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Understanding and Treating Adult Onset Trauma

  • 8 Feb 2020
  • (CST)
  • 9 Feb 2020
  • (CST)
  • 3 sessions
  • 8 Feb 2020, 9:00 AM 1:00 PM (CST)
  • 8 Feb 2020, 2:30 PM 4:30 PM (CST)
  • 9 Feb 2020, 9:00 AM 1:00 PM (CST)
  • The Chicago School, 325 N. Wells St.


  • Registration for audit (active candidates only):
    You are not committed to seminars which you plan to audit. You may audit a seminar-- for no credit and for a reduced fee of $200 per course -- if you are a current candidate and have not yet completed the required seminar component of the training, provided that you are registered for the minimum required number of seminars(three)and case conference per academic year. You may register to audit a course at any time during the academic year. If you decide to audit a seminar, please contact Toula Kourliouros-Kalven at tkalven@ccpsa.org.
  • Once you submit the registration form, you will be considered committed to the seminars for which you register for full credit and at full fee. With good reason, you may later substitute another seminar for one you are unable to take, but this must take place within the current academic year. Any changes must be discussed with and approved by Toula Kourliouros-Kalven (tkalven@ccpsa.org).
  • Registration for half-fee:
    If you have already completed the required 30 elective seminars and the clinical case conference requirement, and wish to take additional elective seminars and/or case conferences, you may do so at a reduced fee: one-half the tuition of a full credit seminar. You do not need to register in advance, but if you can, please do so. To register during the academic year, please contact Toula Kourliouros Kalven (tkalven@ccpsa.org).

    CCP Graduates and board members may also take elective seminars for 1/2 the full fee.

Registration is closed

Ghislaine Boulanger, PhD

February 7-9, 2020

Ghislaine Boulanger is a psychologist and psychoanalyst in private practice in New York City and a member of the Relational faculty at New York University's Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis.  She is on the editorial board of the Division/Review and the International Journal for Applied Psychoanalysis.  Topics of particular interest to her include working psychodynamically with immigrants, psychoanalytic politics, and massive psychic trauma. Since the publication of Wounded by Reality:  Understanding and Treating Adult Onset Trauma, Dr. Boulanger has taught and published extensively on the psychodynamic dilemmas facing adults who have survived violent and life threatening events, and the clinicians who work with them.  

Seminar Title

Understanding and Treating Adult Onset Trauma

Seminar description

Psychoanalytic clinicians increasingly find themselves treating patients who have survived life threatening assaults individually or in groups; or witnessed sudden, untimely, and often violent deaths; or learned of the sudden, violent death or disappearance of a loved one.  Often this experience has led to profound and long lasting psychological symptoms; the survivor has exchanged the sense of a more or less continuous self or selves, for an unfamiliar mortal self for whom time stands still.  She has lost the capacity to experience a range of affects, of senses on which she could rely.  Her capacity both to reflect and to relate has been forfeited.  Until recently psychoanalysts had few ways of acknowledging these symptoms and incorporating adult onset trauma into their theory and practice, emphasizing instead the consequences of childhood trauma or stressing the importance of psychic reality and overlooking the role of historical reality in the etiology of these disorders.  In this course, we shall systematically explore the literature and phenomenology of catastrophic dissociation, drawing distinctions between childhood trauma and adult onset trauma, and consider the clinical consequences of this disorder. Participants will be encouraged to share their own experiences in working with these conditions.

Subjectively and metapsychologically, adult onset trauma requires careful consideration in its own right.  If this position is not clearly understood, those who have survived catastrophic trauma in adulthood are in danger of being situated beyond the reach of effective psychoanalytic practice.


Boulanger, Ghislaine (2007) Wounded by Reality:  Understanding and Treating Adult Onset Trauma. Routledge, New York & London

Laub, D (2014) A Record That Has Yet to be Made. Part 1 pp 47-63.  In Caruth, C., Ed In Listening to Trauma:  Conversations with Leaders in the Theory and Treatment of Catastrophic Experiences, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.  

I am assigning my own 2007 book on adult onset trauma.  Paperback copies are currently available from Barnes and Noble and Amazon, and I am attaching a pdf of the Laub interview listed above.   Laub and Caruth address many of the themes we shall examine in this class:  What is the place of massive psychic trauma in psychoanalytic theory and practice?  How do we understand the symptoms, how do we treat them clinically, and what are we asking of ourselves when we are confronted by such horrifying material?  Although Laub was renowned for his work with Holocaust survivors, his words apply to survivors of adult onset trauma in general and to the clinicians who work with them.  A complete syllabus and reading list will be forwarded by November 19.

"Nothing human is alien to me"  --Terrence

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