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Digital Seminar

Stabilizing Unsafe Behavior: Suicide & Self-Injury

Janina Fisher, PhD
1 Hour 33 Minutes
Audio and Video
Jun 02, 2014
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Digital Seminar
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Childhood trauma and neglect leave survivors with a legacy of overwhelming memories and emotions but also a compromised nervous system that impairs their capacity to tolerate the normal ups and downs of life.   Unaware that their intense reactions are driven by implicit traumatic memories lodged in the body, these clients resort to desperate measures: addictive behavior and self-harm to numb the body or increase hypervigilance, suicidal ideation to restore a sense of control over their lives and painful emotions, dissociative and borderline responses of fight and flight when hurt, threatened, or rejected.   Rather than offering a context for healing the effects of childhood trauma, therapy becomes a crisis center whose goal it is simply to ensure the client’s safety.  

Recent developments in neuroscience research and the evolution of new treatment techniques offer some hopeful answers to these puzzling and frustrating challenges.  Ironically, the survival responses that preserve sanity under threat do not diminish once the danger is past.  Instead, they continue to drive the symptoms for decades after the events are over, interfering with functioning, relationships, and therapeutic treatment.

This presentation will use a neurobiological lens for looking at traumatized individuals carrying a range of diagnoses troubled by addiction, self-destructive and suicidal behavior.  We will explore the implications of a neuroscientifically-informed perspective on treatment and present the latest advances in effective interventions. When the trauma symptoms are “decoded” in this way, stuck, self-destructive, and therapy-destructive presentations become more understandable and manageable.


- PESI Australia, in collaboration with PESI in the USA, offers quality online continuing professional development events from the leaders in the field at a standard recognized by professional associations including psychology, social work, occupational therapy, alcohol and drug professionals, counselling and psychotherapy. On completion of the training, a Professional Development Certificate is issued after the individual has answered and submitted a quiz and course evaluation. This online program is worth 1.5 hours CPD for points calculation by your association.



Janina Fisher, PhD's Profile

Janina Fisher, PhD Related seminars and products

Janina Fisher, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist and former instructor at The Trauma Center, a research and treatment center founded by Bessel van der Kolk. Known as an expert on the treatment of trauma, Dr. Fisher has also been treating individuals, couples, and families since 1980.

She is past president of the New England Society for the Treatment of Trauma and Dissociation, an EMDR International Association Credit Provider, Assistant Educational Director of the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute, and a former Instructor, at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Fisher lectures and teaches nationally and internationally on topics related to the integration of the neurobiological research and newer trauma treatment paradigms into traditional therapeutic modalities.

She is co-author with Pat Ogden of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy: Interventions for Attachment and Trauma (2015) and author of Healing the Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivors: Overcoming Internal Self-Alienation (2017) and the forthcoming book, Working with the Neurobiological Legacy of Trauma (in press).


Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Dr. Janina Fisher has an employment relationship with the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute. She is a consultant for Khiron House Clinics and the Massachusetts Department of MH Restraint and Seclusion Initiative. Dr. Fisher receives royalties as a published author. She receives a speaking honorarium, recording royalties and book royalties from Psychotherapy Networker and PESI, Inc. Dr. Fisher has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.
Non-financial: Dr. Janina Fisher is on the advisory board for the Trauma Research Foundation. She is a patron of the Bowlby Center.


  • Describe the implications of the neuroscience research for understanding and treating traumatized individuals
  • Identify the neurobiological causes of self-destructive behavior
  • Integrate mindfulness-based therapy techniques into the treatment
  • Select appropriate interventions for stabilizing addictive and self-destructive symptoms and behavior


  • Unsafe behavior and the neurobiology of trauma
  • Changing the client’s relationship to impulsive suicidal and self-destructive behavior
  • Somatic and cognitive-behavioral interventions for stabilization

Target Audience

Psychologists, Counselors, Social Workers, Case Managers, Addiction Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists, Nurses, and other Mental Health Professionals

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