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Creating Trusting Connections Helping Children Who Have Experienced Trauma and Loss

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On-Site / Seminar


Healthy connections with caring adults are essential for the optimal development of an infant’s brain and nervous system. For some children their caregivers are unable to provide safe, healthy connections given their own struggles with relationships, mental health, substance use, preoccupation with safety, inadequate housing, unsafe communities, experiences of intergenerational trauma, racism and marginalization.

When infants and children experience the chronic stress of disconnection, their brains and nervous systems develop in ways that allow them to adapt to danger and life threat rather than in ways that allow for the establishing of healthy relationships and learning. In this one day workshop, participants will learn about how persistent danger and life threat impacts all aspects of a child’s development. For children who have experienced abuse, neglect multiple losses, relationships have been hurtful however we know that relationships are key for healing. How do we help children move from mis-trust of relationships to trust?

Participants will be introduced to the Dyadic Developmental Practice framework for creating relational safety and helping children learn new possibilities for relationships.

Participants will be introduced to:
• How chronic and persistent stress and fear has an impact on all aspects of development.
• How children create adaptive and creative solutions to the dilemma of needing to be close to a parent to survive and far enough away to avoid harm that will threaten survival. These adaptive solutions inform attachment patterns.
• The importance of creating safety in relationships and in organizations and systems that support our children, youth and parents with all of their different lived experiences. Without safety new learning is not possible.
• How Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity and Empathy (PACE) represent ways of being that create that relational safety and allow for building the trust children need to build relationships with adults. 



Sian Phillips is a Psychologist in private practice in Kingston, Ontario. Since gaining her Ph.D. from the University of Toronto she has specialised in the assessment of childhood trauma and attachment difficulties, working with children and caregivers for the last 20 years. Sian is a certified DDP therapist, consultant and trainer. She is also an adjunct professor at Queen's University, supervising students in their clinical placements.

Her vast knowledge in this area, when combined with her interactive and engaging teaching style and thoughtful use of case study material, mean this one-day workshop will be relevant for counsellors, therapists, education professionals, social service and mental health providers working with children and their families, and those caring or parenting children with attachment and trauma histories.


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Compass Seminars is New Zealand’s leading professional development training provider for professionals who work with Children, Young People and Families. Compass delivers more training, in more New Zealand cities, than anyone else in the industry.
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