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Working with Trauma, Dissociation, and Psychosis: CBT and Other Approaches to Understanding and Recovery

Though mainstream approaches continue to emphasize biological factors, a large number of studies now provide strong evidence that psychosis can be an understandable reaction to trauma, abuse, and other adverse experiences, with dissociation typically at the center of that reaction.

But even once you understand that trauma and dissociation may have led to “psychotic” experiences, you may still have little idea about what to do to help those caught up in this dynamic!

This online course begins by presenting a science based yet very humanistic conceptualization of the continuum of difficulties which can occur in response to adverse life events, and then outlines how you can use of CBT and other approaches to help people change their relationship with these experiences. Using the methods covered in this course, you will become able to collaborate with people in building coherent and compassionate self narratives even in regard to extremely confusing events, helping to set the stage for real recovery.

You will learn some general principles of successful therapy for people facing these difficulties, and then gain an overview of specific approaches including mindfulness, building narratives, desensitization, understanding and working with dissociative reactions, polarity maps, role plays and dialogue with voices, working with metaphorical expressions, rescripting, and considering spiritual issues.

This course will support you working toward being truly trauma informed, and able to support people in working toward true healing, not just “living with an illness”!

Prior knowledge of CBT for psychosis is helpful but not required for this course. (One option for learning more about CBT for psychosis is the companion online course CBT for Psychosis: An Individualized, Recovery Oriented Approach.)

Included in the course are video lectures, slides with some diagrams, lots of case examples, exploratory exercises, and links to additional resources for study.  You can view the videos and other materials whenever you want, and go back to them as often as you like.  There is no time limit for completing the course.

Regarding CE credits: Continuing education credit is provided by Commonwealth Educational Seminars (CES) for social workers, psychologists, and nurses in the US, and also for licensed professional counselors and marriage and family therapists in some states in the US.. Please check the list at the bottom of this page to make sure that your profession, in your state, is among those for whom credit is available. For those covered, 6 hours of continuation education credit will be awarded.

register now button.sq1Cost:  Just $50!  (That’s 44% off the regular price of $90.)

You can also click the “Register Now” button if you want a bit more information and/or if you want to preview, for free, some sections of the course, including:

  • What evidence indicates a connection between trauma and psychosis?
  • Appreciating complexity in possible causes of psychosis
  • Important relationships between trauma and psychosis
  • What happens when the role of trauma is ignored?

Also, if you are interested in this course and you are a non-professional, for example a person with lived experience of psychosis or a family member, you are welcome to register for just $25, using this link.

Learning Objectives for this course:

  •  Identify possible interrelationships between trauma, dissociation, and psychosis, including ways that psychosis itself, and reactions to psychosis by others, can be traumatizing
  • Discern a variety of possible causal routes from trauma to psychotic experiences, and understand the possible role of dissociation within that process
  • Utilize proven cognitive strategies to address command and persecutory voices, and other common yet distressing experiences found in trauma-associated psychosis
  • Integrate cognitive therapy for psychosis with other trauma therapies to effectively treat clients who have experienced both trauma and psychosis
  • Assist clients in developing coherent and compassionate stories of trauma and recovery which provide a positive alternative to both fragmented “psychotic” stories, and to helplessness-inducing “mental illness” stories.


Continuing Education credit for this program is awarded by Commonwealth Educational Seminars (CES) for the following professions:

Psychologists: Commonwealth Educational Seminars (CES) is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to offer continuing education credit programs. CES maintains responsibility for this program and its content. Psychologists receive 5 hours of continuing education credit upon completing this program.

Marriage and Family Therapists: Continuing education credit for Marriage & Family Therapists is awarded in the following states: AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, HI, ID, IN, IA, KS, ME, MD, MO, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NC, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, VT, VA, WA, WI, WY. CES maintains responsibility for this program. Marriage and Family therapists completing this program will receive 5 CE hours of credit.

Social Workers: CES, provider #1117, 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. CES maintains responsibility for the program. ASWB Approval Period: October 15, 2015 through October 15, 2018. Social Workers should contact their regulatory board to determine course approval. Social Workers completing this course will receive 5 clinical continuing education clock hours.

Licensed Professional Counselors/Licensed Mental Health Counselors: CES is entitled to award continuing education credit to LPCs/LMHCs in the following states: AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, ME, MA, MO, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NC, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, VT, VA, WA, WI, WY. CES maintains responsibility for this program. LPC/LMHCs completing this program will receive 5 continuing education hours of credit.

Nurses: As an American Psychological Association approved provider CES programs are accepted by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Every state Board of Nursing accepts ANCC approved programs except California and Iowa. CES maintains responsibility for this program. Nurses completing this program receive 5 hours of continuing education credit.

register now button.sq1Cost: Until June 1, 2016, the price for this seminar is just $25, compared to the usual price of $50!  When you register, you get “lifetime access” to the seminar. That means even after you complete the course, you can go back and review any of the videos or other material as often as you like, with no time limit.

You can also click the “Register Now” button if you want a bit more information and/or if you want to preview, for free, some sections of the course, including:

  • What evidence indicates a connection between trauma and psychosis?
  • Appreciating complexity in possible causes of psychosis
  • Important relationships between trauma and psychosis
  • What happens when the role of trauma is ignored?
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