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Rosslyn J. Chandler, MAASW, MVAPP

Psychotherapist, Chandler Consulting Services, Surrey Hills, Australia



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Paper

044 – Moving from Dissociative Freeze to Human Connection

Paper Session 2, #2 - Moving from Dissociative Freeze to Human Connection

Sunday, November 29

1:50 PM - 2:10 PM

Room: Heritage Ballroom

Primary Presenter(s):

Rosslyn J. Chandler, MAASW, MVAPP

Psychotherapist, Chandler Consulting Services, Surrey Hills, Australia

The paper will explore how human survival responses, developed in the face of terrifying  threats to life, body integrity and human connection, have severe and rupturing impacts on those subjected to childhood sexual abuse. A clinical case example will illustrate how developments in polyvagal and attachment theory and sensorimotor approaches have enhanced the capacity of a psychoanalytic psychotherapist to work with people facing their terror - terror at the thought of - engagement with another and with powerlessness that activated their original dissociative responses of freeze and submission, leaving ongoing impacts of disconnection, affect disregulation and somatization.


The therapeutic work with a patient for whom, as a child, ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ was not an option, will demonstrate the use of sensitive tracking of the body as an invaluable resource for both patient and therapist in working with the transference challenges of establishing and maintaining safety and in repairing the broken connections to her body, herself, and the other in a containing manner.

The use of enlivening ‘reconnecting’ experiences alongside the therapy will be illustrated, as well as their value in addressing vicarious traumatization of therapists who painstakingly work with those who courageously grapple with allowing the repair of their broken selves.

Learning Objectives:

  • Describe different survival responses and their bodily impacts which can be activated in the face of traumatic and terrifying threats to life, body integrity and human connection.
  • Recognise some of the transference complications which can arise in therapy with adults who have been subject to disorganising attachment experiences of childhood trauma and abuse.
  • Reflect upon the impact of working with those who have been traumatised upon their own health and well-being and review their strategies for professional self-care.