What to Do Now? How to Overcome Resistance in Treatment of Dissociative Children

One of the biggest factors to successful treatment of children with disruptive behaviors and intense emotions is how to overcome resistance to treatment. Resistance is natural when change is required. Yet, underlying resistance is a fear of change and of the unknown that accompanies change.  In particular, treating traumatized and dissociative children is an even more delicate and challenging process given the unique dynamics related to the child’s heightened sense of fear, the child’s often chaotic internal system and stress on the family environment. Therefore, a critical goal for the therapist is to be a master of overcoming resistance with children  and their parents because that is often a primary cause for treatment failure This workshop will examine five main factors that can influence resistance in treatment of dissociative children and adolescents: how safe the child feels in therapeutic relationship, how safe the child’s internal system feels toward one another and toward the therapist; how safe the child feels in his/her own environment, and contingent upon that is how open or resistant the parents are to receiving treatment for their own histories of trauma that interfere in the child’s safety, and finally, how the therapist manages countertransferences to resistance.  These obstacles can be narrowed down to emphasizing the goal of healing that can help to mitigate resistances.  Many effective interventions and creative solutions will be described throughout the therapeutic process with case examples that will help to overcome the different levels of resistance and emphasize the goal of healing at criticial junctures. Artwork and clinical videotapes will illustrate these points.

This session was originally presented as a live conference session in May 2020.

Target Audience


Learning Objectives

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

  • Describe the dynamics involved in resistance to treatment with dissociative children
  • Explain strategies to help mediate child’s resistance
  • Discuss how to manage therapeutic countertransference to child or parent’s resistance to dissociative treatment
Course summary
Available credit: 
  • 3.00 ISSTD Certificate Program
    This program is eligible for 3.00 credits in the ISSTD Certificate Program.
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Presenter:  Frances Waters, MSW, DCSW, LMSW, LMFT
Presenter Bio: Frances S. Waters, DCSW, LMSW, LMFT, is an internationally recognized trainer, consultant, and clinician in the area of childhood trauma, abuse, and dissociation, and has presented extensively in five continents Ms. Waters is the past President of The International Society for the Study of Trauma & Dissociation (ISSTD) and has served on many committees with ISSTD. She also serves on Editorial Board of the Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma, contributing guest editor for the Journal of Trauma and Dissociation, and on 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 is the executive producer of two training videos, The Traumatized Child: Understanding and Parenting the Traumatized Child, and Trauma & Dissociation in Children specifically geared toward child 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, and ISSTD’s Presidential Award for her faculty directorship of ISSTD’s Training Course on Child & Adolescent Trauma and Dissociation. She is a fellow of ISSTD. She maintains a private practice in Marquette, MI.

Presenter:  Joyanna Silberg, PhD
Presenter Bio: Joyanna Silberg is a past-president of ISSTD and author of The Child Survivor: Healing Developmental Trauma and Dissociation, 2nd edition, May, 2021. She is an expert in childhood dissociation and the evaluation of sexual abuse. Currently, she serves as president of The Leadership Council on Child Abuse & Interpersonal Violence. She has lectured nationally and internationally on her treatment approach to child dissociation and on protecting children's rights in family court. She was past senior consultant for childhood trauma at Sheppard Pratt Health Center.

Available Credit

  • 3.00 ISSTD Certificate Program
    This program is eligible for 3.00 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.