Online Trauma Training
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Using Compassion-Focused Therapy to Work with Shame-Based Flashbacks in PTSD (Master Clinician Video, 1.5 Credits)
with Deborah Lee, PhD

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Shame-based flashbacks are common in PTSD and are highly distressing and disturbing for most people who experience them. The personal meaning conveyed in the fragmented images and flashbacks is often painful, condemning and shaming. High levels of self-criticism appear to maintain the sense of current psychological threat experienced by individuals with PTSD. Evidence suggests that those who suffer from shame-based PTSD are often very self-critical and have difficulty regulating threat-based emotions with self-soothing. Current evidence-based treatments for PTSD promote the use of exposure or enhanced reliving to treat flashbacks and other symptoms, yet this is based on an anxiety paradigm where fear is the predominant emotion associated with the trauma. Emerging evidence suggests such treatment approaches are not always suitable for shame-based PTSD, especially when clients are very self-critical and lack skills in self-soothing. This presentation will introduce attendees to compassion-focused therapy for PTSD and will provide a theoretical and practical understanding of the use of compassion-focused therapy techniques and compassionate images to work with shame-based flashbacks in order to enhance self-soothing and feelings of safeness in the memories and to reduce self-critical maintenance cycles.

Learning Objectives

  • Identify shame and state its role in the context of PTSD flashbacks
  • Define compassion focused therapy and relate its success with the military population 
  • Explain and give case examples of f compassionate imagery in flashbacks