Mentalizing, Mindfulness, and the Body in Chronic Traumatization

Mentalizing is the process by which we make sense of the contents of our own minds and that of others. Requiring an optimal level of arousal as well as a nurturing and safe attachment relationship to develop, mentalizing is conspicuously impaired and even frightening for patients who have suffered attachment trauma. Mentalizing requires the capacity to be present, to accurately read relational cues, and to be mindful and tolerant of one’s own inner experiences. Trauma patients are not flexible in their ability to accurately “read” people’s intentions, emotions, and behaviors, but rather are fixed in rigid patterns of prediction about danger, rejection, and lack of caring. Such individuals typically experience a variety of symptoms that they do not understand and are susceptible to dysregulated arousal because they are unaware of internal and environmental triggers that evoke hyper or hypo arousal. Their inner “world” is frightening, overwhelming, and baffling, because they have not personified their own minds. The process of mentalizing often occurs automatically, without thought or deliberation, and is influenced by many factors, including the capacity to observe one’s own mental actions, as well as posture, sensation, and movement of the body. In this webinar we will define mentalizing, describe the difference between explicit and implicit mentalizing, and explore how to address failures in mentalizing in traumatized populations. The presenters will explore therapeutic approaches to increase mentalizing skills, including the body’s role in mentalizing, and will demonstrate both verbal and non-verbal, somatic interventions useful in improving patients’ mentalizing ability. They will also provide a clinical map of “directed mindfulness” that orients attention and enhances reflective functioning.

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Course summary
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  • 1.50 ISSTD Certificate Program
    This program is eligible for 1.50 credits in the ISSTD Certificate Program.
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Presenter: Pat Ogden, PhD
Presenter Bio: Pat Ogden, PhD,is a pioneer in somatic psychology, the creator of the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy method, and founder of the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute.Dr. Ogden is trained in a wide variety of somatic and psychotherapeutic approaches, and has over 45 years of experience working with individuals and groups. She is co-founder of the Hakomi Institute, past faculty of Naropa University (1985-2005), a clinician, consultant, and sought after international lecturer. Dr. Ogden is the first author of two groundbreaking books in somatic psychology: Trauma and the Body: A Sensorimotor Approach to PsychotherapyandSensorimotor Psychotherapy: Interventions for Trauma and Attachment (2015) both published in the Interpersonal Neurobiology Series of W. W. Norton.Her third book in this series, The Pocket Guide to Sensorimotor Psychotherapy: Essays and Articles, will be published in 2020, and she is working on Sensorimotor Psychotherapy for Children, Adolescents and Familiesand Sensorimotor Psychotherapy for Groups with Dr. Bonnie Goldstein.Her current interests include groups, couples, children, adolescents, and families; complex trauma; Embedded Relational Mindfulness; implicit bias, intersectionality and culture; the relational nature of shame; presence, consciousness, and the philosophical/spiritual principles that underlie Sensorimotor Psychotherapy.

Presenter: Kathy Steele, MN, CS
Presenter Bio: Kathy Steele, MN, CS has been in private practice in Atlanta, Georgia since 1985, and is an Adjunct Faculty at Emory University. Kathy is a Fellow and a past President of the ISSTD, and is the recipient of a number of awards for her clinical and published works, including the 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award from ISSTD. She has authored numerous publications in the field of trauma and dissociation, including three books, and frequently lectures internationally on topics related to trauma, dissociation, attachment, and therapeutic resistance and impasses.

Available Credit

  • 1.50 ISSTD Certificate Program
    This program is eligible for 1.50 credits in the ISSTD Certificate Program.


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