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Digital Recording

Superhero Therapy for Trauma and PTSD: Integrating Pop Culture to Quickly Build Client Trust, Motivation, & Engagement in Therapy

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Janina Scarlet, PhD
6 Hours 20 Minutes
Audio and Video
Sep 19, 2022
Product Code:
Media Type:
Digital Recording
Never expires.


Earning the trust of trauma survivors is a core task of therapy. Finding ways to open dialogue with teen and adult clients who are not ready to talk about their trauma related symptoms is challenging.

Superhero Therapy (ST) is easy to learn and grounded in science. It’ll help your clients open up about their trauma by empathizing with the pain and suffering of their superhero’s origin story, and by tapping into the strength, compassion, and resilience of that superhero’s journey.

And you don’t need to be a fan of superheroes to use their stories to help your clients.

Watch Janina Scarlet, PhD, PTSD and trauma expert, co-founder of Superhero Therapy, author, and TEDx speaker as she teaches you how to use ST to help promote client healing and empowerment while building trust, rapport, motivation, buy-in and engagement in therapy. You’ll be able to:

  • Assess client’s pop culture passions as early as the first session
  • Integrate ST with trauma treatments you already use, such as CBT, ACT, DBT, EMDR, and narrative therapy
  • Understand client’s traumatic experiences through the lens of their favourite character
  • Help clients take control of their destiny instead of being controlled by their past
  • Find the vocabulary and the skills to process traumatic experiences
  • Help clients use metaphors and examples to convey what they are going through
  • Meet your client’s needs even if you are not familiar with their pop culture references
  • Foster post-traumatic growth in clients to engage in treatment-related practices

Inspired by fictional characters your clients will find strength to prevail, ways of coping with adversity, and meaning in loss and trauma. Purchase today!


Planning Committee Disclosure - No relevant relationships

All members of the PESI, Inc. planning committee have provided disclosures of financial relationships with ineligible organizations and any relevant non-financial relationships prior to planning content for this activity. None of the committee members had relevant financial relationships with ineligible companies or other potentially biasing relationships to disclose to learners.  For speaker disclosures, please see the faculty biography.


This online program is worth 6.5 hours CPD.



Janina Scarlet, PhD's Profile

Janina Scarlet, PhD Related seminars and products

Janina Scarlet, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist, PTSD/trauma expert, co-founder of Superhero Therapy (ST), author, TEDx speaker, and a full-time geek. She works with active-duty service members, as well as veterans and non-veteran civilians with PTSD and trauma.

A Ukrainian-born refugee, she survived Chernobyl radiation and persecution. Dr. Scarlet immigrated to the United States at the age of 12 with her family and later, inspired by the X-Men, developed ST to help people with anxiety, depression, and PTSD. ST is a tool that helps clinicians incorporate clients’ passions about popular culture into evidence-based therapies, such as CBT, ACT, DBT, CPT, EMDR, and narrative therapy to help build rapport with clients, increase adherence to treatment, and narrative therapy to help build rapport with clients, increase adherence to treatment, and to help clients determine their own sense of purpose (i.e., the client’s own heroic journey).

Dr. Scarlet is the lead trauma specialist at the Center for Stress and Anxiety Management and with the Pop Culture Hero Coalition. She is the recipient of the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award by the United Nations Association for her work on Superhero Therapy. Dr. Scarlet’s work has been featured on Yahoo, BBC, NPR, Sunday Times, CNN, CW, ABC, The New York Times, Forbes, and many other outlets. She regularly consults on books and television shows, including HBO’s The Young Justice and was portrayed as a psychologist comic book character in Gail Simone’s Seven Days graphic novel.

Her books include Superhero Therapy, Harry Potter Therapy, Therapy Quest, Super-Women, It Shouldn’t Be This Way, Superhero Therapy for Anxiety and Trauma, and many others.


Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Dr. Janina Scarlet has employment relationships with Superhero Therapy and the Pop Culture Hero Coalition. She receives royalties as a published author. Dr. Scarlet receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc. She has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.
Non-financial: Dr. Janina Scarlet has no relevant non-financial relationships.


  1. Integrate pop culture examples into evidenced-based therapies, such as CBT, ACT, DBT, EMDR, and narrative therapy.
  2. Develop a treatment plan utilizing the client’s origin story.
  3. Utilize game-based approaches to improve client engagement with between-session activities.
  4. Employ creative exercises of fanfiction and cosplay creation to decrease anxiety and trauma symptoms.
  5. Conduct the superhero mentor exercise to increase clients’ distress tolerance and emotional resilience.
  6. Develop a superhero narrative that strengthens clients’ motivation for change and willingness to engage in exposure therapy.


Superhero Therapy (ST) for Trauma Survivors
  • Concepts of ST and origin story
  • Integrate with CBT, ACT, DBT, EMDR, narrative therapy
  • Research related to ST and Parasocial Relationships (PSRs)
  • Books, movies, TV shows, and video games as coping tools
  • Builds trust and rapport with the client quickly
  • Help clients feel more understood and supported
  • Limitation of research and potential risks
Use ST Without Prior Popular Culture Experience
  • Ways to inquire about the client’s experiences with popular culture
  • Client’s pop culture expertise as a strength
  • Ways to empower client as the pop culture expert in the room
  • Incorporate the client’s fandom into treatment
Create a Comprehensive Treatment Plan Using ST
  • Synthesize the client’s origin story, presenting problems, maladaptive/adaptive coping tools, and strengths
  • Treatment plan as a guide for intervention
Research Related to Game-Based Interventions
  • Misconceptions about video games
  • Psychological benefits of video games
  • Discuss video games in session without being a gamer
  • Integrate video games into therapy and gamify homework practices
Fanfiction Writing and Cosplay to Foster Growth and Healing
  • Benefits of creativity and self-expression
  • Foster creativity and self-expression
Narrative Exposure Therapy and Using the Superhero Narrative to Treat PTSD
  • Reduce therapy attrition by incorporating exposures into narrative therapy
  • Increase distress tolerance and emotional resilience skills via the superhero mentor exercise
  • Help clients to change their trauma narrative from victim to survivor
Help Clients Find a Sense of Purpose and Develop Post-traumatic Growth
  • Becoming their own version of a superhero in real life
  • Strengthen motivation for change and willingness to engage in exposures
  • Other therapy skills as a form of courageous steps on their superhero journey

Target Audience

  • Counselors
  • Social Workers
  • Psychiatrists
  • Psychologists
  • Psychotherapists
  • Addiction Counselors
  • Marriage and Family Therapists
  • Therapists
  • Physicians
  • Chaplains/Clergy
  • Case Managers
  • Other Professionals Who Work with Teen and Adult Clients within the Mental Health Fields



Overall:      5

Total Reviews: 5


Allison T

"wonderful presentation, unique way to address client's trauma and healing"

Braulio V

"one of the best trainings I've ever attended "

Eline V

"It was extremely informative. Superhero therapy is new to me and I plan to implement it when I can. "

Catherine M

"Wonderful presentation- and practical for everyday practice. Thank you so much Dr. Scarlet!! "

Jonathan G

"Excellent training with some "super" helpful treatment planning ideas"

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