101922: From MindFlight to MindSight

Overcoming the Phobia of Inner Experience in Chronic Traumatization

About the Course:

This course is based on Integrating Mind Body Perspectives in the Treatment of Chronic Traumatization
When chronic traumatization occurs, inner experience (emotions, needs, thoughts, fantasies, desires, bodily feelings, etc.) can become frightening, shame-inducing, and baffling aspects of the survivor’s world. The physical sensations, impulses, gestures and actions that correspond to such inner experience may also be a source of fear, shame and confusion. Too often, therapists fail to recognize this central phobia of inner experience in survivors and are at a loss when standard therapeutic interventions fail time after time. Traumatized individuals develop a phobic condition of “mindflight:” the vehement avoidance of elements of trauma-related internal experience and physical action. This entrenched phobia of both mental actions and physical behaviors is maintained by ongoing dissociation and retraction of the field of consciousness and other chronic avoidance and escape strategies toward reminders of past trauma, as well as by a diminished capacity for reflective functioning. Thus, these experiences remain partially or completely unintegrated. Accepting, understanding, and integrating mental actions and corresponding physical components are thus primary interventions in an integration-focused therapeutic approach.

In this webinar, we will address elements of “mindflight,” and the maladaptive mental and physical actions that maintain it. We will demonstrate both cognitive and somatic interventions to promote “mindsight” through overcoming the phobia of inner experience and by cultivating the capacity for reflective functioning, perspective, and mental and physical integration in our traumatized patients.


International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation

Publication Date:

January 13, 2009


Pat Ogden, PhD; Kathy Steele, MN, CS

About the Authors:

Pat Ogden, PhD is the founder and director of the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy
Institute, an internationally recognized school that specializes in training
psychotherapists in somatic/cognitive approaches for the treatment of trauma,
developmental and attachment issues. Her seminal work on integrating
psychological and somatic treatments for trauma survivors has received
international acclaim. She is the first author of the groundbreaking book, Trauma and the Body: A Sensorimotor Approach to Psychotherapy, Norton, 2006.

Kathy Steele, M.N., C.S., is in private practice, and is Clinical Director of Metropolitan Counseling Services in Atlanta. She was President of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation from 2008 to 2009, is a Fellow of that organization, and has received several awards for her work. Kathy is a frequent international presenter and has authored or co-authored numerous publications on trauma and dissociation. She and her Dutch colleagues, Onno Van der Hart and Ellert Nijenhuis, have written an award winning book that is part of the Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology: The Haunted Self: Structural Dissociation of the Personality and Treatment of Chronic Traumatization, Norton, 2006.

Recommended For:

This ISSTD course is recommended for mental health and allied professionals, including: Psychologists, Counselors, Social Workers, Marriage and Family Counselors, plus any other professional whose work involves providing service to individuals suffering from trauma and dissociative disorders and other academics whose studies include chronic trauma and dissociation in its many varied forms. It is appropriate for an intermediate level of participants’ knowledge.

Course Objectives:

  1. Define mindflight and phobia of inner experiences

  2. Employ interventions that help the client become more mindful and less avoidant of his or her inner experience

  3. Discuss the relationship between dissociation and phobia of inner experience, and how to work with dissociative parts of an individual in order to increase tolerance for inner experience.

Exam Questions

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