Introduction to Complex Trauma

Complex Trauma

 Complex trauma, refers to repeated exposure to threat of violence, including domestic violence (as victim or witness), and childhood abuse. This workshop particularly focuses on complex interpersonal developmental trauma related to childhood maltreatment. Reactions to these experiences appear to be much more complicated and are often classified in terms of cumulative trauma disorder.  

Emotion-Focused Therapy for Complex Trauma

Emotion-Focused Therapy for Trauma (EFTT) is based on an empirically-verified model that identifies steps in the process of resolving past relational issues. This model has more than twenty years of research involving clinical trials, observation and analysis of therapy sessions, as well as extensive clinical experience which demonstrates its effectiveness for healing complex trauma. Successful therapy requires helping clients access and explore painful feelings in order to modify maladaptive emotions. This two-day workshop is designed for practitioners who have no prior exposure to Emotion-Focused Therapy.


Sandra Paivio, PhD., C. Psych, is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Psychology,  University of Windsor.  She maintains a private practice in Toronto, Canada. She is one of the developers of emotion-focused therapy, particularly applied to complex trauma (EFTT), has conducted clinical trials evaluating the efficacy and processes of change in EFTT, and is author of numerous publications on trauma and psychotherapy. These include Emotion-Focused Therapy for Complex Trauma (with Antonio Pascual-Leone) and a forthcoming book (with Lynne Angus) on Narrative Processes in Emotion-focused Therapy for Trauma. Dr. Paivio is featured in several videotapes published by the American Psychological Association, and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Trauma Section of the Canadian Psychological Association (2014) for her contributions to research and training in treatment for complex trauma. 

Workshop Description

Day one begins with material on the nature of complex trauma and the central roles of attachment relationships and emotional processes in the development of disturbance. The workshop will present the EFTT treatment model and how EFTT addresses central features of disturbance, as well as distinctive features and advantages of EFTT compared to other treatment approaches.  This will be followed by intervention guidelines for the different phases and tasks of therapy.  These include guidelines for cultivating and maintaining a safe and empathic therapeutic relationship, for assessing and responding to core emotional processes (including  avoidance and emotion dysregulation), and for promoting exploration and construction of new meaning. 

Day two focuses on strategies (including alternatives to chair-work) and guidelines for helping clients confront trauma feelings and memories (exposure); for reducing fear, avoidance, and shame; and for resolving attachment injuries with specific perpetrators through expressions of anger and sadness.  Numerous videotaped examples will illustrate key therapy processes, and discussion of treatment issues will be encouraged.  

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the nature of complex trauma and the central role of emotional processes in disturbance.
  • Understand the EFTT treatment model and how therapy addresses central features of disturbance. 
  • Understand intervention guidelines for the phases of therapy and corresponding therapeutic tasks, including cultivating an empathic therapeutic alliance; promoting emotion regulation; reducing fear, avoidance, and shame; accessing anger and sadness.
  • Understand interventions to help clients safely confront trauma feelings and memories (with and without chair-work) and construct more adaptive meaning regarding self, others, and traumatic events.   

When & Where

  • 13 & 14 May 2019 (Mon – Tue)
  • 9 am to 5 pm
  • Venue : To be determined


  • $700 Super Early Bird     [Before 13 Feb]
  • $800 Early Bird                [Before 13 Apr]
  • $900 Normal                     [From 13 Apr]



  • Contact Caper Spring