The Snow White 'Parts' Metaphor: Working With Complex And Attachment Trauma - Social Work

The Snow White 'Parts' Metaphor: Working With Complex And Attachment Trauma


Once-upon-a-time, if Snow White presented to a psychiatrist describing her attempted murder, talking animals, whispering trees and living in a forest with seven male strangers, she would likely receive a diagnosis of hysteria, psychosis, a personality disorder or schizophrenia. Today, through a trauma-informed lens grounded in neuroscience, we would ask not, “What is wrong with Snow White?” Rather, we would wonder, “What happened to Snow White?” In exploring carefully, sensitively and respectfully, we would learn of her history of complex and developmental trauma, the loss of her mother at birth, attachment disruption, neglect, betrayal and family violence.

Childhood abuse and betrayal trauma set in motion the development of complicated attachment styles, disrupted sense of Self, intense self-loathing, and paralyzing shame. Clients present with a range of symptomatology and seemingly self-sabotaging behaviours. They may meet criteria for several diagnosis, including complex PTSD, personality disorders, eating disorders, dissociative disorders, substance abuse disorders, anxiety disorders, mood disorders, non-suicidal self-injury, and suicidal ideation. The Snow White model reframes the medicalized ‘disordered’ perspective and approaches symptoms and behaviours as functional adaptations or accommodations to trauma, rooted in self-protection and survival, “the problem is not the problem but a solution to another problem.”

Harnessing the fairy-tale of Snow White as a metaphor, each character is recognized as a ‘Part’ in a complex personality structure with a role and function to protect Snow White from the pain of overwhelming trauma, abuse, and neglect. This workshop will demystify complex dynamics and behaviours and provide strategies to work with internal conflicts and protective behaviours embodied by different parts. A non-pathologizing approach, the Snow White model provides a comprehensive framework to assist clients in healing early attachment and trauma-based wounds. Using video, case examples and exercises, Naomi will assist you to identify what works for whom, and when.

Setting the Scene:

  • The Snow White fairy tale as metaphor for complex and developmental trauma
  • Multiplicity of mind: Structural dissociation theory and Internal Family Systems model
  • Introducing Snow White and her parts
    • Role and protective function
    • Survival responses: fight – flight – freeze – collapse – people pleaser / tend and befriend – attach
    • Attachment styles

Reframing cCmplex Symptoms and Behaviour: Core Trauma Dynamics

  • Locus of control shift
  • Ambivalent attachment to the perpetrator
  • Internal victim – rescuer – persecutor triangle
  • Impulse control: the problem is not the problem (but a solution to another problem)
  • Reframing resistance

Navigating Common Therapy Pitfalls

The impact of developmental trauma on attachment formation, style and implications for the therapeutic relationship

  • Disorganized / fearful avoidant
  • Trigger loop – cascading triggering of parts
  • Interaction of client / therapist parts and attachment styles

Targeting Interventions: “What works for whom”:

The neuro-affective compasses:

  • Prefrontal compass
  • Limbic compass
  • Autonomic compass

Working Within Window of Tolerance – Developing Tolerance for the Intolerable

  • stabilization strategies for different parts
    • grounding and containment
    • visualization and mindfulness
    • internal communication

Four strategies to work with parts

  • Talking through
  • Written / dialoguing
  • Artwork
  • Body work

Stepping toward challenging emotions: peeling the layers of the onion

  • ‘What if’ cascade
  • Shame compass adapted to Snow White’s parts
  • Rage and depression
  • Terror, helplessness and vulnerability
  • Grief

Participants will be able to:

  1. Understand the protective role and function of self-sabotaging behaviours and symptoms
  2. Utilize a ‘parts’ approach in working with complex trauma and attachment related conflicts
  3. Identify activation of four core trauma dynamics within the client’s internal and external world
  4. Engage therapeutically appropriate to a parts attachment style
  5. Responding safely when the triangle is activated in therapy
  6. Work within the window of tolerance of each part
  7. Apply understanding of the trigger loop to unlock internal conflicts
  8. Facilitate four strategies to work with parts

Providers Terms

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



Super Saver Price - Individual

USD $209


Super Saver Price - Group 3+

USD $196


Early Bird Price - Individual

USD $223


Early Bird Price - Group 3+

USD $209


Standard Price - Individual

USD $236


Standard Price - Group 3+

USD $223


Student Price

USD $131



Super Saver Price - IndividualClosedSuper Saver Price - Group 3+ClosedEarly Bird Price - IndividualClosedEarly Bird Price - Group 3+ClosedStandard Price - IndividualClosedStandard Price - Group 3+ClosedStudent PriceClosed
Contact Hours:

8.0 hrs


Tue, 12 September 2023

Start Time:

9:00 AM


1 Day






Mansfield 2 Room, Atura


24 Hawkestone Street Thorndon Wellington, 6011,
Wellington, North Island,
New Zealand, 6011




Naomi Halpern

Naomi trained as a social worker in the UK. Early in her career she worked with children in short stay emergency care, homeless youth, and convicted offenders in government and non-government organisations, providing advocacy, psychosocial education, recreational opportunities, skills training, supervision and counselling.

In 1987, Naomi went into partnership with Susan Henry at The Delphi Centre, now known as Delphi Training and Consulting where she developed expertise in therapy for adult sequelae of childhood abuse, neglect and attachment disruptions.

Naomi provides clinical consultation for complex post-traumatic stress, dissociative disorders and related impacts of childhood developmental trauma and abuse, for mental health professionals working with adult victim / survivors of intergenerational trauma, gender-based violence, and other trauma. She has a wealth of experience working with people across socioeconomic groups, faiths, and sexual orientation.

She is a consultant and trainer for law firms, providing trauma informed training and supporting lawyers’ mental health and wellbeing. Since 2009, Naomi has been an external consultant to the United Nations developing and delivering a broad range of trauma informed programs to personnel in missions and duty stations around the world.

A skilled speaker and trainer, Naomi has presented training about complex and developmental trauma, vicarious trauma, resilience building and workplace wellbeing through Delphi and United Nations, in-person and online across all Australian States and Territories – Africa – Denmark – Germany – India – Italy – Lebanon – New Zealand – Romania – Thailand – United States. See organisations Naomi has partnered

A founding member of The Australian Association of Trauma and Dissociation Inc. in 1992 (amalgamated with the Australasian Association of Traumatic Stress Studies in 1996) Naomi served on the Executive Committee and Conference Committee from 1991 – 1996, and as Treasurer from 1992 – 1995.

She is a founding member and spokesperson for an action group for victims of white collar crime. An advocate for victims of deceptive and misleading financial advice, Naomi has provided submissions and testimony to senate committees and other inquiries and has been an invited speaker at financial industry forums regarding the impact of white collar crime, the changes needed in the industry and legislation. She has worked closely with parliamentarians across political parties and the media. She is frequently contacted for commentary.

Naomi is a Fellow of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation. And co-author with Dr Colin A. Ross, (2009) Trauma Model Therapy: A Treatment Approach for Trauma, Dissociation and Complex Comorbidity, Manitou Inc.

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