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223: Trauma Treatment: Healing from the Characterological, Neurological, and Spiritual Dimensions

John Townsend, Ph.D.
Townsend Institute for Leadership and Counseling
260 Newport Center Dr., Ste. 100
Newport Beach, CA 92660

Scott Makin, M.A.
Townsend Institute for Leadership and Counseling
260 Newport Center Dr., Ste. 100
Newport Beach, CA 92660

Trauma and its treatment are very complex and often overwhelming for therapists. Participants will learn an innovative and readily understandable approach that incorporates the latest research in interpersonal neurobiology, affective neuroscience, attachment therapy, polyvagal theory, infant research, affect regulation theory, mentalization, memory reconsolidation theory, and experiential dynamic psychotherapy. This interdisciplinary approach focuses on identifying the characterological (i.e., personality structure, developmental tasks) deficits created by the trauma (driving the symptoms) and uses experientially-based counseling skills to create new characterological structure. These skills facilitate “mismatching experiences” (i.e., corrective emotional experiences) and a co-created, secure attachment with the client, which is thesine qua nonfor exploration, growth, and healing. Combined with the person of the therapist (which research affirms is more powerful than any technique), the therapeutic relationship provides new and reparative experiences that are a disconfirmation or a novel, salient variation of implicit core emotional learnings that are hurtful and maladaptive. Neurologically, these new experiences unlock and delete the dysfunctional emotional learnings at the synaptic level and build new neural pathways for characterological structure, leading to a decrease in symptoms. This transformative, enduring change goes beyond just helping the client cope through counteracting strategies. Participants will see these skills modeled and have an opportunity to practice one or two of them.

Learning Objectives
Participants will:
• Articulate an understanding of the characterological dimension for trauma treatment for psychologists and licensed mental health providers, including the four core capacities of character structure: attachment, separation, integration, and adulthood
• Identify approaches for assessing the conditions of the therapy environment that the psychologist or licensed mental health provider can influence to impact the remittance of inhibiting neurological underpinnings of clients who are experiencing mental health issues resulting from trauma
• Exhibit an operational understanding of the processes for identifying and using specific techniques to impact the spiritual dimension of mental health conditions that have resulted from trauma

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