Complex Trauma: Recognising and Responding Effectively to Our Clients - Social Work

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A Day of Theory and Training for Working Beyond Single Incident Trauma

Complex trauma is highly damaging but frequently unrecognized and inappropriately treated. While current research in the neurobiology of attachment has major implications for treatment of trauma, the potential of these insights is not widely operationalized in clinical practice and confusion about the differences between ‘complex’ and ‘single incident’ trauma persists.

This training event addresses the stakes of recognizing and responding to complex trauma (which comes in many guises) in light of current research findings and their implications for treatment.

Clinical and research insights establish that effective approaches to complex trauma are “phased” and need to engage physical as well as cognitive and emotional processes (‘bottom up’ and ‘top down’) This poses challenges to standard perspectives (i.e. insight-based and cognitive behavioural) which privilege ‘talk’ and which thus require some reconsideration. Core features of effective therapy for complex trauma will be delineated and discussed.

Learning Objectives of This Training:

  1. Recognize the possibility of complex trauma in diverse client presentations.
  2. Recognize differences between complex/single incident trauma and the treatment implications.
  3. Identify the necessary components of effective therapy for complex trauma, and the extent to which the combination of these components may require modification and adaptation of your existing ways of working.
  4. Chart the links between core principles of effective therapy for complex trauma and their clinical application.
  5. Recognize the centrality of the realm of the non-verbal and ways in which unarticulated experience is ‘evoked’, ‘enacted’ and ‘embodied’ (Wallin, 2007).
  6. Understand the rationale for the three phases of recommended treatment for complex trauma and assemble a foundational context in which Phase 1 (safety and stabilization) can take place.
  7. Attune with increased sensitivity to non-verbal cues within the evolving stages of the therapeutic relationship.
  8. Embed within your particular approach ongoing attunement to pre-verbal experience and the body with a view to assisting clients to stay within their ‘window of tolerance’.

How will you benefit from attending this training?

  • Increase attunement to the role of non-verbal experience and the body in effective therapy for complex trauma.
  • Recognize the relationship between research findings pertaining to complex trauma and their application to practice.
  • Understand ways in which standard psychotherapeutic approaches (insight-based and cognitive behavioural) may require adaptation and supplement in light of the evolving research base on complex trauma and a basic capacity to tailor familiar ways of working in light of this understanding.


Morning Session 

  • `Complex’ and ‘single incident trauma (PTSD) - the stakes of the distinction and the implications for treatment.
  • A diverse research base - the neurobiology of attachment.
  • Trauma theory. 
  • The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study.

Afternoon Session 

  • Clinical implications of the research base- importance of non-verbal and the body (`bottom up’ and `top down’).
  • The challenge to `standard’ psychotherapeutic approaches.
  • Mental health and adaptation to trauma.
  • The importance of dissociation.
  • Key features of effective therapy for complex trauma.
  • Working clinically: Initial stages of therapy.
  • Towards self-regulation (the centrality of safety).
  • Phased treatment.
  • Transference and counter-transference.
  • The high stakes of therapist well-being.
  • Vicarious trauma, self-care and supervision. Evaluation and closing.

Evaluation and Quiz - your payment includes a quiz which when completed with a minimum of 80% correct answers, will enable you to download your Attendance Certificate.

To complete the quiz, please log into your account at and click the orange "Certificate" button under the program's title.

Target Audience

This seminar has been designed to extend the clinical knowledge and applied skill of Counsellors, Psychotherapists, Coaches, Psychologists, Hypnotherapists, Social Workers, Case Workers, Pastoral Care Workers, Community Workers, Mental Health Nurses and Psychiatrists.

Note this e-course is not hosted on Nexlec and users can click the "Select" button to be directed to the course page.

Providers Terms

Cancellation Policy and Disclaimer

Refunds less a $50.00 administration fee are given for cancellations received in writing via email or post. Cancellations must be received no later than 10 days prior to your event date. Refunds and transfers are not possible inside 10 days from the event. Cancellation policy is final and not negotiable.

PDP regrets the difficult personal circumstances that prevent people attending including medical conditions, emergencies, severe weather or transport difficulties and we do not issue refunds in any circumstance other than those outlined in this cancellation policy. PDP is unable to accept responsibility for the failure of the presenter to arrive due to unforeseen circumstances.

Transfer of Registration to Another Person

Registrations are transferable IN FULL to another person on notification in writing to PDP and no admin fees are charged for this service. Where a delegate can only attend for part of a training, transfer of the remainder of the registration to another person is NOT possible.

Cancellation/Reschedule of an Event by PDP

PDP will contact you within 10 days of the event date on the rare occasion that we need to cancel/reschedule an event. You will be offered the following options:

  • A full refund of your paid registration fee.
  • Transfer of your registration into another equivalent event on our calendar.

Please contact the Provider directly or follow the ticket selection button to the Course Provider Website for full terms and conditions.

Standard $133Closed


Standard Closed
Contact Hours:

7.0 hrs


Lecture and Assessment


1 Day

Lecture Videos

All Devices





PDP Seminars
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Pam Stavropoulos

PhD - UniMelb, Grad. Dip. Psychotherapy (JNI) , Certificate IV in Workplace Training and Assessment, Fulbright Alumni, Clinical Member PACFA

Pam Stavropoulos PhD is a Sydney based educator, consultant and psychotherapist. A former Fulbright Scholar and twice winner of the Pierre Janet Writing Award for the best clinical, theoretical or research paper in the field of dissociation and/or trauma, she is a member of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD) and co-authored the nationally and internationally endorsed Practice Guidelines for Clinical Treatment of Complex Trauma (2019, 2012). Formerly Head of Research with the Blue Knot Foundation, Pam has held lectureships at the University of New England and Macquarie University, from which she left her tenured position to study and practise psychotherapy, and is a former Program Director of the Jansen Newman Institute, Sydney. The author of Living under Liberalism: The Politics of Depression in Western Democracies (2008) she has written research reports in the community health sector and is a clinical supervisor who specialises in complex trauma-related issues.  

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