Danger, Trauma and Resilience

Course overview

Psychological trauma is usually understood as a disorder, with treatment being sought to rid the person of symptoms of trauma. In this workshop, psychological trauma will be treated as learning gone awry; treatment becomes redirecting the learned response(s) and learning more adaptive responses. 

The Dynamic-Maturational Model of Attachment and Adaptation (DMM) proposes that learning to protect and comfort oneself is adaptive because everyone faces danger at some point in life. Moreover, our brains are evolved to seek information about danger and to generate protective and comforting solutions to endangerment. We learn to do this over the course of childhood. Nevertheless, the learning can go awry when the danger exceeds the individual’s capacity to adapt and there is no one to help. When that happens, trauma responses can be used to get through the terrible experience. But if these are not subsequently updated, corrected, and made more flexible to account for changes in self and context, they can lead to future maladaptation for both the endangered person and their children.

Trauma responses will be described as psychological processes that under- or over-estimate threat. They function as psychological short-cuts to deal with danger at the time when they are first organized; if these short-cuts are not revised, their continued use is likely to result in their misapplication. The two basic trauma responses are under-estimation of threat (dismissing the threat), which can lead to the absence of needed protective behaviour (and thus danger) and over-estimation (preoccupation with threat), which can lead to excessive responding as if there were danger (thus eliciting new threats). Both types of response can be re-directed towards greater safety and comfort through good treatment (or made more problematic through misguided treatment).

This workshop will describe how to recognize and increase the adaptive potential hidden in the symptoms of trauma. Focusing on the original function of the psychological short-cuts can clarify their role. This can promote alternate means of reaching this goal. Such a strength-based formulation of trauma respects the power of learning in childhood: traumatized individuals are seen as actively attempting to protect themselves (rather than seen as malfunctioning after being damaged). Further, it gives individuals a more active role in resolving their symptoms, thus lowering the risk of symptom substitution.

 Another aspect of the DMM perspective on trauma is the complex understanding of cross-generational transmission, in which one generation’s experience of danger can unintentionally lead to the opposite sort of danger in the next generation, creating a complex cycle of trauma. Ways to prevent this cycle, especially for boys who may become violent and for professionals who may inadvertently augment children’s psychological trauma, will be discussed.

 A review of current approaches to treatment of trauma will lead to hypotheses regarding which techniques are expected to change which specific types of trauma. Together with good assessment, this could add precision to the use of familiar therapeutic techniques.

Cases examples will be offered across the lifespan, beginning with transgenerational transmission of trauma in infancy and continuing with examples of foster care, maltreatment (physical and sexual abuse), addition, and PTSD. Issues in these cases include bullying, couples’ conflict and violence, gender differences, and iatrogenic problems caused by mis-informed professional interventions. 

Patricia M. Crittenden has many years experience as an academic and practitioner in the fields of child abuse, attachment theory and family therapy. After training with Mary Ainsworth, she served on the Faculties of Psychology at the Universities of Virginia and Miami. She has held visiting positions at the Universities of Helsinki and Bologna, as well as the Clark Institute of Psychiatry (Canada), San Diego State University (USA) and Edith Cowan University (Australia).

She is well known for having developed the Dynamic‐Maturational Model (DMM) of attachment and adaptation and is one of the founders of the International Association for the Study of Attachment (IASA).

Andrea Landini is a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, specialising in Cognitive‐Constructivist Psychotherapy. For two decades, he collaborated with Patricia M. Crittenden in the development of the Dynamic‐Maturational Model (DMM), co‐authoring with her the books “Assessing Adult Attachment” and “Attachment and Family Therapy”, translating four books of Crittenden writings in Italian, publishing many chapters of his own, and participating in numerous research projects.

He teaches the DMM and its assessment methods in Italy and internationally. His clinical practice includes psychotherapy with adults and adolescents, work with parents, supervision of staff caring for out‐of‐home youth, and supervision of psychotherapy students. He is a founder of the International Association for the Study of Attachment (IASA).

This course will run on Monday 23 April 2018 from 6pm - 9pm

120 Belsize Lane




A 20% discount is available for groups of 3 or more booking together

Like other Evening Programme presentations, this workshop can contribute to the DMM Mental Health Practitioner Certificate. For information, please contact Dr Andrea Landini at fri.segreteria@gmail.com 

Certificate of attendance
Tavistock Centre, 120 Belsize Lane, NW3 5BA
Admission status:
23 April 2018 18:00 to 21:00

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