Few clinicians have received training in research-supported treatment approaches for clients with complex dissociative disorders (CDD), despite these clients urgently needing treatment for severe symptoms, including high rates of self-injury and suicidality. In this talk, Dr. Brand will discuss research findings related to the treatment of dissociative disorders, including several studies conducted with her research team, highlighting the promising findings from the international treatment studies called the Treatment of Patients with Dissociative Disorders (TOP DD) studies. These prospective studies show that phasic, trauma-based treatment is associated with decreased symptoms of PTSD and dissociation, self-harm, suicide attempts, hospitalizations, and treatment costs. These studies are crucial to know about because their findings address debates and myths about dissociative disorders.
In her presentation, Dr. Brand will first review the myths related to the treatment of CDD clients and what science “says” about them. She will then share new, cutting-edge findings from a study about the most common triggers and functions of unsafe behavior among dissociative individuals and another study that reveals clients’ perspectives about barriers to accessing and continuing treatment. Thereafter, Dr. Brand will present findings from the TOP DD Network study, a web-based program for CDD patients and their therapists. Next, Dr. Brand will describe the program used in the TOP DD Network study, called Finding Solid Ground, that enhances CDD clients’ ability to regulate emotions, manage symptoms, and stabilize safety. This program also teaches clinicians a conceptualization of CDD clients’ unsafe behaviors and practical interventions that are useful in stabilizing clients. Using clients’ journaling and artwork, and data from clients’ surveys, Dr. Brand will illustrate the experience of surviving trauma by having developed disowned self-states. She will also share clients’ reactions to participating in the TOP DD Network program. Lastly, Dr. Brand will discuss the exciting first randomized control trial for clients with CDD, complex PTSD, and the dissociative subtype of PTSD, which is based on the Finding Solid Ground Program, and has just launched.
- List three functions of unsafe behavior in complex dissociative disorder patients
- List the most common triggers for unsafe behavior in individuals with complex dissociative disorders
- Explain why increased self-compassion is so crucial to the stabilization of individuals with dissociative disorders
- Discuss the primary findings of the TOP DD Network study
- Describe the approach to stabilization that is taught in the Finding Solid Ground program, which is the educational program that was used in the TOP DD Network study
- Explain why clients are taught management of PTSD in the Finding Solid Ground program
Bethany Brand, Ph.D. is a Psychology Professor and the Director of the Clinical Focus program at Towson University in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Dr. Brand specializes in the assessment and treatment of trauma related disorders. She has over 30 years of clinical and research experience, including training at Johns Hopkins Hospital, George Washington University Hospital, and at Sheppard Pratt Health System’s Trauma Disorders program. Dr. Brand has been honored with numerous research, teaching and clinical awards and served on several national task forces that developed guidelines for the assessment and treatment of trauma-related disorders. Dr. Brand has over 100 published papers focusing on treatment of dissociative individuals (i.e., the TOP DD studies); assessment methods for distinguishing dissociative disorders from other conditions including malingering; and the assessment of the adequacy of textbooks’ coverage of trauma, among other topics. She has delivered clinical and research presentations around the world. In addition to assessing and treating patients, Dr. Brand serves as a forensic expert in trauma-related cases including state, federal and capital (i.e., death penalty) cases. Her two books on the treatment of dissociative individuals (“Finding Solid Ground”) will be published in 2022 and her book on the assessment of dissociation will be published in 2023.
Disclaimer: There is no conflict of interest or commercial support for this program.
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