Pre Conference Workshop

Shame in Complex Trauma and Dissociation: Psychology Meets Neurobiology

Thursday, March 22
8:30 AM - 4:30 PM
Location: Salon 3

Shame can be understood as an emotional process and as a traumatic state of mind and body. Shame lies at the heart of individual and collective human experience, and as such reveals much about our sense of self, other, and relationship. Not surprisingly, then, those of us who work psychotherapeutically with complex, relational trauma and dissociation regularly encounter shame both directly, for example in our patient's self-loathing, and indirectly, when dissociation, both as process and state of mind and body, provides a partial escape from obliterating shame. Shame as emotion and traumatic state reveal much not only about the nature of self and relationship, but also point toward powerful happenings in the brain and body. These shame-related happenings include dysregulating states of hyperarousal and hypoarousal, and further suggest we would be wise to give special attention to the Periaqueductal Gray (PAG) region of the midbrain.

This workshop brings together two psychotherapists with combined expertise working with shame in complex trauma and DID in both inpatient and outpatient settings (Rick Hohfeler, PhD and Ken Benau, PhD), and two seasoned psychotherapists who will share their expertise in neurobiology and brain/behavior relationships as pertains to shame, complex trauma and dissociation (Frank Corrigan, MD and Ulrich Lanius, PhD). Ken Benau, PhD, a psychotherapist with special interest in working with shame and pride in psychotherapy, will also serve as moderator and facilitator of a conversation both between our four presenters, and between our presenters and workshop participants. We hope to foster an exciting exchange of ideas illuminating different ways of understanding the psychology (including phenomenology) and neurobiology of shame with respect to complex trauma and dissociation. Likewise, we hope our shared conversation will further highlight creative ways to apply these understandings of shame, as observed in the mind, brain and body, to our work as psychotherapists. We intend to pay particular attention to those points of intersection between mind, brain, body and behavior as relates to shame and complex trauma, in order to inspire psychotherapists and researchers alike.

Learning Objectives:

Ken Benau

Clinical Psychologist
Private Practice, Psychotherapy and Consultation, SF Bay Area
Kensington, California

I have been a licensed clinical psychologist since 1990. Previously, I worked in inpatient, residential and school-based settings with children and adolescents with severe emotional, behavioral, developmental and learning challenges. I am currently working in full-time private practice, providing psychotherapy, consultation and training. I now work primarily with adults and some children and adolescents, in individual, couple and family therapy. My areas of expertise include working with learning differences, ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, depression and complex relational trauma. I work integratively, culling from several approaches including experiential, psychodynamic, attachment and emotion-focused ways of working. I have training in the above approaches, as well as Coherence Therapy, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, AEDP, EMDR, and DNMS. I have a special interest and expertise in working with shame and pride in psychotherapy, and have written a few articles and currently am working on a book with that focus.


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Rick Hohfeler

Individual Private Practice
Alternatives in Psychological Consultation (Clinical Director and Supervisor)
Oconomowoc, Wisconsin

Professional Biography

Dr. Richard Hohfeler received his doctorate in clinical psychology from Forest Institute of Professional Psychology in 1986. He is a clinical psychologist who has maintained a private practice in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area for the past 30 years. Dr. Hohfeler has specialized in psychological trauma since 1988 as co-manager of an inpatient program treating survivors of abuse at Rogers Memorial Hospital where he also co-managed an inpatient program treating children and adolescents. He continues to treat adults, children, and adolescents suffering from disorders associated with severe developmental trauma in private practice, as well as with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.

Dr. Hohfeler is a faculty member of the Wisconsin School of Professional Psychology in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he teaches courses in trauma and dissociation. He is a member of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD), has presented at their annual conferences, and was elected to their Board of Directors in 2016. Since 2014 he has acted as moderator for the Virtual Book Club sponsored by ISSTD.

Dr. Hohfeler has provided supervision and consultation to therapists and case managers from a variety of agencies in the Milwaukee area for the past 20 years. His consultation affiliations have expanded internationally through his active involvement with the ISSTD professional organization.


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Frank M. Corrigan

Part time Consultant Psychiatrist
Argyll & Bute Hospital
Lochgilphead, Scotland

Frank Corrigan was a full-time Consultant Psychiatrist in a rural area of Scotland from 1985-2009. During that time there were major advances in psychopharmacology which, unfortunately, had little impact on trauma-based disorders, and especially complex trauma disorders. In response to the high suicidality of this group he trained in DBT, EMDR, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Lifespan Integration, Brainspotting and, most recently, the Comprehensive Resource Model (CRM). He retired from full-time general psychiatry in 2009, which gave time to contribute to the "Neurobiology and Treatment of Traumatic Dissociation (Springer, 2014) with Ulrich Lanius and Sandra Paulsen. He works part-time as a trauma psychotherapist in the NHS in Argyll and part-time in private practice in Glasgow. He recently co-authored the CRM book (Schwarz et al 2016).


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Ulrich Lanius

Clinical & Neuropsychologist
Private Practice
West Vancouver, British Columbia

Ulrich F. Lanius, Ph.D., R.Psych.

Dr. Ulrich F. Lanius is a Registered Psychologist in West Vancouver, BC with a practice in Clinical and Neuropsychology. He has a particular interest in the effects of attachment and trauma and brain-behaviour relationships. Dr. Lanius specializes in the treatment of trauma, dissociation and attachment, as well as interventions for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI/MTBI). Working from a client-centered perspective, he integrates mindfulness-based approaches with EMDR, body-focused therapy and ego-state interventions. In addition he utilizes neurotherapy with a particular focus on LENS neurofeedback. He has a special interest in the use of opioid antagonists including naltrexone and low dose naltrexone (LDN) and their effects on dissociative symptoms and alterations in consciousness, both in trauma and attachment-related disorders, as well as TBI/MTBI. Dr. Lanius has presented both in North America, as well as internationally. He has written a number of articles and book chapters on both the treatment and the neurobiology of traumatic stress syndromes with a particular focus on dissociation. He has recently co-authored The Neurobiology and Treatment of Traumatic Dissociation: Toward an Embodied Self.


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Shame in Complex Trauma and Dissociation: Psychology Meets Neurobiology

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