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Complex Trauma and Mental Health


The Adverse Childhood Experience study (ACE study) outlines the detrimental legacy left in the wake of complex childhood trauma. Yet, these early negative experiences do not need to define or determine one’s life and experience of Self. Understanding the impacts of complex trauma and the relationship with adult mental health symptoms is a key step in transforming this legacy. Understanding the impact of complex trauma on the brain (neurological structures and functions), psychology (personality) and on physiology (social engagement, fight/flight and freeze), helps the mental health professional intervene with empowering and transformational results.

The training moves away from passive biological and pharmacotherapy models of mental health towards models that acknowledge the impact of extreme stress, but moreover recognise the natural capacity to recover from such overwhelming experience. Mental health symptoms are indicators of underlying personal distress and as such are acknowledged and normalised. In this training the relationship model of recovery is highlighted.

When treatment acknowledges the reality of complex developmental experiences, and the multitude of current stressors on a person’s mental health symptoms paradoxically client’s begin to feel better. The jigsaw puzzle of their life is beginning to come together. Having given attention to these negative experiences, the therapeutic focus can be brought to bear on 'what’s missing?' What is it that would be potentially nourishing, balancing or corrective for the wellbeing of a client? The recovery of which is incredibly empowering for the client and their future.

Expected learning outcomes:

  • Understand the impact of childhood trauma on adult mental health and wellbeing
  • Learn how to manage adult mental health problems and complex trauma recovery
  • Broadening of the mind from inherent pathology to symptoms as communications
  • Appreciation of the role of secure attachment for adult mental wellbeing
  • Appreciate the dynamics of avoidance and dissociative functioning
  • Learn to work creatively with avoidant and dissociative functioning
  • Understand the central role of ‘pretend’ as a coping strategy for surviving complex trauma
  • Understand neurological structures and functions involved in trauma and recovery
  • Learn how to address self-blame, badness and self-hatred
  • Learn how profound amnesia emerges after complex trauma exposure
  • Learn how to apply moments of psychoeducation in the complex trauma recovery process
  • Learn the implicit use of mindfulness for therapeutic gain
  • Learn how to incorporate the body and the facilitation of physiological states for complex trauma recovery
  • Learn how to assess autonomic levels of arousal and how to settle the distressed nervous system
  • Appreciate the therapeutic power differential between counsellor and client
  • Understand the central role in having clear boundaries and limits for therapeutic gain
  • Learn how to manage vicarious trauma and engage consistent self-care practices

The material for this workshop will be presented in both a didactic (teaching), and experiential (pair and small group exercises and discussions) learning format.

Who should attend?

Experienced workers providing counselling services

$480 Limited GST free / $440
Complex Trauma and Mental Health

<p>{image name:“AASW CPD Endorsed Logo” align:“right” width:“100” height:“100”}<br/>{image name:“ACA-recognised” align:“right” width:“100” height:“100”}</p><p>The Adverse Childhood Experience study (

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If there isn't a class to suit you, please the waiting list.