119 – The Challenge of Treating Complex PTSD

What to Do When Things Get Messy and Uncomfortable
Mary Jo Barrett & Linda Stone Fish

When working with trauma cases do you see clients go into flight, fight, and/or freeze? Do they yell at you, insult you, or leave the session? Are there times you find yourself getting angry at your clients? Do you recognize your own flight, fight, and/or freeze response? Welcome to the messy, often confusing world of trauma treatment. In this workshop, you’ll explore practical in-session techniques as well as a framework to help you recognize what’s happening when things heat up and get intense. You’ll discover how to:

  • Assess the client’s motivation, stage of change, and preferred mode of learning
  • Effectively build a therapeutic collaboration around each client’s individual needs
  • Understand the importance of therapist transparency and empower clients by making the therapy process as safe and explicit as possible
  • Explore intrafamily violence and include additional family members in your sessions


Mary Jo Barrett, MSW, is the founder and director of the Center for Contextual Change and the coauthor of Treating Complex Trauma: A Relational Blueprint for Collaboration and Change and The Systemic Treatment of Incest.

Linda Stone Fish, MSW, PhD, the David B. Falk Endowed Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy at Syracuse University, is the author of Nurturing Queer Youth.

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