Self-Destructive and Suicidal Behaviour as a Traumatic Attachment Disorder

Self-Destructive and Suicidal Behaviour as a Traumatic Attachment Disorder
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Research over the last thirty years has demonstrated a clear-cut relationship between suicidal and self-harming behaviour and childhood abuse. In the context of abuse and trauma, attachment failure is inevitable, leaving a lasting imprint on all future relationships. Rather than experiencing others as a haven of safety, traumatized individuals are driven by powerful wishes and fears of relationship. Their intense emotions and impulsive behavior make them vulnerable to self-destructive attempts to gain relief regardless of the consequences.

In this presentation, we will address the impact of traumatic attachment on the ability of individuals to tolerate emotions (their own and those of others) and how self-destructive tendencies can be best understood as a trauma-related disorder. Exploring the effects of traumatic attachment opens up new ways of working with clients who struggle to manage their traumatic and emotional responses.

The suicidal, self-harming client is not at war with the therapist. He or she is caught up into an internal battle: Do I trust or not trust? Do I live or do I die? Do I love or do I hate? Understanding these clients as fragmented and at war with themselves transforms the therapeutic relationship and the treatment.

This webinar series combines lecture and video to explore the impact of trauma on attachment behavior, the value of re-interpreting suicidal and self-harm as an attachment disorder, and how to help clients make sense of their internal battles and better manage their dysregulated emotional and autonomic states. New approaches and interventions drawn from Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Internal Family Systems, and mindfulness-based therapies can transform what it means to treat unsafe clients.

Program Outline

  • The effects of trauma on attachment formation in children
    • When parents are ‘frightened and frightening’
    • Trauma-related internal conflicts between closeness and distance
    • Disorganized attachment status in adulthood
  • Understanding unsafe behavior as a trauma-related disorder
    • Differentiating personality disorder symptoms from trauma responses
    • Using psychoeducation to make sense of the symptoms
  • A ‘Traumatic Attachment Disorder: how does it change the treatment?
    • Transforming the focus from behavior change to trauma resolution
    • Understanding splitting as dissociative, not manipulative
    • Transference and countertransference implications
  • Stabilization of unsafe behavior
    • “Waking up” the prefrontal cortex
    • Increasing client ability to be mindful rather than reactive
    • Re-interpreting impulsive behavior as fight/flight responses
    • Helping clients dis-identify from suicidal beliefs and impulses
  • Addressing issues of clinging, separation anxiety and anger
    • Working from a trauma-based parts perspective
    • Facilitating internal attachment relationships
  • The use of mindfulness-based and body-centered interventions
    • Learning to observe rather than react
    • Using somatic interventions to calm the body and emotions
  • A “right brain to right brain” approach to healing attachment wounding
    • Facilitating internal compassion
    • Helping clients ‘repair’ the past rather than remember it
    • Creating internal secure attachment

Learning Objectives

  • Participants will be able to describe the effects of trauma-related attachment on affect regulation
  • Participants will be able to identify the effects of disorganized attachment on interpersonal relationships
  • Participants will be able to describe the Structural Dissociation model and its application to the treatment of unsafe behavior
  • Participants will be able to employ right brain-to-right brain techniques to help clients tolerate and benefit from psychotherapy
  • Participants will be able to apply body-centered and mindfulness-based interventions to help clients increase affect tolerance and decrease impulsive behavior

Providers Terms
  • Your registration includes: Handout, 6 month access to the recording and Certificate of participation.
  • Registration is for individual use only. Links to live webinars and recordings cannot be shared with others.
  • All payments must be made by Credit Card - Visa and MasterCard only. All credit card payments will incur a surcharge of 1.6% per transaction.
  • Group bookings 4+ people must be from the same organization and paid with one payment.
  • Invoicing is only available for group bookings of 4+ in the same training.
  • All fees in $AUD. Fees inclusive of GST.
  • NO SPECIAL EXCEPTIONS on fees or policies are possible.
  • Student discount on application where meet criteria – download application form.
  • No scholarships available for webinars.
  • Please provide your direct email and contact details for webinar materials / updates – ensure this is provided where an AGENCY funds your registration.
  • Confirmation with your tax-deductible receipt will be emailed within 3 days (contact +61 (02) 9431 8600 immediately if not received).
  • Registration is only available for the whole training. It is not possible to register for particular parts of a training when it runs over more than one webinar. If you are unable to attend part / all of the webinar, you will receive the recording(s) as part of your registration package. Refunds are not available for parts you may be unable to attend live.
  • PAYMENT must be received by the closing date of the registration category you registered under. If payment has not been received by the closing date of the category registered under, your registration will automatically be transferred to the next registration category. If payment is not received 2 working days prior to the event, your registration will be cancelled.
  • Transfer registration to another webinar is not permitted.
  • All dates subject to expiry at 5pm in Victoria, Australia
  • Time Zone: Webinars are scheduled for Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST) from first Sunday of April - to first Sunday of October, when it changes to Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT). Please check your time zone. A link to a time zone convertor will sent with your link to the webinar. Delphi Training and Consulting is not responsible for miscalculations relating to the webinar start time in your area and will not issue refunds due to timing mix-ups.
  • A link to the webinar and any handouts will be emailed to you at the email address on your registration 48 hours prior to the training. Please notify us if you do not receive it for any reason.
  • Technical issues: We will do everything we can to eliminate technical difficulties within our control and we will have a contact person available for technical issues during the live webinar. Refunds will not be issued for technical issues on the attendees side.
  • CANCELLATIONS: Must be made in writing. A refund minus $25 for 90 minute webinars, $55 for 3 hour webinars, and $75 for 6 hour webinars administration fee will be issued up to 7 days (including weekend days) prior to the webinar for which you are registered. NO REFUND after this date. There will be no administration fee charged for cancellations from countries in the South Asia and Asia Pacific Region listed in the World Bank country classification by income level tier system. This applies to countries in the region listed as tier IV - V - VI.
  • All webinar recordings are copyright of The Delphi Centre Pty Ltd and may not be copied, shared or shown in public or professional settings without written permission. Purchasing webinars is an agreement to uphold copyright laws.
  • In the unlikely event circumstances beyond our control result in the postponement or cancellation of a webinar, we will reschedule as soon as practical. A full refund or opportunity to transfer to the re-scheduled webinar will promptly be provided to registrants. 
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Contact Hours:

6.0 hrs


Fri, 02 September 2022

Start Time:

9:00 AM


1 Morning Session and 1 Afternoon Session







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Janina Fisher


Janina is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice; Assistant Educational Director of the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute; an EMDRIA Approved Consultant and Credit Provider; former president of the New England Society for the Treatment of Trauma and Dissociation; and a former instructor, Harvard Medical School.

An international writer and lecturer on the treatment of trauma, she is co-author with Pat Ogden of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy: Interventions for Attachment and Trauma and author of Healing the Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivors: Overcoming Self-Alienation and Transforming the Living Legacy of Trauma.

Dr. Fisher lectures and teaches nationally and internationally on topics related to the integration of the neurobiological research and newer trauma treatment paradigms into traditional therapeutic modalities. For more information, go to 

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