Perception Is Reality: Helping Systems View Childhood Dissociation Through a Complex Lens

Abstract
Working with dissociative children is both challenging and rewarding. Seeing positive transformation occur when dissociative barriers erode and clients “awaken” to seeing the world through a clearer, more holistic lens is a joy of our work as therapeutic helpers. However, for that to occur, interconnecting child serving systems must support the healing process. Regrettably, the systems children depend on for developmental and recovery support, such as child protection, family courts, education, mental and physical health, and juvenile justice, are often compromised by their misguided and distorted perceptions of these children. These malformed systems’ lenses can hinder clients’ recovery from unimaginable trauma, or worse, can add “system” trauma and cause unintended further damage when dissociative symptoms are discounted.

As wise persons have stated, “It takes a village to raise a child.” A modified adage for dissociative children might be, “It takes an integrated systematic approach to raise a child with complex trauma to health and wellness.” It’s a challenging task to counteract typically well-meaning professionals’ erroneous “perceptions that are their realities” about childhood dissociation, particularly regarding children with high rates of disruptive behavior and emotional dysregulation, self-destructive behavior, and perpetrator self-states. Children who are unresponsive to treatment in which dissociation is ignored and untreated, are often misperceived as resistant, and are stigmatized as “bad” and untreatable.

However, such lenses of misperception often reflect professionals’ fears, biases, false or missing information about dissociation and its neurobiological research, turf issues, or simply resistance to new ideas. It is, indeed, very challenging to embrace the complexity of trauma in which dissociation plays a critical role in a traumatized child’s life. A new lens is needed and often requires a paradigm shift for individuals and systems.

This workshop, designed for clinicians who serve children, confronts the reality and complexity of system dynamics that create additional treatment challenges and interfere with effective treatment of dissociative children. Strategies to gain the cooperation of disbelieving, sometimes punitive professionals to participate in a unified, specialized dissociative treatment plan will be described. Clinical examples of dissociative youth with the types of disturbing behaviors that often create system dysfunction will be emphasized. Creative strategies will be offered to help professionals develop empathic attitudes toward complex youth and those who care for them, and to change their lens toward a respectful, collaborative, and coordinated team approach.

This session was originally presented as a live conference session in April 2023.

Target Audience

Intermediate

Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of this session participants will be able to:
  • Identify dynamics related to dissociative blindness that are often encountered in the systems that interact with young clients with complex trauma
  • Discuss case examples of dissociative children that are prototypical of generating systemic stigmatization
  • Describe strategies to gain the cooperation of disbelieving, sometimes punitive professionals to understand and accept dissociative diagnosis for youth
  • Describe integrative intervention strategies with professionals in various systems that shift from a lens of fear and punishment to a lens of empathy, understanding and effective treatment for youth with complex trauma and dissociation
  • Describe treatment techniques for complex youth with identified comorbidity

Additional Information

AttachmentSize
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Course summary
Available credit: 
  • 3.00 APA
    The International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation maintains responsibility for this program and its content.
  • 3.00 ASWB ACE
    The International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD), #1744, is approved to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Organizations, not individual courses, are approved as ACE providers. State and provincial regulatory boards have the final authority to determine whether an individual course may be accepted for continuing education credit. ISSTD maintains responsibility for this course. ACE provider approval period: 08/20/2021 – 08/20/2024. Social workers completing this course receive 3.00 continuing education credits.
  • 3.00 ISSTD Certificate Program
    This program is eligible for 3.00 credits in the ISSTD Certificate Program.
Course opens: 
11/01/2023
Course expires: 
12/31/2050
ISSTD Member cost:
$59.00
Your Price:
$79.00
Rating: 
0
Presenter: Frances S. Waters, DCSW, LMSW, LMFT, PLC
Presenter Bio: Frances S. Waters, DCSW, LMSW, LMFT, is an internationally recognized trainer, consultant, and clinician in childhood trauma, abuse, and dissociation, and has presented extensively in 5 continents. Ms. Waters is the past President of ISSTD, served as co-chair of ISSTD’s Child & Adolescent Committee, and as ISSTD’s Faculty Director of the Child Adolescent Psychotherapy Training Programs. Ms. Waters on Editorial Boards of the Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma and Journal of Child Sexual Abuse. She is a member of the national Advisory Board of the Leadership Council on Child Abuse and Interpersonal Violence. Ms. Waters is author of Healing the Fracture Child: Diagnosing and Treating Dissociative Youth (2016) and has published many chapters and articles on childhood trauma and dissociation. Ms. Waters developed a comprehensive checklist of indicators of trauma and dissociative, CIT-DY(2020) (Parent & Youth Versions), a developmentally sensitive rating system for preschoolers through adolescents, that can be filled out by caretakers and adolescents. She is currently conducting research on this checklist. Ms. Waters is the executive producer and participant of two training videos-The Traumatized Child: Understanding and Parenting the Traumatized Child & Teaching the Traumatize Child and Trauma & Dissociation in Children geared toward forensic evaluators and prosecutors. Ms. Waters received the 2008 Media Award from American Professional Society on Abuse of Children for her production of Trauma and Dissociation in Children, the 2012 ISSTD’s Presidential Award for her faculty directorship of ISSTD’s Psychotherapy Course on Child & Adolescent Dissociation, the ISSTD’s 2019 Cornelia B. Wilbur Award for her research, training and clinical work in the field of trauma and dissociation, the 2019 William Friedrich Memorial Child Sexual Abuse Research, Assessment and/or Treatment Award from IVAT, and the ISSTD’s 2022 Lifetime Distinguished Achievement Award. She maintains a private practice in Marquette, MI.
 
Presenter: Patti van Eys, PhD
Presenter Bio: Patti van Eys, PhD is a licensed clinical psychologist with a private business concentrating on the complexities of the intersection of traumatic experience and mental health challenges. She offers consultation, supervision, legal expertise, training, and evaluation services that draw on her extensive experience serving clients with complex needs. Before the onset of van Eys Mental Health, as Chief Clinical Officer of Omni Visions, Inc., she oversaw the clinical integrity of therapeutic practice with foster children in Omni Visions homes and residential treatment centers. Formerly, she was the Clinical Manager of Behavioral Health Programs at BlueCare Tennessee (2012-2015) and before that, an Assistant Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at Vanderbilt University from 1995 to 2012. She served as the clinical director of Vanderbilt University Center of Excellence for Children in State Custody, a center that specializes in comprehensive psychological assessments and consultations for high risk, complex children and provides intensive training to behavioral health providers. She has trained extensively at the local, regional, and national level on trauma informed care and mental health issues. For the past 12 years, she has testified as an expert witness in capital (death row) cases about the damaging effects of early and chronic child maltreatment on the developing brain. Before coming to Nashville, Dr. van Eys was a provider at the National Children’s Advocacy Center in Huntsville, Alabama where she gained formative experience working with children and adults with complex maltreatment trauma. She is a published author in the area of child maltreatment and currently a co-chair for the task force charged with rewriting the ISSTD child and adolescent best practice guidelines for dissociation. Dr. van Eys received her PhD in Clinical Psychology from Bowling Green State University in Ohio and completed her Clinical Internship/Fellowship at Harvard Medical School (Boston Children’s Hospital/Judge Baker Children’s Center).

 

Available Credit

  • 3.00 APA
    The International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation maintains responsibility for this program and its content.
  • 3.00 ASWB ACE
    The International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD), #1744, is approved to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Organizations, not individual courses, are approved as ACE providers. State and provincial regulatory boards have the final authority to determine whether an individual course may be accepted for continuing education credit. ISSTD maintains responsibility for this course. ACE provider approval period: 08/20/2021 – 08/20/2024. Social workers completing this course receive 3.00 continuing education credits.
  • 3.00 ISSTD Certificate Program
    This program is eligible for 3.00 credits in the ISSTD Certificate Program.

Price

ISSTD Member cost:
$59.00
Your Price:
$79.00
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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. 
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