Attachment, Complex Trauma and Personality Disorders A one-day workshop with Dr Gwen Adshead London, 23 November 2018 (Friday) 10:00am - 4:00pm
Attachment relationships provide the foundations and the context within which individuals build their key developmental skills, including distress tolerance and a sense of agency. Exposure to repeated and / or early onset emotional, sexual and physical abuse has the potential to rupture these relationships – placing individuals on a developmental trajectory that is risk prone for additional trauma and cumulative impairment (manifest on the personality disorder spectrum from a diagnostic criteria perspective). The challenge for us, as therapists is that diagnostic classification (for example as PTSD) does not fully capture the developmental and relational effects of complex trauma exposure. Research has shown that psychological impact can reach across multiple domains including attachment, affect regulation and behavioural regulation. At this practical, engaging and therapeutically focussed workshop, Dr Gwen Adshead draws on her extensive hands-on experience in working with clients who have complex needs, to specifically address the clinical challenges associated with complex trauma. Through case vignettes and examples, she explains the developmental pathways that we need to focus on for: a) Arousal modulation b) Regulation of emotions without external assistance c) Heightened care-seeking and dependency The workshop explains how the experience of multiple, chronic and prolonged, developmentally adverse traumatic events can interfere with our clients’ capacity to integrate sensory, emotional and cognitive information into a cohesive whole. We specifically consider the manifestation of so-called ‘complex needs’ and the skill deficits that can lead to symptomatology for personality disorders. The workshop brings together contemporary research and theory about attachment and complex developmental trauma, with a view to informing our therapeutic approaches. We work through practical examples to elucidate common challenges such as forming a therapeutic alliance, managing boundaries and working with re-enactments, when working with complex trauma. About the speaker Dr Gwen Adshead is a Forensic Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist. She trained at St George's Hospital, the Institute of Psychiatry and the Institute of Group Analysis. She is trained as a group therapist and a Mindfulness-based cognitive therapist and has also trained in Mentalisation-based therapy. She worked for nearly twenty years as a Consultant Forensic Psychotherapist at Broadmoor Hospital, running psychotherapeutic groups for offenders and working with staff around relational security and organisational dynamics. She is the co-editor of Clinical topics in Personality Disorder (with Dr Jay Sarkar) which was awarded first prize in the psychiatry Section of the BMA book awards 2013; and she also co-edited Personality Disorder: the Definitive Collection with Dr Caroline Jacob. She is the co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of Forensic Psychiatry (2013) and the Oxford Handbook of Medical Psychotherapy (2016). She is also the co-editor of Munchausens’s Syndrome by Proxy: Current issues in Assessment, Treatment and Research. Gwen was visiting professor at Yale School of Psychiatry and Law in 2013; and also honoured with the President’s Medal for services to psychiatry that same year for her work on ethics in psychiatry. She was awarded an honorary doctorate by St George’s hospital in 2015; and was Gresham Professor of Psychiatry 2014-2017. She now works in a medium secure unit in Hampshire in a service for high risk offenders with personality disorder; and in a women’s prison.

Continuing professional development through seminars, workshops and conferences for psychotherapists, counsellors and psychologists.