What’s going on when your best efforts to establish a secure therapeutic alliance with a personality-disordered client aren’t working? Before you proclaim a “bad fit” and refer them out, consider changing your approach. Learn why personality disorders may not be disorders at all, but creative ways of coping with painful attachment trauma. Understanding this often-ignored factor can help you more easily develop rapport with challenging clients, avoid frustration, and increase positive outcomes. You’ll discover how to:
- Navigate the emotional defenses of clients with different attachment styles—avoidant, anxious, disorganized—when they suddenly retreat, become enraged, or even seem frightened of you
- Match personality disorder traits with the way trauma shapes the brain to develop effective strategies for treatment
- Balance your availability and responsiveness with relational boundaries in ways that won’t jeopardize the therapeutic alliance
- Foster secure attachment skills with experiential interventions, and recover from therapeutic missteps when your defenses get triggered
Courtney Armstrong, LPC, trains professionals in creative therapy techniques and is the author of Rethinking Trauma Treatment: Attachment, Memory Reconsolidation, and Resilience and The Therapeutic “Aha!”: 10 Strategies for Getting Your Clients Unstuck.