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Janina Fisher — Healing the Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivors: Overcoming Self-Alienation

Healing the Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivors: Overcoming Self-Alienation , a 2019 Cape Cod Institute workshop led by Janina Fisher
July 22-26, 2019

Janina Fisher

Healing the Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivors: Overcoming Self-Alienation
July 22-26, 2019

*This course is at capacity. We can notify you if space opens up.

Childhood abuse necessitates self-alienation:  we must disown that humiliating “bad child” and work harder to be the “good child” acceptable to our attachment figures. In the end, we survive trauma at the cost of disowning and dissociating from our most wounded selves. While longing to be feel safe and welcome, traumatized individuals find themselves in conflict: alternating between clinging to others and pushing them away, hating themselves or hating others, yearning to be seen while trying to be invisible. Years later, these clients present in therapy with symptoms of anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, diagnoses of bipolar and borderline personality disorder, and a distorted or absent sense of identity.   

This workshop offers a practical hand’s on approach to traumatized clients with underlying issues of self-alienation and self-hatred by helping them to recognize how the trauma has left them fragmented and at war within their own minds and bodies. Participants will learn how to help their clients observe the parts they have embraced and identified with as ‘me’ and the trauma-related parts they have disowned and judged harshly. Using interventions drawn from a number of therapeutic approaches (including Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Internal Family Systems, and ego state therapy), the focus is on helping clients observe and accept all aspects of self with interest and curiosity. As their young parts are identified and understood as ‘heroes’ in the individual’s story of survival, clients are able to feel more warmly toward them, often for the first time. Techniques will be demonstrated that increase the capacity to feel for and with each part, that foster the sense of caring for young wounded selves, and that pave the way for growing “earned secure attachment.” Even when our clients are unable to tolerate emotion, extend themselves compassion, or take in someone else’s caring, they can still learn to feel protective of their younger selves and even learn to welcome home their ‘lost souls’ with warmth and compassion.


Trauma and self-alienation: the costs and benefits of disowning one’s traumatized child selves as a survival strategy.  Introduction to the Structural Dissociation model as a trauma-related explanatory model for understanding chronic chaos, resistance, and self-destructive behavior. 


Befriending our disowned selves: using mindfulness-based techniques drawn from Internal Family Systems and Sensorimotor Psychotherapy to build client interest and curiosity in their split-off emotions, vulnerability, and self-destructive behavior.


Increasing self-compassion by cultivating compassion for younger parts of the individual: learning to appreciate each part’s contribution, to ask, “How did this part help me to survive? Without it, what would have happened?”



Transforming traumatic memory:  by teaching clients how to connect emotionally to their wounded child selves and provide reparative or “missing” experiences.  


Building internal self-attachment: how to help clients “earn” secure attachment as the therapeutic outcome of creating internal acceptance, safety, and welcome for each wounded part of the self.

Janina Fisher

Janina Fisher

Janina Fisher, PhD, is the Assistant Educational Director of the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute, an EMDRIA-approved Consultant, a former president of the New England Society for the Treatment of Trauma and Dissociation, and a former instructor, Harvard Medical School. Dr. Fisher has been an invited speaker at the Cape Cod Institute, Harvard Medical School Conference on Women and Summer and Winter Conference Series, EMDR International Association Annual Conference, University of Oslo, University of Wisconsin, University of Westminster in London, the Psychotraumatology Institute of Europe, and the Esalen Institute. An international expert on the treatment of trauma, 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). More information can be found on her website:

What our alumni are saying:

"Dr. Fisher so knowledgeable and inspirational. "

"Janina is a natural teacher and master of her art."

"Dr. Fisher is world class. She is experienced, has great presentation skills, and the content is extremely helpful."