Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches and Lectures


Supervising Complex Trauma Cases to Foster Personal as well as Professional Growth

Event Location / Date(s)

Washington, DC

Document Type


Presentation Date


Conference Name / Publication Title

International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD's) 34th Annual International Conference


Treating complex trauma cases requires a level of developmental attainment that encompasses an extensive capacity for emotional regulation, interpersonal flexibility and skill, and conceptual sophistication. Supervision of these cases, therefore, is most effective when it promotes personal as well as professional development. Based on the premise that most complex trauma survivors present not only with trauma-related difficulties, but also with gaps and warps in development resulting from having grown up in a deficient family environment, Contextual Trauma Therapy aims to foster adult development as well as trauma resolution. Such an approach to supervision necessitates, above all, an organically evolving supervisory relationship that parallels the development-promoting aspects of Contextual Trauma Therapy. This approach deemphasizes pathology and inadequacy, and instead focuses on problemsolving, existing capabilities and potential for growth. The Contextual Trauma Model of Supervision works from a three component framework analogous to that employed in Contextual Trauma Therapy: a collaborative relationship; supervisor-guided practical skills transmission, and superviseeguided case conceptualization. This presentation will identify means of fostering personal as well as professional development in supervisees, with illustrations provided via a discussion between a late career psychologist and former trainees at various points in their careers.