Dr. Heather Gingrich is the author of the book Restoring the Shattered Self: A Christian Counselor’s Guide to Complex Trauma. She serves in the graduate faculty of Denver Seminary. The goal of this two-part presentation is to offer tools to professional counselors they can use when working with complex trauma survivors, as well as to give lay helpers and survivors a sense of what the healing process can entail. The trauma histories of complex trauma survivors (e.g., adult survivors of child abuse, intimate partner violence, torture, multiple traumas, kidnapping, sex trafficking victims) are not the same as the trauma histories of those who develop PTSD which makes the healing process different. How early experiences of complex trauma negatively impact attachment style and the ability of the individual to form an integrated sense of self will be examined after which the three-phase treatment model that has become the standard of care for complex PTSD (C-PTSD) will be introduced.
The following counseling issues will be discussed: establishing safety, maintaining appropriate therapeutic boundaries, symptom management, working through traumatic memories, dealing with spiritual issues, and eliciting social and prayer support from the local church. Special attention will be given to the constructive use of such clients’ dissociative abilities for symptom containment early on in treatment (Phase I) as well as when working through trauma memories (Phase II).