Love is Not Enough: When Traumatized Clients Push the Therapist Away

Presented by Robert Muller, PhD, CPsych on 02-01-2013 at 9 a.m. Pacific

The therapeutic relationship is at the heart of any successful therapy. We all know that empathy, listening, and being attuned to the emotional needs fo the person in therapy makes for a close therapeutic relationship and a strong alliance. But what happens when the traumatized person cannot tolerate closeness? Or when the individual acts out and pushes the therapist away? How can the clinician respond to such enactments? With individuals who adopt a self-protective, help-rejecting stance, psychotherapy can be difficult.

Using attachment theory, Dr. Muller describes transference patterns seen with these hard-to-treat people, including verbal and nonverbal interactions. Using a relational, psychodynamic approach, he considers difficulties such people have in accepting therapist empathy, and the defensive reactions that follow. He examines ways to work with feelings of vulnerability and distancing maneuvers. Therapy techniques include:

  • Resisting the temptation to back away
  • Noticing subtle expressions of vulnerability
  • Noticing verbal and nonverbal emotional responses (such as covering-up, taking-back, and reactions-to prior expressions of vulnerability)
  • Addressing feelings in the moment

This workshop focuses on techniques Dr. Muller developed specifically for this population, included in his award-winning academic book, Trauma and the Avoidant Client: Attachment-Based Strategies for Healing (2010, W.W. Norton). This presentation focuses on clinical technique. Theory is complemented by case examples.

This web conference is advanced instructional level and designed to help clinicians:

  1. Recognize expressions of vulnerability and distancing maneuvers in their work with avoidant trauma patients;
  2. Consider the ways empathy can be a “double-edged sword” when working with this population;
  3. Apply attachment theory and the therapeutic relationship as a productive force in the treatment;
  4. Recognize characteristics of avoidant attachment among adults with trauma histories.

If you have any questions about this web conference or would like more information, please contact us here.

How the Web Conference Works

In short, participants will be able to listen to the event by calling in to our teleconference center. Prior to the event, all participants will be sent an email with instructions on how to login to the teleconference center. This event will include lecture and question and answer periods.

388CE hours and counting!

All are available to GoodTherapy.org members at no additional cost.

Continuing Education (CE) Information

1.5 CE credits will be provided by GoodTherapy.org for attending this web conference in its entirety.

GoodTherapy.org is also an Approved Education Provider by NAADAC, The Association for Addiction Professionals (provider #135463). Of the eight counselor skill groups ascribed to by NAADAC, this course is classified within counseling services.

GoodTherapy.org is an NBCC-Approved Continuing Education Provider (ACEPTM) and may offer NBCC-approved clock hours for events that meet NBCC requirements.

GoodTherapy.org, provider #1352, is approved as a provider for social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) www.aswb.org, through the Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. ASWB Approval Period: March 30, 2016 through March 30, 2019. Social workers should contact their regulatory board to determine course approval. Social workers participating in this course will receive two clinical continuing education clock hours.

GoodTherapy.org is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. GoodTherapy.org maintains responsibility for this program and its content and is solely responsible for all aspects of the program.

GoodTherapy.org, SW CPE is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #0395.

Registration Information

This Web Conference is available for free to GoodTherapy.org Members.

This event has already taken place. An audio recording for this event may be available in the Member's Area.

Meet the Presenter

Robert Muller, PhD, CPsych

Robert Muller, PhD, CPsych

Robert T. Muller, PhD, CPsych, joined the faculty of the University of Massachusetts after completing his clinical fellowship at Harvard University. Dr. Muller has been teaching, practicing, and supervising in psychotherapy, trauma, and attachment theory throughout his career. He founded a trauma center focused on providing help to the under-serviced community. He has written many articles, grants, book chapters, and has authored Trauma and the Avoidant Client: Attachment-Based Strategies for Healing, published by Norton Press. You can read some of his writings on his blog, The Trauma and Attachment Report. Dr. Muller has had an active practice for over twenty years and teaches full-day workshops. He is a sought-after speaker and is on the faculty as an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology at York University. He holds a position as a supervisor for Hincks-Dellcrest Treatment Center. For more information about Dr. Muller and his work, please visit http://www.yorku.ca/rmuller

  • ace
    GoodTherapy.org is Approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. GoodTherapy.org maintains responsibility for this program and its content. APA approval applies to all events listed after May 2011.
  • Logo
    GoodTherapy.org has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6380. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. GoodTherapy.org is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs.
  • Logo
    This course has been approved by GoodTherapy.org, as a NAADAC Approved Education Provider, for educational credits. NAADAC Provider #135463. GoodTherapy.org is responsible for all aspects of their programming.
  • ace
    GoodTherapy.org, provider #1352, is approved as a provider for social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) www.aswb.org through the Approved Continuing Education (ACE) Program. GoodTherapy.org maintains responsibility for the program. ASWB Approval Period: 03/30/2016 – 03/30/2019. Social workers should contact their regulatory board to determine course approval for continuing education credits. Social workers participating in this course will receive 2 clinical continuing education clock hours.
  • GoodTherapy.org, SW CPE is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #0395.