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Complex Trauma and Dissociation in Youth: A Comprehensive Training

May 6 @ 8:30 am - May 9 @ 4:30 pm

Children with complex trauma often present with a plethora of disturbing symptoms, and consequently receive multiple diagnoses, myriad and increased dosages of medications, and numerous treatment episodes, but the symptoms persist. These children often display severe attachment disturbances and exacerbating behaviors resulting in repetitive failed placements, including foster and adoptive, residential and hospitalizations. 

Frequently, the missing link to successful treatment with children of complex trauma is their dissociative symptoms that profoundly impact their mood, behavior, identity, memory sensations and attachments. However, most clinicians don’t recognize signs of dissociation and therefore are unable to effectively intervene.

This week-long training will provide a comprehensive examination from diagnosis to treatment and finally integration of the dissociative child. This training will encompass how to evaluate children for dissociation, including dissociative warning signs, differential diagnoses, assessment process, checklists and interviewing techniques with child, family and other pertinent collaterals with videotapes and discussions. Working with the parents as partners in their children’s treatment from diagnosis to integration to develop effective communication and management skills that promote their child’s internal awareness, reflection and stabilization will be discussed.

A three-phase treatment protocol will be described beginning with creative stabilization and empowerment techniques tailored to learn about and engage the child’s internal world, to expand the child’s window of tolerance and to build self-reflection across all states of the child. Particular focus on how to intervene with children’s self-states that carry the most disturbing symptoms, i.e., aggression, suicidality, sexualized behaviors, detachment will be described. Engaging all of self-states in the treatment process, including trauma processing will lead to full recovery. While from the beginning integrative techniques will be utilized, the last phase of treatment will highlight specific strategies to complete the process of unifying the traumatized child.

Throughout this training, clinical cases, artwork, and DVDs will demonstrate the treatment process. Combining use of other treatment modalities, i.e. EMDR, play and art therapy, Havening, can be easily be incorporated into this specialized treatment protocol. Experiential training demonstrating intervention techniques with participants will enhance their learning. At the end of this intensive training, the clinician will have the knowledge and skills to begin to work with children with dissociation.

Learning Objectives

Participants will learn:

  • How to detect and diagnose traumatized children with dissociation

  • How to discern other more commonly known diagnoses from those with dissociation

  • Specialized techniques to work with self-states for stabilization, empowerment, and expanding their window of tolerance

  • Work with self-states that have disruptive behaviors, and attachment disturbances

  • Strategies for trauma processing across all of self-states

  • To effectively integrate the dissociative child

Our Trainers

Fran Waters, MSW, DCSW, LMFT

Fran S. Waters is a licensed clinical social worker and marriage and family therapist in private practice in Marquette, MI. She provides services to individuals, couples, and families with a variety of challenges.

Ms. Waters is an internationally recognized trainer and consultant in the field of childhood trauma, abuse, and dissociation. As an invited presenter, she has conducted extensive training programs on a variety of related topics both nationally and internationally ranging from a day to 5 days in Europe, Africa, South America, and North America.

Ms Waters has served as President of The International Society for the Study of Trauma & Dissociation (ISSTD) from 2004-2005, and was the Board of Director of ISSTD from 1998-2001.

Fran’s new book has just been published, Healing the Fractured Child: Diagnosis and Treatment of Youth With Dissociation.

Dr. Patti Van Eys

Patti Van Eys, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist and the Chief Clinical Officer of Omni Visions, Inc. where she oversees the clinical and quality integrity of therapeutic practice with foster children in resource homes and residential treatment centers. Formerly, she was the Clinical Manager of Behavioral Health Programs at BlueCare Tennessee (2012-2015) and before that, an Assistant Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at Vanderbilt University from 1995 to 2012. She served as the clinical director of the Vanderbilt University Center of Excellence for Children in State Custody, a center that specializes in comprehensive psychological assessments and consultations for high risk, complex children and provides intensive training to behavioral health providers. In this role, Dr. Van Eys was a faculty leader in the Tennessee Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Learning Collaborative, a statewide initiative for over 700 providers.

Dr. Van Eys serves currently on state task forces such as the Department of Children’s Services Tennessee Treatment Foster Care Task Force and The Tennessee Adverse Childhood Experiences Private Sector Steering Panel. She has served as an author for the Tenncare Best Practice Guidelines in the areas of Childhood PTSD and Attachment Disorders.

Dr. Van Eys has trained extensively at the local, regional, and national level in the area of child maltreatment and child mental health issues. She is a published author in the area of child maltreatment.


Hyatt Place Nashville Airport
721 Royal Parkway
Nashville, TN 37214 United States


OmniCare Institute