Trauma and Addictions

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This course aims to explore the nature of the relationship between trauma (especially childhood trauma) and addiction. The hypothesis that addictions are a functional escape from pain (Durand, 1986) will be explored. People in active addiction will often continue to move from crisis to crisis. And paradoxically the tendency towards further addictive behaviour as a response to crisis will be explored. The counsellor is well placed to reflect the contextual stressors that client’s experience back to them in order to put into context or externalise addictive behaviour as a meaningful response to unpleasant or overwhelming life experience.

The internal world of clients will be explored so that arrest can be brought to self-blame or self-hating dynamics. These internal dynamics often go unnoticed but in doing so the likelihood of relapse is exponentially increased.

A relational framework will be used in the exploration of addiction, trauma, and external/internal experience. All matters will be viewed and treated with the client’s capacity for a new and empowered relationship towards their experience. The old patterns of addictive use and abuse will be replaced by new patterns of self-care and understanding.

From this training participants will take with them a change of knowledge, attitude and practical skills that they can use to efficiently enhance positive consumer outcomes.

Expected learning outcomes:

  • Understanding the link between adverse childhood experiences and survival/coping through addictive behaviour
  • Appreciate the range of addictive behaviour – from substance use to behavioural addictions such as problem gambling, to self-hate and self-destruction
  • Appreciate the impact of trauma and addiction on neurological and physiological structures and functions
  • Understand the nature of addictive thinking
  • Appreciate personality dynamics in trauma and addiction
  • Understand the role of avoidance and dissociative functioning
  • Understand the role of attachment disruption on addictive outcomes
  • Understand the role of implicit memory and limiting core beliefs on functioning
  • Explore creative mindfulness based treatment options that address both the active addiction and the underlying trauma
  • Working creatively with hesitance and resistance to find successful outcomes for all clients
  • Utilising metaphor and storytelling to facilitate the change process
  • Appreciate the importance of visioning the preferred future in order to enhance motivation to change
  • Appreciate the active role of boundaries and limits for efficient client outcomes
  • Understand the self care needs for counsellors

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?

This training is suitable for beginning to experienced workers from mental health, counselling, alcohol and other drug, problem gambling, homelessness and respective welfare sectors.