90 Minute Workshop
Engaging and Unfolding Stuckness in Trauma Treatment Using Embodied Mirroring
Saturday, March 24
10:45 AM - 12:15 PM
Treatment of chronically traumatized or insecurely attached children and adults is replete with echoes of their traumatic past. Triggered memories of vulnerability and pain are fiercely protected by procedurally learned survival-based coping mechanisms. Stuckness, one such protective state poses particular treatment challenges as clients may show up in preverbal, primitive, dissociated, profoundly shamed, shut down, fragmented, confused, looping, or disconnected ways. Resulting impasses in the client’s relationship with self, others (e.g., the therapist), and the world may occur along with blocks in cognitive and affective channels for therapeutic change. Embodied mirroring is a technique expressly created to capitalize on and unfold stuckness in trauma treatment. It involves the therapist exploiting the brain's mirror neuron system by consciously, explicitly, and intentionally "taking on" the protective stuck state through somatic mirroring. Through intentional and conscious body-based empathic reflection and psychophysical empathy, the embodied mirroring technique fosters the emergence of an interoceptive felt sense or a conscious somatic countertransference. Through embodied mirroring (1) the client mindfully observes himself in his safe therapist mirror, (2) the therapist observes evocations of the client in her conscious somatic countertransferences, and (3) a co-reflective, collaboration occurs as the therapist verbalizes and processes her embodied affects, thoughts, behaviors, felt sense experiences, and dynamics. As a result, movement occurs, and stuckness unfolds and shifts. In this workshop, a helpful reframe of stuck states will be presented along with how right brain, bottom-up approaches are particularly suited to transforming these intransigent states in trauma work. The embodied mirroring technique as one such approach along with its underlying mechanisms and theory will be reviewed. The essential ingredients of various bottom-up approaches including Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, AEDP, Play and Mindfulness that inform the embodied mirroring technique will be detailed. Through case examples and experiential learning, participants will develop ways to bring the dynamic and intersubjective embodied mirroring technique to their challenging trauma work with adults and children.
- Recognize how "stuck states" in trauma treatment present ideal entry points for healing work
- Examine how the embodied mirroring technique engages the brain's mirror neuron system to enable the therapist to evoke a conscious somatic countertransference
- Identify how client and therapist working intersubjectively using the embodied mirroring technique helps reveal the client's “unthought knowns” essential to their survival and healing.
- Define at least eight elements from various bottom-up therapies which inform the embodied mirroring technique and facilitate a deeper client-therapist connection and enable transformation