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Ethics in the Treatment of Chronically Traumatized Individuals (Audio Training, 3 Credits)

with Kathy Steele, MN, CS & Christine Courtois, PhD

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Therapists need to develop congruent personal and professional ethics to supplement formal ethics codes in order to prevent and manage the numerous complex issues that emerge in the treatment of chronically traumatized individuals. Such ethics need to be clearyet flexible in order to navigate successfully the shifting challengesin trauma therapies. This workshop explores ways to develop ethics that support therapists in acting most adaptively because they are aware of the risks and challenges inherent in treating this population,and consistently engage in self-reflection regarding their ability to ethically manage difficult, complex treatments. This self-reflection involves therapists´ abilities to integrate mindful awareness of and empathy for their clients and themselves in the therapeutic relationship to distinguish between wishes and needs; to maintain ongoing awareness of potential pitfalls; and to seek consultation and learn from therapeutic mistakes in order to successfully cope with and resolve ongoing and often ambiguous ethical issues. Common ethical dilemmas encountered in trauma treatment will be explored and discussed through didactic presentation, case presentations, and experiential exercises. Major issues involve the treatment frame and the maintenance of appropriate and professional boundaries, especially during times of crises, and the challenges of working with ttachment disturbances.

  • Explain how relationship problems can maintain PTSD, aggravate its course, or interfere with successful treatment.
  • Describe the 3-stage model for incorporating significant others into assessment and evidence-based treatment for PTSD.
  • Specify how partner aggression and substance abuse may affect couple treatment for PTSD.