2020 Workshop Series

Working with Severe Attachment Trauma: An attachment-based therapeutic understanding and approach to working with severe attachment trauma and people with dissociative identity disorders

Presented by Mark Linington

Clinical Director, CDS UK (Clinic for Dissociative Studies)


This intermediate level workshop will present and use a number of contemporary attachment theory concepts to understand and work with the complex clinical issues emerging with people who have been severely traumatised in early attachment relationships, leading to the development of dissociative disorders. Concepts used will include the Circle of Security™ (Powell et al., 2014), attachment-based systems (Heard et al. 2009) and attachment concepts originating in the work of John Bowlby and others. Detailed examples will be given from attachment-based psychoanalytic psychotherapeutic work to illustrate the application of these concepts and demonstrate how they can help with recovery.

The following will be presented and explored in the workshop:
° Using the Circle of Security™ to think about attachment-based psychotherapeutic practice;
° The impact of severe childhood trauma on attachment-based systems (caregiving, careseeking, self-defence, interest-sharing, sexuality and the relationally constructed internal and external environments);
° Patterns of care-seeking – how are they manifested and how can we respond clinically;
° The two different types of caregiving – what are their features and when are they needed;
° The presence in the psychotherapy of re-enactments of internal/relational working models;
° The potential significance one’s own emotional and relational responses (countertransference);

The workshop will include diverse examples of work with people with dissociative identity disorders, including children and adults, people with intellectual disabilities, and people from a range of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

Level: Intermediate

Intended Audience: Professionals working psychotherapeutically with people experiencing dissociative disorders due to severe attachment trauma.

Max audience size:

Learning outcomes

Participants will be able to:
1) Understand how to analyse clinical issues arising in therapeutic work with people with dissociative disorders from an attachment theory perspective.

2) Utilise these concepts in their therapeutic work with people with dissociative disorders to support mental health and relational recovery.

3) Understand and therapeutically utilise the potential meaning of one’s own emotional and relational experience in psychotherapeutic clinical work.


Mark Linington is currently Clinical Director at the Clinic for Dissociative Studies, where he is also a specialist consultant psychotherapist and supervisor working with people with Dissociative Identity Disorder. He is an attachment-based psychoanalytic psychotherapist with The Bowlby Centre in London, where he is a training psychotherapist, supervisor and teacher. He worked for 12 years in the NHS as a psychotherapist with children and adults with intellectual disabilities, who experienced complex trauma and abuse. He has written papers and book chapters about his clinical work and presented papers on attachment theory in clinical practice at a number of international conferences.