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Level I: Part Three: Class 8 – Trauma and the Therapeutic Alliance: Understanding the Impact of Counter-Transference

June 10 Join Zoom 8:30 am; Training 8:45 am - 4:15 pm (EST) , 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 process the inherent challenges of working with traumatized clients in a variety of practice settings. Participants will explore the impact that a perpetually “externalized focus” has and the price we pay when we don’t maintain a dual awareness in our work. There is often a disconnect between the energy and effort professionals exert to helping others versus the time they spend re-charging and taking care of themselves. Several writing experientials will allow us to see that discrepancy and invite curiosity about the negative impact it has on clinician efficacy. We will also address the history and evolution of co-dependency and how the need for external validation can make therapists vulnerable to vicarious traumatization. We will identify the risk factors that can lead to secondary traumatization and burn-out including: issues of control; repression; obsessive thinking; weak boundaries; distraction and denial. Participants will process how vicarious trauma manifests in the workplace. We will also identify the warning signs that let clinicians know their objectivity and effectiveness have been compromised.

Participants will also have the opportunity to discuss the potential role that spirituality and religious observance can play, both as a resource in their own lives and in their clients’ healing journeys. Using video examples, we will identify four potential counter-transferential reactive modes that can impact the work and process case examples that illustrate the adverse effect of counter-transference.

Learning Objectives

  1. Identify at least five inherent stressors that exist for helping professionals working with traumatized clients.
  2. Distinguish between “internal” and “external” focus and explain the concept of dual awareness in therapy.
  3. Explain the roots of co-dependence and the family of origin dynamics that make a person vulnerable to needing constant external validation.
  4. Define the concept of vicarious traumatization and explain its relevance to the client-therapist relationship.
  5. Describe at least four risk factors that make helping professionals vulnerable to secondary traumatization and four warning signs that indicate burn-out.
  6. Explain the role of spirituality in trauma treatment and provide several examples of questions that can be used to assess for the viability of spirituality as a resource.
  7. Identify the four possible “reactive modes” that therapists can manifest when they are triggered and overcome by counter-transference.
  8. Explain the difference between empathic disequilibrium and empathic repression.
  9. Give four examples of how vicarious traumatization manifests in the workplace.


8:45-10:00 am

  • Identifying and processing the challenges of working with traumatized clients
  • Helping others vs. helping ourselves- writing experiential
  • Balancing an Internal and external focus

10:00-10:07 am                Break

10:07-11:00 am

  • Exploring the roots of co-dependency: family -of-origin dynamics; resolving a sense of failure; the absence of internal validation; the need for external validation

11:00-11:08 am                  Break

11:08-12:00 pm

  • Understanding vicarious traumatization: risk factors and personal attributes that make us vulnerable
  • Defining self-care and why it’s hard to do

12:00-1:00 pm                    Lunch

1:00-2:00 pm

  • The warning signs of vicarious traumatization
  • How secondary trauma manifests in the workplace
  • Family-of-origin and career choices- writing experiential

2:00-2:05 pm                      Break

2:05-3:00 pm

  • The helping professional and counter-transference
  • Processing empathic disequilibrium-video
  • Processing empathic enmeshment-video

3:00-3:07 pm                       Break

3:07-4:15 pm

  • Processing empathic withdrawal-video
  • Processing empathic repression-video
  • Addressing vicarious traumatization
Lisa Ferentz, LCSW-C DAPA