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Level I: Part Three: Class 7 – Trauma and the Therapeutic Alliance: Bridging Therapy Sessions, Working with Self-Harm, and Traumatic Transference

May 31 Join Zoom 8:30 am; Training 8:45 am - 4:15 pm (ET) , 6 CEUs Presenter: Lisa Ferentz, LCSW-C, DAPA Zoom, MD + Google Map

This class is only open to participants of the Level I program.

For information about the Level I Trauma Certificate Program, click here.

Workshop Description

In this 6-hour workshop we will explore creative ways to empower clients to continue their work outside of therapy by introducing “invitations” to be accomplished in between their sessions. Participants will learn about specific assignments that are designed to deepen insights, help clients practice and master new behaviors, strengthen healthier cognitions, increase self-confidence, self-compassion, and self-care. We will also address the guidelines that need to be followed to help clients successfully follow through with the agreed upon invitations. For those clients who are still impacted by Covid, we will acknowledge the tasks that can address the mental fallout of the Pandemic. Since many clients have turned to destructive coping strategies in response to Covid, we will explore the CARESS model which replaces standard safety contracts and gives clients concrete steps to follow when they get the impulse to engage in self-harm.

In the second half of the workshop, we will compare the therapist’s perspective on treatment with a traumatized client’s assumptions and expectations when they enter  therapy. We will look at specific dynamics related to transference and traumatic transference and process videos that depict these inter-personal scenarios in treatment. This will include a discussion about the impact that family and cultural values and beliefs have on therapy and the therapeutic relationship. We will also address the potential triggers in therapy including: the practice setting; therapists’ inadvertent errors; and the paradigms that are used in treatment. We will look at issues of trust, client testing, boundary violations, idealizing or bad-mouthing the therapist, the client’s impulse to sabotage the relationship and how to best address these transferential dynamics without evoking additional shame or blame.

Learning Objectives

  1. Explain the notion of seeking treatment from both clients’ and therapists’ perspectives and identify the similarities and differences that impact treatment outcomes.
  2. Identify at least six examples of the dysfunctional family-of-origin dynamics that can adversely impact the therapeutic relationship.
  3. Define traumatic transference and summarize at least five manifestations in trauma survivors.
  4. Identify at least five ways in which trauma survivors test therapist boundaries and manifest trust issues in the therapeutic alliance.
  5. Identify and implement at least five questions designed to address cultural beliefs and their impact on therapy and the therapeutic relationship.
  6. Identify at least four errors therapists can make that inadvertently trigger transferential responses in clients.
  7. Describe at least three ways in which Covid has contributed to clients’ triggers regarding therapy and the client-therapist relationship.
  8. Explain and implement at least three concrete ways that therapists can safely address the issues of transference with their clients.


8:45-10:00 am

  • Bridging sessions with homework/invitations
  • Suggestions for invitations
  • Guidelines for increasing clients’ success with invitations
  • Working with CARESS instead of standard safety contracts- clients’ artwork

10:00-10:07 am                      Break

10:07-11:00 am

  • Treatment from the therapist’s perspective
  • Family-of-origin dynamics that impact the therapeutic relationship
  • Defining traumatic transference
  • Treatment from the client’s perspective: processing inaccurate expectations and assumptions

11:00-11:08 am                       Break

11:08-12:00 pm

  • Cultural considerations: the impact of familial, racial, and ethnic core values and beliefs on therapy and the therapeutic relationship
  • Manifestations of traumatic transference: trust; fawning responses; sabotaging; displaced anger; bravado
  • Videos and discussion

12:00-1:00 pm                        Lunch

1:00-2:00 pm

  • Transferential triggers: practice setting; therapist’s interventions and inadvertent errors; verbal and non-verbal communication
  • Videos and discussion

2:00-2:05 pm                         Break

2:05-3:00 pm

  • The impact of transference on the therapeutic relationship: navigating testing
  • The impact that Covid has on triggers

3:00-3:07 pm                         Break

3:07-4:15 pm

  • Transferential Issues to address in therapy: hyper-vigilance; fear of abandonment; projecting shame and blame; poor boundaries; relationship ambivalence
  • Working through transference without increasing shame
Lisa Ferentz, LCSW-C DAPA