The New England Society for the Treatment of
Trauma and Dissociation presents a
half day workshop with Dr. Courtois.
Death in the Life of the Therapist
Pre-registration is now closed but you may still attend the event as a walk in. Cash or checks only onsite.
Download the event flyer
Death is a part of life of the therapist, as it is for all humans. He or she will be faced with the death of loved ones in addition to his or her own death. The profession of psychotherapy, like many human service professions, often provides a great deal of additional exposure to death and death issues, including existential questions posed by clients about its meaning. Some ways that death might have an impact on therapists are the accidental, illness-related or deliberate death (through suicide or homicide) of clients, colleagues, or loved ones, or hearing about their clients’ death exposure (i.e., through direct threats, combat, accidents, terrorism, atrocities, and even relating to the death of beloved pets, etc.). Exposure might also come more directly as occurs when the therapist faces his or her own mortality due to illness, age or infirmity, or is in the throes of significant-enough life stress or depression to be inclined towards suicide/homicide. Despite this increased exposure, therapists may be singularly unprepared since attention to death issues is rarely included in training, whether in the formal curriculum or at internship or work sites. This gap leaves many therapists unprepared and on their own when death issues emerge and require attention and expertise. Moreover, the role of the therapist and its restrictions/limitations (i.e., confidentiality, boundaries) can impede the therapist from reacting or grieving in significant ways (i.e., the invisible mourner, the shunned colleague).
There remains an understandable resistance among therapists to look at issues related to death. As our work is a journey of therapeutic attachment, death may be the most difficult issue to address. This workshop is designed to explore the risk and resiliency factors for therapists facing death-exposure, whether their own or their clients in a myriad of different circumstances. Self-reflection and opportunities for personal sharing will be a part of this workshop. Self reflection worksheets will be provided prior to the workshop. Confidentiality of personal material will be discussed and agreed to at the start of the workshop.
Christine A. Courtois, PhD, ABPP, is a Board Certified Counseling Psychologist in independent practice in Washington, DC where she is the principal of Courtois & Associates, PC. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Maryland in College Park, in 1979. Dr. Courtois is immediate Past-President of Division 56 (Psychological Trauma) of the American Psychological Association and has recently published a revision of Healing the Incest Wound: Adult Survivors in Therapy (2010, 1988) and Treating Complex Traumatic Stress Disorders: An Evidence-Based Guide (2009) co-edited with Dr. Julian Ford. Her new book, The Treatment of Complex Trauma: A Sequenced, Relationship-Based Approach, co-authored with Dr. Ford, will be published by Guilford later this year. She is currently co-editing another book with him on the treatment of complex traumatic stress disorders in children (Guilford) to be published in 2013, co-editing a book with Drs. Donald Walker and Jamie Aten on trauma and spirituality (American Psychological Association Books) to be published in 2013, and directing the development of guidelines for the treatment of complex trauma. She has authored two other books, Recollections of Sexual Abuse: Treatment Principles and Guidelines (1999) and Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse: A Workshop Model (1993). Dr. Courtois has published numerous articles and chapters on related topics. She is a Founding Associate Editor of the new APA Division 56 journal, Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, & Policy. She is Co-Founder (in 1990, with Joan Turkus, MD) of The CENTER: Posttraumatic Disorders Program, Washington, DC where she served as Clinical and Training Director for 16 years.