managed to facilitate a more collaborative, non-hierarchical and relational approach in which survivors can truly heal rather than being catapulted back into trauma dynamics.
To this effect the importance of ‘being with’ rather than ‘doing to’ will be emphasised alongside ways in which to minimise re-shaming or re-traumatising survivors to offer a genuine human relationship in which to recover and heal.
Specifically we will consider:
- The use of power and control in complex trauma and its dehumanising impact.
- The role of silence, secrecy, boundary violations and the distortion of reality.
- The impact of complex trauma on attachment and relational difficulties, including the trauma bond and how this can manifest in the therapeutic relationship.
- Therapist’s own need for power and control and relational style.
- How to manage power and control dynamics in the therapeutic relationship.
- How to facilitate a more collaborative, non-hierarchical and relationship approach through ‘being with’ rather than ‘doing to’.
Christiane Sanderson is a senior lecturer in Psychology at the University of Roehampton. With 28 years’ experience working in child sexual abuse interpersonal trauma and domestic abuse.