Trauma Studies Certificate Program

At Pacifica Graduate Institute, Santa Barbara California, 2019 – 2020

Overview Including Session Descriptions

Over a century ago, the field of psychoanalysis began in a study of trauma, but it then suffered a kind of professional amnesia on the subject. Recent decades have brought a revival of interest in trauma to the point where a revolutionary “new paradigm” has emerged in the field of depth psychotherapy. This started with the “rediscovery” of childhood physical and sexual abuse and with psychiatry’s revived interest in the dissociative disorders, especially Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the lives of war-veterans. But the truly revolutionary discoveries have been in the areas of early infant attachment and the enduring effects of relational attachment trauma in infancy leading to later psychopathology. This includes the centrality of body-based emotion in the actual development of the brain and related to this, the neuro-biological basis of trauma’s symptoms. Understanding these connections leads to powerful new treatment methods and approaches including effective new ways of working with the body and transforming dissociative defenses. In short, the field is developing a far greater sensitivity to the vicissitudes of trauma than its founders could ever have imagined.

While remaining faithful to a depth psychological perspective which honors the unconscious, its symbolic images, and the sometimes “spiritual” experience and dimension of these, this program will broaden the focus to include many other facts of contemporary trauma research and therapy. These include: the unconscious processes and communications encoded in the body and how to gain access to the “implicit self” hiding beneath the words of the therapy hour (Ogden); the way dissociation alters consciousness along dimensions of time, thought, body, and emotion and how to intervene at different levels of dissociation (Lanius); the ways Attachment Theory and affective neuro-science have opened our understanding of the subtle relational aspects of regulation and co-regulation in the therapy dyad (Schore); the new-found realities of environmental, inter-generational and cultural trauma and how these collective realities are impacting us on a personal level, complicating our one-on-one efforts in the consulting room (Brewster, Kiehl and Cambray); the mysterious spiritual realities that are opened and catalyzed in some trauma survivors, including synchronicity, paranormal abilities, mystical experiences and other anomalous phenomena (Kripal, Cambray, Krohn); and finally the important perspective of Buddhism on the traumas of everyday life—including life’s impermanence—and how this perspective, including its emphasis on mindfulness, contributes to the healing of trauma (Epstein).

In each session of the program, Donald Kalsched will present a brief introduction to his own work as a “framework” for how the current presenter’s models might be integrated with a depth psychological understanding. He will also engage each presenter in dialogue, exploring the important intersections between the inner structural and symbolic understanding of depth psychology on the one hand and the contemporary practical treatment approaches, research findings, and cultural/collective orientations brought by the presenters, on the other. The scope of this program offers a deep and comprehensive framework for exploring trauma, its impact, and its repercussions on the lives of us all.


Session One: Mind, Brain and Body in the Understanding and Healing of Trauma
Donald Kalsched, Pat Ogden and Ruth Lanius (Sept. 5-8, 2019)

Session Two: The Inner World of Early Childhood Trauma
Donald Kalsched, Allan Schore and Mark Epstein (November 4-7, 2019)

Session Three: Environmental, Inter-Generational and Cultural Trauma
Donald Kalsched, Fanny Brewster, Jeffrey Kiehl and Joseph Cambray (February 28- March 1, 2020)

Session Four: Synchronicity, Spirituality and Anomalous Experience in the Healing of Trauma
Donald Kalsched, Joseph Cambray, Jeffrey Kripal and Elizabeth Krohn (May 4-6, 2020)