Pre Conference Workshop

Prenatal, Preverbal, and Preschool Trauma and Subsequent Development of Dissociation

Thursday, March 22
8:30 AM - 4:30 PM
Location: Salon 2

Prenatal and preverbal traumas, along with preschool trauma, are often unrecognized forms of trauma that nonetheless can profoundly impact the trajectory of a child's life in ways that continue into adulthood. Birth trauma, abuse, neglect, and early medical trauma—although often coded in sensory motor memory or implicit memory systems—remain largely unrecognized as the origins of dissociative responses and disorders that severely impair the child. Research increasingly recognizes how aversive conditions during pregnancy, such as malnutrition, domestic violence and maternal stress, can impact not only the mother but also the developing fetus, and predispose babies to exhibiting fear-based dysregulated patterns after birth.

Traumatized infants and very young children can only communicate their distress through crying, irregular and disrupted circadian rhythms, feeding disturbances, frequent and sudden startle reflexes, abnormal or erratic responses to eye contact and stimuli, developmental delays, and even dissociative shutdown marked by staring and non-responsiveness.

            This one-day workshop will review research on early trauma, and examine symptoms and warning signs of dissociative responses. Star Theoretical Model (Waters, 2016) which combines five theories—attachment, neurobiology, child development, family systems, and dissociation—will be delineated as a framework for evaluating and treating early trauma. Communication disorders, processing difficulties, somatic disturbances, and emotional dysregulation based in or complicated by traumatic origin will be illuminated. Clinical cases of dissociative infants, toddlers and preschoolers will be presented, utilizing various modalities (e.g. Sensorimotor psychotherapy, EMDR, art and play therapy) to illustrate the treatment process through to integration. Special attention will be given to repairing attachment disturbances. Artwork and videos will be shown.

Learning Objectives:

Frances S. Waters

Cllinical Social Worker
Private Practice
Marquettte, Michigan

Frances S. Waters, DCSW, LMSW, LMFT, is an internationally recognized trainer, consultant, and clinician in the area of childhood trauma, abuse, and dissociation, and has presented extensively, including training programs in Europe, Africa, South-America, and North-America. She specialized in the field of child abuse for 40 years.
Ms. Waters is past President of The International Society for the Study of Trauma & Dissociation (ISSTD) and has served on many committees with ISSD, including currently co-chair of ISSTD’s Child & Adolescent Committee, and Faculty Director of the Child Adolescent Psychotherapy Training Programs. She also serves on Editorial Board of the Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma, contributing guest editor for the Journal of Trauma and Dissociation, and on the national Advisory Board of the Leadership Council on Child Abuse and Interpersonal Violence.
Ms. Waters is author of Healing the Fractured Child: Diagnosing and Treating Dissociative Youth (2016) and has published many chapters and articles on childhood trauma and dissociation.

Ms. Waters is the executive producer of two training videos, The Traumatized Child: Understanding and Parenting the Traumatized Child, and Trauma & Dissociation in Children that is geared toward child forensic evaluators and prosecutors.

Ms. Waters received the 2008 Media Award from American Professional Society on Abuse of Children for her production of Trauma and Dissociation in Children, and ISSTD’s Presidential Award for her faculty directorship of ISSTD’s Psychotherapy Training Course on Child & Adolescent Trauma and Dissociation. She is a fellow of ISSTD. She maintains a private practice in Marquette, MI.


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Renee Potgieter Marks

Clinical Lead
Integrate Families
Huddersfield, England

Renée Potgieter (Marks) is working as Consultant Therapist and Clinical Lead at Integrate Families in the North of England. Integrate Families is the National Centre for Children with Complex Trauma and Dissociation in England. Renée is a national and international trainer on the topic of attachment, emotional regulation, complex trauma and dissociation in children and adolescents. She is a member of the Child and Adolescents Committee of the ISSTD and also an accredited trainer for their on-line training. Renée is the chair of the Child and Adolescent Committee of the European Society on Trauma and Dissociation (ESTD) and specialises in the more serious and complicated population of traumatised children and adolescents. Since 2016 Renée has been involved in a new on-line hybrid training specifically with the aim to raise awareness of trauma and dissociation in children and provide treatment strategies. Renée is also an expert witness and provides clinical supervision and consultation to different agencies and therapists internationally.


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Laurie Parker

Family Therapist in Private Practice
Parker Family Counsleing
Bar Harbor, Maine

Laurie Parker is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a Registered Play Therapist Supervisor with the Association for Play Therapy. With twenty years of experience in private practice providing psychotherapy to children, families and adults, her training includes certification as an EMDR therapist, client centered play therapy and narrative therapy. She supervises therapists in a post graduate training program in Play and Family Therapy offered by the Family and Play Therapy Center in Philadelphia. Currently she has a private practice in Bar Harbor, Maine.


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Prenatal, Preverbal, and Preschool Trauma and Subsequent Development of Dissociation

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