10/21/11 - Complex Trauma and Dissociation

Oct 11, 2011 by Kevin J. Connors and Marianna Thomas

California Southern University’s Master Lecture Series continues on October 21, 2011, when CalSouthern welcomes Kevin J. Connors and Marianna Thomas for a presentation titled Complex Trauma and Dissociation: Phenomenology, Etiology, and Diagnosis. The two-hour lecture will begin at 10:00 a.m. and attendance—in-person or via live streaming webinar—is complimentary and open to the public.

Licensed marriage and family therapists Connors and Thomas will discuss the challenging situations where clients with a history of chronic and complex interpersonal trauma present with diverse clusters of symptoms, relational issues, and dissociative defenses. For example, these clients may meet the criteria for depression, bi-polar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, schizoaffective disorder, and borderline personality disorder, as well as presenting with multiple addictions. It’s a scenario that can test even the most seasoned clinician.

Connors and Thomas will outline a conceptual framework—grounded in current research in neurobiology, attachment theory, and trauma-informed therapy—to help attendees understand the dynamics arising from the interplay of complex trauma, dissociative defenses and post-traumatic stress disorder. They will also offer diagnostic measures to help confirm an accurate diagnosis.

Kevin J. Connors, MFT
Kevin J. Connors, MFT

Kevin Connors is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in Long Beach, California. He is currently Vice President of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD). A member of ISSTD since 1986, he was twice president of the Orange County Chapter of the ISSTD and a founding member of the Western Clinical Conference on Trauma and Dissociation. Connors is a liaison between the ISSTD and the Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma, which annually holds a conference on family violence and sexual assault. He serves as the chair of that conference’s Adult Survivors of Childhood Maltreatment Track and co-chair of the Intimate Partner Violence Offenders Track. Connors is currently exploring the role of shame and powerlessness in clients with complex trauma and dissociative disorders, as well as investigating the prevalence of dissociation among both victims and perpetrators of intimate partner violence.

Marianna Thomas, MFT
Marianna Thomas, MFT

Marianna Thomas became licensed as a marriage and family therapist in 1982, and practices in Costa Mesa, California, where she founded the Living Success Center, a counseling center for people who can’t afford private-practice fees. Thomas began learning about complex trauma and dissociation more than 20 years ago when she worked at an agency called Voices, where she led incest-recovery groups for more than a decade. This experience led her to the Orange County Chapter of the ISSTD, which provides Thomas with an unparalleled opportunity to learn about this fascinating field. Throughout her career as a therapist, Thomas has continued to learn from her clients and colleagues about the effects of early trauma on human psychological development.

Students in CalSouthern’s School of Behavioral Sciences can earn extra credit by attending Master Lecture Series events. This extra credit is worth up to 50 points, or 5 percent of students’ final grade. These points will be calculated above and beyond the 1000 points that make up your final grade and will be added to the “Class Participation: Wrap Up Activity” section of the syllabus. A presentation or workshop can only be applied for extra credit to one course.




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