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Beyond Attachment: A Collaborative Model of Relationship for Complex Developmental Trauma

About the Course:

One of the more challenging problems of working with complex developmental trauma is how to effectively manage the therapeutic relationship. We are directed to help the client develop secure attachment; yet close relationship activates the insoluable dilemma of the client’s history: needing to attach while feeling threatened. Intense dependency, avoidance, and aggression may subsequently become difficult to manage. We will take a fresh look at how to conceptualize several intrinsic motivational systems that impact the therapeutic relationship, and the problems that ensue when activation of one system impedes others in both client and therapist. Participants will be invited to a thought-provoking examination of not only the advantages, but the disadvantages and challenges of using the standard “parent-child” model of attachment for adults in psychotherapy whose caretakers were the source of threat. The over-activation of attachment-seeking in the client naturally inhibits curiosity and also elicits the therapist’s caretaking system, potentially leading to a derailment of therapy into a rescue endeavor. We will explore the roles of the motivational systems of exploration, attachment, caretaking, collaboration, competition, and defense in the therapeutic relationship. Participants will learn practical strategies for managing the therapeutic relationship from this perspective.

This course is based on the recorded webinar, Beyond Attachment: A Collaborative Model of Relationship for Complex Developmental Trauma created by Kathy Steele, MN, CS in 2019.

Publication Date:


Course Material Author

Kathy Steele, MN, CS

Kathy Steele, MN, CS has been in private practice in Atlanta, Georgia for over three decades, specializing in the treatment of complex trauma, dissociation, attachment difficulties, and the challenges of complicated therapies. She is an adjunct faculty at Emory University, and a Fellow and past President of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation. Ms. Steele teaches internationally and consults with individuals, groups, and trauma programs. She has received a number of awards for her work. She has published numerous journal articles and book chapters, and has co-authored three books on dissociative disorders.

Course Creator

Sandi Cardaman

Sandi Cardaman has been a Licensed Mental Health Counselor for more than 15 years. She has worked with eating disorders, domestic violence and clients who are working with the dependency system.

Recommended For:

Counselors, marriage and family therapists, psychologists and social workers. This course is appropriate for all levels of knowledge. This content is at an intermediate level.

Course Objectives:

  1. Discuss the pros and cons of the standard parent-child model of attachment in the psychotherapy of adults with complex developmental trauma disorders.

  2. Identify intrinsic motivational systems in both therapist and client that impact the therapeutic relationship.

  3. Employ at least three interventions to minimize activation of the client’s attachment system, and promote a more collaborative relationship that focuses on mutually shared goals and interest/curiosity.

Use our CE Approvals tool to look up your state requirements and how can help you meet them, or log in to your member account to show approvals relevant to your licensure.

American Academy of Health Care Providers in the Addictive Disorders (AAHCPAD)

1.5 CE Credit hour

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American Psychological Association (APA)

1.5 CE Credit hour

CE Learning Systems is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. CE Learning Systems maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

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Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR)

1.5 CE Credit hour

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National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)

1.5 CPD hour

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Course Material

This material is available to purchase for $45. For your convenience, has arranged with ISSTD to make it available for purchase right here. » More info

References for the Presentation

Exam Questions

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Course Number 102785
1.5 credit hour
Log in for credit hours relevant to your licensure.

  • Recorded Webinar
Exam Fee: $8.96 No exam fee with a membership package!
4.2 out of 5
4 members have taken this course


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