Kathy Steele

Kathy Steele, MN, CS

February 25, 2017


Alexandra Kaghan, MSW

Kathy Steele, MN, CS, has been in private practice for over three decades in Atlanta, Georgia. She is also Adjunct Faculty at Emory University and a Fellow and past President of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation. She received that organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award in addition to a number of other awards for her clinical and published works. She has numerous publications in the field of trauma and dissociation, including The Haunted Self: Structural Dissociation and the Treatment of Chronic Traumatization (with Nijenhuis and van der Hart, 2006), Coping with Trauma-Related Dissociation: Skills Training for Patients and Therapists (with Boon and van der Hart, 2011), and most recently Treating Trauma-Related Dissociation: A Practical, Integrative Approach (with Boon and van der Hart, 2016). She frequently lectures and consults internationally.

Kathy Steele is well known for her theory of structural dissociation. She will discuss ways to integrate her theory into the treatment of trauma. Building on this, she will explicate how people develop survival strategies to cope with trauma. Trauma lives not just in the mind but also in the body as a felt sense. Traditional treatment can be challenging because these clients are often unable to formulate their experience into words and create a coherent narrative; they may be avoidant of inner experience. Because their dysregulation and relational disruptions exist at a somatosensory level, interpretation and cognitive approaches may therefore not be effective in changing their felt sense of early trauma. Steele will focus on the role of the body and nonverbal communications in working with traumatized clients. Based on the Polyvagal Theory, interventions that address the persistent somatic experiences of these clients will be taught.

Learning Objectives

Through participating in this workshop — the presentations, experiential exercises, and discussions – participants will be able to:

  1. Describe the role of the body and nonverbal communications and processes in working with developmentally traumatized clients.
  2. Discuss effective ways to integrate the theory of structural dissociation into treatment of complex trauma.
  3. Delineate at least four somatic interventions based on the Polyvagal Theory to increase regulatory and attachment capacities in trauma patients
  4. Employ at least five interventions that can effectively change the persistent somatic experience of traumatized patient.
  5. Demonstrate how using the Window of Tolerance can increase the capacity of clients to engage effectively in psychotherapy.