When working with survivors of physical, sexual, domestic or spiritual abuse, practitioners need to ensure that abuse dynamics do not inadvertently get replicated in the therapeutic process, while always being mindful of the need to minimise re-traumatisation. As therapists, we are aware that the systematic and repeated misuse of power and control that underpins abuse and complex trauma such as the use of threat, terror, silence, secrecy, shame and distortion of reality dehumanises survivors and renders them voiceless and vulnerable. These dynamics can often get re-enacted during the therapeutic process through client-therapist interactions that assert power and control, appeasement behaviours such as compliance and submission, boundary violations and oscillations between connection and disconnection.

This training workshop, which would be especially relevant for psychotherapists, counsellors, psychologists and psychiatrists, aims to identify the ways in which these dynamics manifest within the therapeutic space and how these can be managed. The objective is to facilitate a more collaborative, non-hierarchical and relational approach in which survivors can truly heal, rather than being catapulted back into trauma dynamics. To this effect the importance of ‘being with’ rather than ‘doing to’ will be emphasised alongside practical ways by which re-shaming or re-traumatising of survivors is minimised, so as to offer a genuine human relationship in which our clients have the safe opportunity to recover and heal.

Specifically, we will consider:

  • The dehumanising impact of power and control on survivors of abuse
  • The role of silence, secrecy, boundary violations and distortion of reality
  • The impact of complex trauma on attachment and relational difficulties, including the trauma bond and how this can manifest in the therapeutic relationship
  • How to manage power and control dynamics in the therapeutic relationship
  • Attachment and the dual liability – where clients are unable to seek comfort from an attachment figure, who might also be the abuser
  • How to work with the fact that survivors of abuse experience relationships as dangerous and terrifying, rather than as sources of comfort
  • How we can create a safe, predictable and consistent therapeutic space to reverse the unpredictability and inconsistency associated with trauma
  • How we can facilitate a more collaborative, non-hierarchical and relationship approach through ‘being with’ rather than ‘doing to

About the speaker

Christiane Sanderson BSc., MSc. is a senior lecturer in Psychology at the University of Roehampton. With 26 years’ of experience working with survivors of child sexual abuse, sexual violence, complex trauma and domestic abuse, she has delivered consultancy, continuous professional development and professional training for parents, teachers, social workers, nurses, therapists, counsellors, solicitors, the NSPCC, the Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Committee, the Methodist Church, the Metropolitan Police Service, SOLACE, the Refugee Council, Birmingham City Council Youth Offending Team, and HMP Bronzefield. In her capacity as a sexual violence and child sexual abuse consultant she has contributed to news coverage on BBC TV, BBC Radio and Sky News, as well as being featured in a number of documentaries involving sexual violence, most recently Fred and Rose (West): The Untold Story(Channel 5, 2014); ‘Hotel of Horrors’ (2014) and The Cul-de-Sac Cult (2015) on the Crime and Investigation Network (Sky Channel 553).

Christiane is the author of Counselling Skills for Working with ShameCounselling Skills for Working with Trauma: Healing from Child Sexual Abuse, Sexual Violence and Domestic Abuse; Counselling Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse, 3rd edition; Counselling Survivors of Domestic AbuseThe Seduction of Children: Empowering Parents and Teachers to Protect Children from Child Sexual Abuse and Introduction to Counselling Survivors of Interpersonal Trauma, all published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers. She has also written The Warrior Within: A One in Four Handbook to Aid Recovery from Sexual Violence; The Spirit Within: A One in Four Handbook to Aid Recovery from Religious Sexual Abuse Across All Faiths and Responding to Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse: A pocket guide for professionals, partners, families and friendsand provided the analysis for Survivors’ Voices: Breaking the Silence on living with the impact of child sexual abuse in the family environment for the charity One in Four for whom she is a trustee.


For tickets head to: https://billetto.co.uk/e/christiane-sanderson-managing-power-control-boundary-and-attachment-dynamics-when-working-with-survivors-of-abuse-tickets-213368