Foundations 6: Working with Reactivity and Strong Affect in Therapy Sessions

CE Hours: 6.0

Friday, 3/19/21, Philhaven via Zoom
Friday, 4/30/21, Norristown via Zoom

This workshop is designed to assist therapists in their role of managing emotional intensity in sessions, helping family members remain emotionally regulated so therapy can be productive.  The population of families served by intensive, in-home treatment often have a history of complex developmental trauma, which means reactivity is common in sessions. Karpman’s drama triangle will be introduced to help therapists keep in mind the rapidly shifting roles of family members in high intensity interactions.  During the workshop, participants will explore common themes, situations, and experiences that may contribute to reactivity in family sessions. Basic strategies are described for soothing and decreasing intensity. The workshop will emphasize the importance of the therapist’s awareness of and skills in personal emotion regulation as one of the key tools to successfully managing the emotional intensity in the room. The concepts of vicarious trauma and vicarious resiliency will be introduced. Participants will be given time to discuss their experiences with high intensity families, to brainstorm strategies they have used to remain calm during intense moments, and to identify clues that alert them to the need for more support. 


As a result of participating in this workshop, therapists will be able to:

  1. List three reasons why family members react negatively in therapy sessions
  2. Identify two techniques to contain judgement and create emotional safety in therapy sessions
  3. Select two strategies for regulating personal emotions during intense or highly reactive sessions.
  4. Summarize Karpman’s drama triangle 
  5. Define vicarious trauma and vicarious resilience
  6. Identify two personal early warning signs that vicarious trauma is impacting personal self-regulation.

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