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Course Information

Transforming Entrenched Defenses, Pathogenic Affects and Trauma States in AEDP - LIVE ONLINE

Working with entrenched defenses, pathogenic affects and trauma states ain’t easy. It requires a strong therapeutic presence: leading boldly; co-regulating, psychobiologically attuning to our patients, our self, and the dyad moment-to-moment.

It requires tenaciously advocating and championing our patients’ capacity to heal and be whole when they see and feel nothing but darkness. It requires building capacity within our SELVES to “be with” and “stay with” deep emotional pain, grief, shame, rage, unbearable states of aloneness. In short, it requires “Fierce Love.”

In this two-day course, we will explore in depth the central place of pathogenic affects (e.g. feelings of worthlessness, toxic shame, unbearable states of aloneness) in trauma, and the entrenched relational defenses they give rise to in trauma, and the integral part that therapeutic presence, active engagement, and active relational interventions play in transforming these entrenched defenses and that pathogenic affects that give rise to them.

Through lecture, videotape of actual sessions and/or live demos you will see, hear, and witness how the therapist’s fierce love—i.e. her strong, attuned, leading and constant lending of her self in breaking through entrenched defenses and assiduously championing the patient’s core authentic self—lead to deep healing and transformation.

This course is for 13CE

There is no conflict of interest or commercial support for this program.


SueAnne Piliero, PhD

SueAnne Piliero, Ph.D. is senior faculty and a founding member of the AEDP Institute. Dr. Piliero travels nationally and internationally to teach AEDP to a broad range of clinical audiences. She has given seminars and experiential workshops to various universities and health organizations nationwide.

Dr. Piliero is a lead trainer and a sought-after individual and small group consultant for clinicians around the world. She is known for her warm, engaging teaching style and her ability to communicate complex topics with humor and clarity. She is also known for her powerful clinical work. Her clinical videotapes demonstrate how even the most traumatized individuals can be transformed.

Dr. Piliero received her doctorate from Adelphi University, and her master’s degree in human development and psychology from Harvard. Her clinical interests and specialties are in trauma, PTSD, dissociation, and the ways in which the mind, body, and spirit are powerfully poised to transform them. She teaches, supervises and is in private practice in New York City.


Target Audience:

Psychologists, Psychoanalysts, Social Workers, Counselors/Marriage and Family Therapists, Creative Arts Therapists


Course Objectives:

  • Demonstrate how to be more affectively engaged, psychobiologically attuned, relationally courageous (i.e. fierce love) and make more purposeful use of their own emotional experience in your work with patients

  • Summarize what therapeutic presence really means—being inside the patient’s world and our patients knowing it, feeling it, and viscerally registering it—and the integral part it plays in transforming pathogenic affects.

  • Integrate micro moment-to-moment tracking, a key ingredient in our clinical work

  • Differentiate adaptive from maladaptive affective experience 

  • Discover the central place of pathogenic affects (e.g. feelings of worthlessness, toxic shame) in trauma.?

  • Summarize what we really mean by “undoing aloneness”, e.g. how to really “be there” “bear witness” and “be with” our patients in these unbearable states of pain, terror, and utter aloneness in order to transform these trauma states

  • Develop skills for working with “child/trauma parts” to facilitate self-to-self healing

  • Formulate how to pendulate, co-regulate and provide dyadic affect regulation, essential components in working with trauma


  • Explain and show how to reliably use your Self as the corrective emotional experience for your patients (e.g. through self disclosure of feelings and patient’s impact on you)

  • Construct ways to work with toxic shame and pathogenic affects through “Fierce Love”

  • Discover how to transform maladaptive beliefs about Self and Other through structural rebuilding of the Self and uncoupling dynamics 



Day 1 Agenda

9:00 am - Course Overview and Orientation

9:30-11:00 - Video and Didactic on the key ingredients to developing a strong, embodied therapeutic Presence

11:00 –11:15 - Break

11:15 – 12:30 - Working with Trauma and Toxic Shame

12:30 – 1:30 - Lunch

1:30 – 2:00 - Introduction to participant roles and the experiential exercises

2:00 – 3:00 - Small group experiential exercises

3:00 – 3:15 - Break

3:15-4:30 - Small group experiential exercises

4:30 – 5:00 - Large group Q&A and Closure


Day 2 Agenda

9:00 – 9:30 - Course Overview, Morning reflections and Q&A

9:30 – 11:00 - Transforming Shame, Pathogenic Affects, Unbearable Aloneness through the Therapist’s ‘Fierce Love”

11:00 – 11:15 - Break

11:15 – 12:30 - Clinical Videotape and/or Live Demo

12:30 – 1:30 - Lunch

1:30 – 2:00 - Follow-up about participant roles and intro to experiential exercise

2:00 – 3:00 - Small group experiential exercises

3:00 – 3:15 - Break

3:15-4:30 - Small group experiential exercises

4:30 – 5:00 - Large group Q&A and Closure