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Digital Recordings

2-Day: Transforming Trauma-Related Resistance and Stuckness

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Janina Fisher, PhD
12 Hours 28 Minutes
Jun 09, 2021
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Digital Recordings - Also available: DVD


Trauma treatment is invariably complicated by the fact that most traumatic experiences involve incompetence or cruelty perpetrated by other human beings. Thereafter, even loved ones no longer feel safe: they feel threatening

Coming to therapy is a cry for help, requiring vulnerability.

But being offered help has often come to be associated with powerlessness, manipulation, and humiliation. Even when clients sincerely want something different for themselves, they cannot control the triggering of instinctive survival defences, nor the fact that each survival response is inherently in conflict with another. Should the client commit to therapy or flee? Combat the therapist’s every effort? Or “submit” by coming but not fully participating?

In this workshop, you will explore the complex relationships between these internal trauma-related conflicts and resistance in psychotherapy. Using techniques drawn from Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Internal Family Systems, and other mindfulness-based psychotherapy models, participants will learn how to de-code resistance and help clients become aware of their therapy-related conflicts and resistance as a normal aspect of trauma treatment.

What we clinicians often label “resistance” may reflect inherent trauma-related conflicts activated by all forms of treatment and all types of therapists. Resistance can manifest in any of the following ways:

  • A passive aggressive ‘no’ to every therapeutic intervention
  • Unchecked self-destructive behaviour
  • A struggle for therapeutic control
  • Desperation for help alternating with resistance to accepting it

Purchase today! You have a chance to become part of the solution instead of part of the problem.



This online program is worth 12.5 hours CPD.



Janina Fisher, PhD's Profile

Janina Fisher, PhD Related seminars and products

Janina Fisher, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist and former instructor at The Trauma Center, a research and treatment center founded by Bessel van der Kolk. Known as an expert on the treatment of trauma, Dr. Fisher has also been treating individuals, couples and families since 1980.

She is past president of the New England Society for the Treatment of Trauma and Dissociation, an EMDR International Association Credit Provider, Assistant Educational Director of the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute, and a former Instructor, Harvard Medical School. Dr. Fisher lectures and teaches nationally and internationally on topics related to the integration of the neurobiological research and newer trauma treatment paradigms into traditional therapeutic modalities.

She is co-author with Pat Ogden of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy: Interventions for Attachment and Trauma (2015) and author of Healing the Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivors: Overcoming Internal Self-Alienation (2017) and the forthcoming book, Working with the Neurobiological Legacy of Trauma (in press).


Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Dr. Janina Fisher has an employment relationship with the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute. She is a consultant for Khiron House Clinics and the Massachusetts Department of MH Restraint and Seclusion Initiative. Dr. Fisher receives royalties as a published author. She receives a speaking honorarium, recording royalties and book royalties from Psychotherapy Networker and PESI, Inc. Dr. Fisher has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.
Non-financial: Dr. Janina Fisher is on the advisory board for the Trauma Research Foundation.



  1. Evaluate the effects of traumatic experience on attachment formation.
  2. Determine the role of implicit memory in post-traumatic symptoms.
  3. Investigate manifestations of animal defence survival responses.
  4. Differentiate common conflicts between survival defences observed in relationships.
  5. Determine the aspects of psychotherapy that evoke defensive responses in traumatized clients.
  6. Assess the association between client resistance or stuckness and trauma-related survival defences.
  7. Practice methods of evoking curiosity in stuck or resistant clients that move therapy forward.
  8. Evaluate the role of ‘positive re-framing’ symptoms in trauma treatment.
  9. Utilize Sensorimotor Psychotherapy interventions to help clients notice resistance without shame.
  10. Determine use of the structural dissociation model for understanding resistance.
  11. Utilize parts-related interventions to help clients resolve their resistance and/or “stuckness”.
  12. Determine any signs of therapist resistance to resistant clients and how to plan therapy sessions around this issue.



What do we mean by resistance and stuckness?

  • Depression, shame, self-loathing
  • Chronic suicidality or self-destructive behaviour
  • Belief that nothing will work
  • Difficulty coming to or being present in therapy
  • Struggles for control of the process

Therapy as a threat, not a refuge

  • Phobias of vulnerability
  • Phobias of closeness or being visible
  • Phobias of abandonment and distance
  • Trauma-related fear and mistrust

How manifestations of stuckness and resistance reflect animal defences

  • Survival responses and strategies
  • Introduction to the Structural Dissociation Model
  • Understanding resistance and stuckness as defensive, not offensive

How we interpret resistance may increase, not decrease it

  • Triggering aspects of psychotherapy
  • Decreasing the ‘threat’
  • Positively re-framing stuckness and resistance as adaptive
  • Acknowledging and sharing the dilemma: the client wants help but not at the cost of vulnerability

Using the therapeutic relationship

  • Navigating the threat of closeness and the threat of distance
  • Making use of the “social engagement system”
  • Therapeutic benefits of laughter and playfulness


Helping clients deconstruct inner conflicts and struggles

  • Making use of the Structural Dissociation Model in therapy
  • Helping clients understand internal conflicts as struggles between parts
  • Using the language of parts to articulate and highlight contradictory behaviour
  • Honouring the parts who defend by resisting

Increasing client ability to observe trauma-related patterns

  • Introducing mindfulness as a therapeutic tool
  • Increasing curiosity and interest
  • Using psychoeducation to challenge existing beliefs and patterns

”Befriending” the resistance

  • Letting go of our need for the client to change or engage
  • Facilitating empathy for parts who defend and parts that feel injured
  • Re-framing resistance and stuckness as “the parts,” not the whole of the client
  • Cultivating compassionate internal relationships

Creative solutions for old and obsolete survival strategies

  • ”Negotiated settlements” with defender parts
  • Internal soothing and comfort for hurt and fearful parts
  • Therapeutic support for resistance and acceptance of stuckness
  • Creating a sense of “we” that includes the parts who collaborate and the parts who resist as well as the therapist

Healing the wounds of the past

  • Providing ‘missing experiences’ of healthy attachment
  • Therapy as a play space: balancing permissiveness and structure
  • ”Being” the therapeutic relationship instead of talking about it
  • Enjoying the struggles rather than resisting them

Target Audience

  • Counselors
  • Social Workers
  • Psychologists
  • Case Manager
  • Addiction Counselors
  • Therapists
  • Marriage & Family Therapists
  • Nurses
  • Other Mental Health Professionals


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