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Diana Powell

Registered Psychotherapist, College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario, #001618;

Diploma, Centre for Training in Psychotherapy; Clinical Member, Canadian Association of Psychodynamic Therapists

Workshops and Conferences

(Descriptions were taken from the brochures and/or web sites advertising these workshops or conferences.)

Moments of Meeting and the Problem of Shame

Presented by Dr. Pat DeYoung, MA,MSW,PhD, RP

Saturday, April 2, 2016 George Ignatieff Theatre, University of Toronto

In the first hour, Dr. Pat DeYoung will trace the quality of therapeutic meeting in the history of self psychological and interpersonal thought, noting their convergence in contemporary neuroscience, mentalization theory, and dynamic systems theory. She will use the challenge of working with chronic shame as clinical illustration of her theoretical point: empathic-developmental and interactive-interpersonal modes of practice are powerful and complementary – since both move toward moments of meeting that are simultaneously attuned and interactive. This double kind of meeting is exactly what shame needs for healing; understanding this quintessentially relational malady clarifies for us the nature of relational cure.

In the second hour, Pat will explain her understanding of chronic shame as a right brain relational phenomenon: a felt sense of self disintegrating in the presence of a dysregulating other. Across a spectrum of symptomology, chronic shame is likely to appear in some combination of (1) affect dysregulation, (2) self-deficit, and (3) a dissociative style of personality; these presentations can be understood both developmentally and structurally.

The afternoon will focus on treatment. Pat will speak to the questions: (1) Given that shame is created by repeated moments of failed meeting, what kinds of reparative meeting make a difference to people who suffer chronic shame? (2) Are particular qualities of meeting especially effective with particular experiences of shame? She will close with an outline of points to consider when undertaking self- or peer-supervision of work with chronically shamed clients, with a focus on countertransference challenges.

The final hour of the day will be a demonstration peer supervision session in which two members of the IASP community will discuss with each other and with Pat cases in which chronic shame shapes the therapeutic interactions, and where, then, the quality of moments of meeting between therapist and client become critical.

To Err Is Human: Therapist Mistakes and Therapeutic Opportunities

taught by Janina Fisher, PhD

Monday, November 9, and Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Like parenting, psychotherapy can be only “good enough”. Mistakes in therapy are inevitable, yet our work lives don’t allow us many opportunities to acknowledge and grow from them. Our mistakes occur in the privacy of an office with no one there but the client with whom we could process them. The thought of sharing them with colleagues often increases shame, not curiosity. We may pause to critique ourselves but rarely have the chance to ask: How did that happen?

This workshop examines the underlying issues that most often contribute to therapist error, and explores how what drives us to do this work can also lead to “mistakes of the heart”. Whether the mistakes we make are more clinically misattuned, ethically incorrect, or the result of our own internal conflicts, there is much to learn about both our own vulnerability and what it can teach us about preventing future mistakes and repairing past errors.

Integrating psychodynamic and somatic conceptualizations of counter-transference with an understanding of internal conflicts occurring simultaneously in client and therapist, Janina Fisher will look at complex therapeutic relationships through a different lens. Sometimes therapist mistakes end the treatment or cause havoc from which neither client nor therapist can recover fully. Sometimes, though, our honesty and vulnerability can provide an opportunity for growth — for us, the client, and our relationship.

Learning objectives:

  • Identify common categories of therapist error
  • Distinguish between clinical errors and “mistakes of the heart”
  • Recognize common counter-transferential internal conflicts experienced by therapists
  • Discuss ways of using mistakes in the service of growth and change
  • Develop trust in the power of therapeutic vulnerability to “repair”
  • Utilize co-regulation to restore therapeutic attunement

New Approaches to Treating Traumatic Memory: Remembering, Reprocessing, or Transforming?

Taught by Janina Fisher, PhD

September 29, 2014

Trauma treatment has traditionally asked the client to remember what happened in order to create a narrative, assuming that the client’s abililty to put events into words that can be witnessed would relieve the effects of those experiences. Recent neuroscience research, however, demonstrates that how clients “remember” trauma and how they resolve painful memories is more complex.

In this workshop, we will look at how the research has transformed our notions of post-traumatic healing. Participants will learn a new model for understanding traumatic memory that focuses less on the events and more on implicit memories, the nonverbal physical and emotional responses that persist for decades — even after the creation of a narrative. Using interventions adapted from EMDR, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, and mindfulness-based therapies, Dr. Fisher will demonstrate simple, practical interventions for addressing the legacy of trauma — its effects rather than its events.

These newer approaches assume that therapists don’t need to know what happened as much as clients need to know “it” is over, that they are finally safe. You will learn how to help clients feel the trauma as past experience of long ago, transform feelings of terror and helplessness into a sense of “power back”, repair feelings of aloneness, inadequacy, and shame, and facilitate creation of a new “healing story”.

Learning objectives:

  • How traumatic memories are encoded in the brain and body
  • How to differentiate the effects of implicit versus explicit traumatic memory
  • How to increase client reality-testing by noticing and naming indicators of implicit memory
  • About the difference between remembering, reprocessing, and “repairing”
  • Two interventions for reprocessing or repairing traumatic implicit memory
  • Two interventions for reprocessing or repairing explicit memory

Shame and the Treatment of Trauma

Taught by Janina Fisher, PhD,

May 10-11, 2012, Toronto

Therapists regularly confront the insidious impact of shame on their clients' ability to find relief and perspective after trauma. Feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy interfere with taking in positive experiences, leaving only hopelessness. Increased ability for self-assertion gets undermined by belief systems about worth or deserving. Progress in the treatment or greater success in life evoke shame and self-judgment rather than pride. Despite the therapist's best efforts, unshakeable feelings of shame and self-hatred often undermine treatment: the client repeatedly takes two steps forward, then one step back.

Janina Fisher examined shame from a neurobiological perspective — as a survival strategy driving somatic responses of automatic obedience and "total submission". Using lecture, videotape, and experiential exercises drawn from Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, participants learned to help clients relate to their symptoms with mindful awareness and curiosity rather than passive resignation. When traditional psychodyanamic and cognitive-behavioural techniques are integrated with Sensorimotor interventions emphasizing posture, movement, and gesture, issues of shame can become an avenue to transformation rather than a source of "stuckness".

Learning objectives:

  • How to turn shame into an avenue of transformation instead of a source of stuckness
  • The neurobiological effects of traumatic experience
  • How to help clients appreciate the role of shame and self-loathing in traumatic experience
  • The basic principles and techniques of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy
  • How therapeutic mindfulness can somatically address the effects of shame-related feelings/cognitions
  • Three Sensorimotor techniques to treat distorted cognitions
  • How to help clients decrease fear of positive affect and increase their tolerance for positive affect

Donna Orange

Jessica Benjamin

The Moral Third

Mark Epstein

October 13, 2012; Faculty Club, University of Toronto

Morning Session: What is Mindfulness? The Buddha, one of the world's first great psychologists, made mindfulness the central element of his therapeutic technique. Defined as the clear and single-minded awareness of what actually happens to us and in us at the successive moments of perception, mindfulness has come to be embraced by today's psychotherapeutic community as a useful cognitive and behavioral tool. This morning's session will describe the Four Foundations of Mindfulness: the body, feelings, mind and mental contents and discuss them from a psychodynamic perspective. As a therapist who has been practicing, and writing about, mindfulness for many years, Dr. Epstein will use his own experience, as both therapist and meditator, to describe the relationship of Buddhist psychology to the work of attachment theorists like D.W. Winnicott and Peter Fonagy.

Afternoon Session: The Trauma of Everyday Life Trauma happens to everyone. The potential for it is part and parcel of the precariousness of human existence. Some traumas (loss, death, accidents, disease or abuse) are explicit; others (like lack of attunement between children and their parents) are more subtle. But it is hard to imagine the scope of an individual life without envisioning some kind of trauma. Everyone has to deal with it some time or other. Despite this fact, many people are reluctant to acknowledge the traumas in their own lives. They shy away from facing them, in the hope that willful ignorance will make them more normal. Carrying on as if their underlying feelings of disease are shameful, they stay more on the surface of themselves than need be. The Buddha, in his teachings on mindfulness, saw this tendency toward disavowal as a problem. Always a realist, he made recognition of trauma the centerpiece of his First Noble Truth. This afternoon's session will explore the contribution mindfulness can make to the treatment of traumatic suffering and distress.

A day with Nancy McWilliams

November 17, 2012, Toronto

Overview of the Day

Psychological Wellness: An Elusive Ideal

Psychoanalysts are under considerable pressure contemporarily to state therapy goals in terms of symptom relief and behavior change. This narrow focus reflects the interests of insurance and pharmaceutical corporations, which profit from defining wellness as the absence of observable symptoms and problematic behaviors. It also reflects the needs of researchers to operationalize therapy in statistically manageable ways, a paradigm that has been misapplied to clinical practice. We need to encourage conversations about overall psychological health as it has been conceptualized over a century of psychotherapy practice and in different cultural contexts. Dr. McWilliams will review both traditional and more recent conceptualizations of overall mental and emotional health and will discuss their therapeutic implications.

Self-Defeating Patterns and Their Clinical Implications This workshop will differentiate self-defeating (masochistic, aggrieved) personality patterns from depressive psychologies, explore subtypes of masochistic personality patterns, and suggest ways of dealing with these clinically challenging clients. A case description by the presenter will illustrate the theoretical and empirical material reviewed. The problem of masochism, or recurrent self-defeating behavior, has been an ongoing concern of therapists for decades, through many paradigm shifts in our field. When do certain powerful human strivings - to venerate, to surrender to something greater than the self, to sacrifice one's own well-being for a greater good - become pathological? How can therapists help pathologically masochistic patients? How can they contain the intense feelings that such clients evoke in them so that they avoid acting in either sadistic or masochistic ways in response? This workshop will explore these questions with reference to the literature from clinical psychoanalysis, personality psychology, the humanistic tradition in psychotherapy, and recent empirical work in areas such as attachment and neuroscience. Self-defeating patterns will be differentiated from depressive dynamics, with which they overlap and are easily confused. Moral and relational versions of masochism will be compared, and their clinical implications explored. The conceptual material will be illustrated by vignettes and also by the in-depth presentation of a characterologically self-defeating client treated by Dr. McWilliams.

Internal Attachment Relationships: Overcoming Alienation from Self

Taught by Janina Fisher, PhD

Monday, May 13, and Tuesday, May 14, 2013

While yearning to “like” themselves, our clients often experience a profound alienation from self. Their experience is this: “I don’t know myself, and I don’t like myself.” Alienation from themselves in the context of abusive or dysfunctional parenting is a survival strategy that allows children to maintain their attachment to caregivers by disowning themselves as “bad” or “unlovable”. This deeply painful failure to develop self-acceptance results in lifelong shame and self-loathing, difficulty self-soothing, and complications in relationships with others. Without internal compassion and a sense of worth, it is difficult to take in the compassion and acceptance of others. Without valuing ourselves, it is hard to see that we are valued or insist that we be treated as valuable.

To overcome this alienation from self so that it doesn’t sabotage treatment or relationships with others, therapy must focus on cultivating clients’ compassion for their disowned selves and disowned experience. The first step is the same as in befriending anyone: we must begin by noticing this “other” inside ourselves and becoming curious and interested in how that part manifests in our emotions, beliefs, and body experience. As clients discover their young selves and bring them “home”, they begin to feel an internal sense of warmth and safety that changes their experience of themselves and others. In this workshop, using strategies inspired by Sensorimotor Psychotherapy and Internal Family Systems, we will explore the therapeutic power of fostering internal attachment relationships to both our most valued and our most disowned selves.


  • How early attachment patterns relate to alienation from self or low self-esteem and how this relationship affects adult life
  • Techniques to recognize internal conflicts and disowned aspects of self in clients
  • How to work with symptoms as manifestations of alienation from self
  • How to capitalize on interpersonal neurobiology to increase the effectiveness of therapeutic interventions
  • Body-centred techniques from Sensorimotor Psychotherapy to challenge negative self-concepts
  • How to integrate sensorimotor interventions with talk therapy to foster internal compassion and connection to self

Advanced Webinars in Complex Trauma and Dissociation, Level 4

Taught by Janina Fisher, PhD, September 2014 to June 2015

Principles and Challenges of Trauma Treatment: A ten-month seminar program for psychotherapists and related professionals interested in developing greater expertise in working with complex trauma and dissociation while staying abreast of recent trauma-related research and treatment advances over the internet in a remote learning webinar format. (See below for a sample of topics that are covered.)

Advanced Webinars in Complex Trauma and Dissociation, Level 3

Taught by Janina Fisher, PhD, September 2013 to June 2014

Principles and Challenges of Trauma Treatment: A ten-month seminar program for psychotherapists and related professionals interested in developing greater expertise in working with complex trauma and dissociation while staying abreast of recent trauma-related research and treatment advances over the internet in a remote learning webinar format. (See below for a sample of topics that are covered.)

Advanced Webinars in Complex Trauma and Dissociation, Level 2

Taught by Janina Fisher, PhD, September 2012 to June 2013

Principles and Challenges of Trauma Treatment: A ten-month seminar program for psychotherapists and related professionals interested in developing greater expertise in working with complex trauma and dissociation while staying abreast of recent trauma-related research and treatment advances over the internet in a remote learning webinar format. (See below for a sample of topics that are covered.)

Advanced Webinars in Complex Trauma and Dissociation, Level 1

Taught by Janina Fisher, PhD, September 2011 to June 2012

Working with the Neurobiological Legacy of Trauma: A ten-month seminar program for psychotherapists and related professionals interested in developing greater expertise in working with complex trauma and dissociation while staying abreast of recent trauma-related research and treatment advances over the internet in a remote learning webinar format.

Sample of topics covered:

Implications of the neurobiological research for trauma treatment

"The body keeps the score": the somatic legacy of trauma

Using mind-body techniques in traditional talking therapy

Disorganized attachment and the therapeutic alliance

Dissociative phenomena in the everyday lives of survivors

Working with shame and self-loathing

The challenges of self-destructive behavior

Attachment, Psychotherapy, and the Therapist

Taught by David Wallin, PhD, October 27-28, 2011, Toronto, ON

Attachment research has revolutionized our understanding of human development, the internal world, and the consequences of development gone awry. No other empirically-based theory tells us more about how we become who we are and how to change who we have become. Yet until recently, therapists were largely left to draw their own inferences about the practical application of this growing body of knowledge. In this new, clinically focused workshop, David Wallin translated the research findings into a practical framework that integrates attachment with neuroscience, relational psychoanalysis, mindfulness, and a focus on the body to help therapists become more effective facilitators of growth and healing. He clarified the impact of the therapist's attachment patterns as they interact with those of the patient.

David also demonstrated how therapists can access the nonverbal experience that attachment, neuroscience, and trauma researchers all identify as the affective core of the self. Participants learned powerful techniques for working with patients' emotional responses and bodily experiences and how to work with your own subjective experience, awareness of enactments, and attention to the body to help bring your patients' inarticulate and dissociated experiences to light.

Day 1 focused on therapy as a new attachment relationship, on nonverbal experience — the evoked, enacted, and embodied — and on the liberating potential of mindfulness and "mentalizing".

Day 2 focused on the therapist: Because we are the tools of our trade, no factor influences our effectiveness more than our own attachment patterns. Unrecognized, these patterns are like an invisible straitjacket; once recognized, they can become the single most powerful means for transforming obstacles in therapy into opportunities for insight, inspiration, and change. Vivid case material, video examples, and paper-and-pencil self-reports were employed to help us recognize and make good use of our own attachment patterns as we attempt to be of help to our clients.

Learning objectives:

How to use the new attachment relationship as a crucible of therapeutic change

How to customize interventions according to attachment needs

How to identify and "decode" your own attachment patterns rather than be defined or dominated by them

To detect the mismatches, collusions, and collisions between your attachment patterns and those of the client

How to access and integrate dissociated experience by working with evocations, enactments, and the body

To reach and regulate the emotions of clients

To recognize attachment-based obstacles to dealing effectively with the financial dimension of the therapeutic relationship

Transcending Trauma: Neuroplasticity, and the Healing of Attachment

Taught by Diana Fosha, PhD, 2 days in May 2011, Toronto

Accelerated Experiential-Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP) is one of the fastest growing and most exciting approaches to working with attachment trauma. Its transformational theory provides a basis for putting neuroplasticity into clinical action and enlists our natural resilience and innate healing capacities.

By working explicitly with the attachment relationship between patient and therapist "from the get go," safety is co-created quickly allowing for the work with both traumatic and restorative emotions to deepen rapidly. By viewing videotapes of actual clinical sessions, you will witness the intimacy inherent in AEDP as well as the quantum leaps and transformation that are possible when we meet our patients in this way. You will experience how the process culminates in the release of vitality, energy and creativity that are hallmarks of health.

Diana Fosha, Ph.D., the director of the AEDP Institute, is the developer of AEDP, a healing-based, transformation-oriented model of psychotherapy. With a passionate interest in the phenomenology of transformational experience, Diana is on the cutting edge of transformational theory and practice. Changing how we think about change, she is opening up exciting possibilities for what can happen in psychotherapy.

She is the author of The Transforming Power of Affect: A Model for Accelerated Change (Basic Books, 2000), and of numerous articles and chapters on transformational processes in experiential psychotherapy and trauma treatment. She is the editor, along with Dan Siegel and Marion Solomon, of The Healing Power of Emotion: Affective Neuroscience, Development, and Clinical Practice (Norton, 2009), part of Norton's Interpersonal Neurobiology Series. A DVD of her AEDP work with a patient has been released by the American Psychological Association, as part of their Systems of Psychotherapy Video Series (APA, 2006).

"The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places," said Hemingway. Diana Fosha adds: "There is no better way to capture the ethos of AEDP than to say that we try to help our patients--and ourselves--become stronger at the broken places and to discover places that have always been strong and never were broken."

Integral Incubator

Led by Jeff Salzman, Nomali Perera, Huy Lam, Stephen McHugh, and others; 5 days in March 2011

At the Integral Incubator participants joined with a group of 20 or so high-achieving evolutionaries in an intentional container that was aimed at improving functioning.

The Incubator was designed as a potent combination of:

  • Transformational practices to build focus, creativity, energy and personal power
  • Group experiences to help achieve insight and support from others
  • A variety of intensified work spaces and practices that aid in the achievement of peak performance

consistently and on-demand.

The overall goal was to stabilize higher stages of functioning that light up all aspects of life.