The Missing Link in Complex Trauma

(8 hour course)

About Part 1


Theory, Diagnoses, and Overlapping Symptoms in Dissociative Youth

Children with complex trauma often present with a plethora of disturbing symptoms, and consequently receive multiple diagnoses, a cocktail and an increased dosage of medications, and numerous treatment episodes, but the symptoms persist. Consequently, these children experience repeated failed placements, including foster and adoptive, residential and hospitalizations. With each failed placement and treatment episodes, the traumatized child experiences more despondency and anger for being misunderstood. 


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


This part one training will provide a description of The Star Theoretical Model, a comprehensive, integrated model that includes multiple theories that examine varied pathways to the development and treatment of dissociation in traumatized children. Core signs of dissociation, differential diagnoses that are more commonly known, but are actually a constellation of dissociative disorders, and overlapping symptoms that are associated with traumatized, dissociative children will be described for accurate assessment. Dissociative checklists, including the newly developed comprehensive Checklist of Indicators of Trauma and Dissociation in Youth, CIT-DY (Waters, 2020) will be elucidated that is a comprehensive assessment tool that elicits information regarding history of placements, treatments, trauma histories and dissociative symptoms. Examples of poignant questions to ask traumatized children and their caretakers about dissociative symptoms will be presented to arrive at an accurate diagnosis. Rich descriptions of clinical cases and artwork will depict the assessment process so that an accurate diagnosis of a dissociative disorder can be achieved.  



Learning Objectives


  • Participants will be able to describe The Star Theoretical Model as a guide for assessing & treating dissociative children and adolescents.

  • Participants will be able to describe signs and symptoms of dissociation in children with complex trauma. 

  • Participants will be able to distinguish dissociation from other more commonly known diagnoses that have similar symptoms.

  • Participants will learn how to interview a child about dissociative symptoms.

  • Participants will learn how to interview caretakers for signs of dissociative symptoms in their children.

  • Participants will learn about dissociative checklists to assist in diagnosing children and adolescents with dissociation.


About Part 2

Effective & Integrative Interventions with Youth with Complex Trauma & Dissociation Part two of this workshop will focus on how to effectively treat children and adolescents with complex trauma and dissociation. A description of principals of treating children with dissociation with the goal of integration will set the stage for implementing specialized and effective interventions tailored for dissociative children. A phase-oriented treatment will be described with emphasis on stabilization that includes creative techniques to engage internal awareness of and cooperation between self-states, manage disruptive and frightening self-states, expand the child’s window of tolerance, build self-empowerment, self-soothing, and self-reflection. Interventions to manage disruptive and aggressive states, build attachment across the child’s states with caregivers, and help parents to appropriately interact with their child to promote cooperation, attachment, and healing will be described. Strategies that promote trauma processing and integration will be described. Throughout the training, clinical vignettes and artwork will depict the treatment process.

Learning Objectives


  • Participants will learn principals of treating children with dissociation

  • Participants will learn how to work with self-states to build internal awareness and cooperation.

  • Participants will learn specialized techniques to work with dissociative youth’s self-states for stabilization, empowerment, expanding their window of tolerance and self-reflection.

  • Participants will learn strategies to manage disruptive and aggressive self-states.

  • Participants will learn how to work with parents to promote attachment with their child across child’s self-states.

  • Participants will learn strategies that encourage successful trauma processing with the dissociative child.

  • Participants will learn strategies that promote the integration of the dissociative child.

Your Presenter:

Frances Waters - DCSW,LMSW,LMFT

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 America, Europe, Africa, & South American, and Australia. She has specialized in the field of child abuse for over 40 years.   


Ms. Waters is the 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 Fracture 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 specifically 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, the 2012 ISSTD’s Presidential Award for her faculty directorship of ISSTD’s Psychotherapy Training Course on Child & Adolescent Trauma and Dissociation, and the 2019 Cornelia B. Wilbur Award for her research, training and clinical work in the field of trauma and dissociation and, the 2019 William Friedrich Memorial Child Sexual Abuse Research, Assessment and/or Treatment Award from Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma. She is a fellow of ISSTD. She maintains a private practice in Marquette, MI.


© 2019 - 2021 - Reproduction strictly prohibited.  Envision Workshops, Inc.

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