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Level I: Part One: Class 1 – Understanding Trauma and its Reverberating Effects: The Strengths-Based Perspective

March 11 Join Zoom 8:30am; Training 8:45am-4:15pm (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 set the stage for a clinical and philosophical approach to trauma informed treatment, which will include an in-depth exploration of a strengths-based, de-pathologized approach to assessing and treating clients. We will process the features of therapy and the therapeutic relationship that promote an emphasis on clients’ resiliency and courage, while learning ways to help clients re-frame and “make sense” out of their long-term struggles and destructive coping strategies.

Participants will learn about the power of clients’ “meaning-making” in response to threatening or abusive life events, and how those cognitions either intensify or lessen the long-term effects of trauma. We will also process the new diagnostic criteria for PTSD including: exposure; intrusive symptoms; avoidance; and negative alterations in cognitions and mood. We will look at the factors that make it more or less likely for a traumatized person to develop PTSD and weave those dynamics into the assessment phase of treatment. We will explore the potential biological responses to perceived threat including: social engagement; fight or flight; fawn; and freeze. Participants will learn about the physiological reactions that are set in motion when we are confronted with life threatening scenarios, the hierarchy of how we want to respond, and the inevitable ways in which we are often forced to respond in order to stay safe.

Learning Objectives

  1. Identify and describe the four precepts of a strengths-based approach to treating clients with histories of trauma, abuse, and neglect.
  2. Provide at least five reasons why the strengths-based approach builds a trusting therapeutic alliance and is more effective with traumatized clients.
  3. Describe the meaning making that either exacerbates or mitigates the self-blame and shame felt by traumatized clients.
  4. Identify the diagnostic criteria for PTSD as well as the changes that have been made to the DSM regarding the diagnosis.
  5. Identify at least four risk factors that increase the possibility of developing PTSD after a traumatic experience.
  6. Distinguish between and describe the possible biological reactions to threat and trauma: social attachment, fight, flight, or freeze
  7. Describe the manifestation of the fawning response as a reaction to childhood abuse.


8:45-10:00 am

  • Introduction and orientation
  • The strengths-based perspective: normalizing and universalizing clients’ “symptoms” and struggles

10:00-10:08 am         Break

10:08-11:00 pm

  • The power of de-pathologizing the sequelae of trauma
  • The overdiagnosis of clients

11:00-11:07 am            Break

11:07-12:00 pm

  • Understanding the trauma survivor’s self-perception and its impact on shame and self-blame
  • The importance of cognitive re-framing
  • The advantages of a strengths-based approach

12:00-1:00 pm             Lunch

1:00-2:00 pm

  • Defining trauma and the impact of loss
  • When client’s meaning-making exacerbates or mitigates the impact of trauma
  • The long-term effects of negative meaning making and the personalization of trauma
  • The healing effects of positive meaning-making

2:00-2:07 pm               Break

2:07-3:00 pm

  • Processing examples of potentially traumatizing events
  • Exploring the new DSM diagnostic criteria for PTSD
  • Risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing PTSD after trauma

3:00-3:08 pm               Break

3:08-4:15 pm

  • Understanding social engagement versus the fight or flight responses
  • Understanding fawning and freeze responses
  • Video- Peter Levine: freeze in the animal kingdom
Lisa Ferentz, LCSW-C DAPA
“I was feeling frustrated in my practice before taking the program. Post-class I feel revived, equipped with more tools to take into my sessions, and overall, more engaged with my clients!” Kim S.

“The information provided in this program has greatly enriched my clinical experience. Lisa is a fantastic instructor.” Susan S.

“This training has helped me to take back to our office a wealth of information to use with clients- youth, adolescents and adults- and given them ways to better heal from their trauma.” Jessica P.

“Thank you, Lisa! This was better than grad school!” Katie O.

“Lisa’s Level I training was an incredible experience. The tangible take-aways to better support and serve my clients after every session were so helpful! I recommend this training to any and all clinicians.” Alyssa M.

“I learned so much information in this training! Working with children who have been through trauma, this training helped me to understand so much in regards to how that trauma is affecting their lives.” Christine F.