Dissociation 101: A Comprehensive Overview for Students and Professionals New to the Field

For many who first enter the field of dissociation and trauma, there is often not a great deal of information that describes the theoretical foundations and history of the dissociative field. This workshop is intended for students, emerging professionals and experienced practitioners who are interested in learning about the fundamentals of dissociation as a distinct response to trauma. The premise of this workshop is to cover essential information regarding dissociation and the dissociative disorders field.

This workshop will cover:

  • Theories of trauma and dissociation
  • The history of the dissociative field, including theories and treatment recommendations from the 1800's, through to the eighties, nineties and today
  • The impact of the false memory "war"
  • Finer details of current dissociative models (covering various theoretical foundations, e.g. Structural dissociation, dissociative symptoms/phenomena (the DSM), dissociative defenses
  • Rate and prevalence
  • Breakdown of the dissociative disorders
  • Neurobiology of trauma and dissociation
  • Assessment and evaluation
  • Current treatments

The goal of the workshop is to equip those who attend with enough information to take into their scholarly or new professional practices as well as have a solid foundation for the rest of the conference.This workshop is designed to demystify dissociation and provide participants with a broad based understanding of it as a response to overwhelming stress. 

This workshop will cover: 

  • What is dissociation: Common theories 
  • How common is dissociation: Rate and Prevalence 
  • The history of dissociation and the ISSTD: The story that has taken 150 years to emerge 
  • Neurobiology of dissociation: The field of trauma and dissociation is expanding daily 
  • All of the Dissociative Disorders: Breaking down the DSM 
  • Treatments for Dissociative Disorders: Common and not so common 

Timed Outline
90 Minutes - Aetiology of dissociation and the dissociative disorders
90 Minutes - Diagnosis of Dissociative disorders
90 Minutes - Models of Dissociation
90 Minutes - Treatment of Dissociative Disorders

This session was originally presented as a live conference session in April 2021.

Target Audience


Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of this session participants will be able to:

  • Discuss the importance of a solid theoretical foundation regarding dissociative experiences
  • Explain the importance of understanding the historical background of the dissociative field in working with this population in the greater mental health field
  • Determine whether a client is dealing with Faculty Dissociation (un-integrated psychological symptoms) or Multiplicity (more than one center of consciousness), or a combination of both and in turn evaluate their own skills and know whether it is ethical to work with the client or refer them elsewhere
  • Discuss neurobiological information to assist with their clinical and educational experiences
  • Distinguish between complex trauma, post-traumatic stress disorders, and dissociative disorders
Course summary
Available credit: 
  • 6.00 ISSTD Certificate Program
    This program is eligible for 6.00 credits in the ISSTD Certificate Program.
Course opens: 
Course expires: 
ISSTD Member cost:
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Presenter: Christine C. Forner, BSW, MSW, SP
Presenter Bio: Christine has over thirty years’ experience working with individuals with Trauma, Post Traumatic Stress Disorders, Traumatic Dissociation, Developmental Trauma, and Dissociative Disorders. She has specialized training in EMDR, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Psychotherapeutic Meditation techniques, and Neurofeedback. She began her career on a crisis line for teens and subsequently on the front lines working at local sexual assault centers, long-term therapeutic settings, and shelters for domestic violence survivors. Since 2011, Christine has worked in private practice, specializing in complex trauma and dissociative disorders. Christine teaches locally and at an international level on dissociation, complex trauma, and the intersection of dissociation and mindfulness. She was the President of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation, served on the board of the ISSTD since 2010, and was the ISSTD treasurer from 2011-2017. Christine is the author of Dissociation, Mindfulness, and Creative Meditations: Trauma-informed practices to facilitate growth (Routledge, 2017). As well as avidly working with those who have been hurt the most, Christine has dedicated her professional life to educating others on the logic, normality, and commonality of dissociation. The summation of her work is to educate practitioners about the vital importance of their presence, patience, and care with those who have been through the most severe and brutal injuries so that they receive treatment with dignity and compassion. The four qualities of presence, patience, dignity, and compassion applied to every aspect of the therapeutic process can result in profound inner healing; something every human deserves to experience.

Presenter: Mary-Anne Kate, PhD
Presenter Bio: Dr Mary-Anne Kate is a researcher specialising in interpersonal trauma, attachment, and post-traumatic disorders. She is a Scientific Committee member of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD), where she also teaches the introductory course on dissociation. Mary-Anne has written textbook chapters and articles on post-traumatic disorders, including dissociative disorders, Complex PTSD, Borderline Personality Disorder, and somatic disorders. In 2018 she was awarded the Chancellor's Doctoral Research Medal from UNE and in 2019 the David Caul Award from the ISSTD for her PhD on childhood maltreatment, parent-child dynamics, and dissociation. In 2021 Mary-Anne won the Morton Prince award for Scientific Research. Mary-Anne also has over a decade's experience as a policy analyst and program manager (Canberra-Cairo-Brussels) improving quality of life outcomes, including mental health, for vulnerable client groups such as migrants, refugees, and other minorities. Mary-Anne has been teaching on the Mental Health Masters at SCU since 2019, and holds an adjunct research position at UNE.

Available Credit

  • 6.00 ISSTD Certificate Program
    This program is eligible for 6.00 credits in the ISSTD Certificate Program.


ISSTD Member cost:
Your Price:
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"Your Price" above reflects your final price based on your membership status and career level. 

  • ISSTD defines a student as those enrolled in a program of study leading to a degree or certification in the mental health field and who have an interest in trauma and dissociation. 
  • ISSTD defines an emerging professional as mental health professionals who have completed an advanced degree and are in the first three years of their career (or first three years after graduation for researchers).
  • If you do not fall into one of the above categories please register as Professional/Retired. 

These prices are for Tier I countries. For a list of countries by Tier click here. If you are located in a country that falls into Tier II-VI please contact ISSTD at cfas@isst-d.org to receive the appropriate discount code.