Session F4: The Self-Protective and Defense System of Children Affected by Developmental Trauma

Friday, April 19th

About the Session

Children affected by developmental trauma experienced acts of commission and especially acts of omission during critical periods of development. To coexist with overwhelming affect, these children had to develop rigid forms of self-protection that can make the therapeutic process stagnant. Defensive and protective strategies are complex as multiple systems, such as the attachment system, the defense cascade of the Autonomic Nervous System, and biological motivational systems interact in the trauma-forming defensive strategies. Without adequate experiences of dyadic regulation and safety, children learn that their emotions, body sensations, and, ultimately, their inner world are dangerous, leading to trauma-related phobias and rigid forms of self-protection and defense. These trauma-derived adaptations, such as avoidance, control, pleasing, idealization, and more, coexist interwoven with traumatogenic memories, trauma-related phobias, and attachment deficits. This presentation will provide a theoretical and clinical framework to understand and treat the legacy of developmental trauma with a special focus on the work often necessary around the defense system. This workshop will deliver effective and developmentally appropriate strategies within a multimodal approach to EMDR therapy, which incorporates movement, co-regulation, therapeutic play, and expressive arts and therapeutic embodiments.

Learning Objectives


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