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Course Information

Transforming Entrenched Defenses, Pathogenic Affects and Trauma States in AEDP

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 13.5CE

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


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 Content is Intermediate to Advanced Level


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 



3-day (5 hour agenda) for 13.5 CE

All hours shown in Eastern (US) time.


Day 1: Wednesday, January 6, 2021 (Eastern Time US)
11:00 am – 11:30 am Welcome and orientation
11:30 am – 1:00 pm Overview on how psychopathology develops from an attachment lens and the main relational clinical interventions we use in working with State 2 Maladaptive Affective Experience (e.g. unbearable states of aloneness, abject terror, pathogenic self states)
1:00 pm – 1:30 pm – Break
1:30 pm – 3:30 pm Overview on how psychopathology develops (continued)
3:30 – 4:00 pm Large group Q&A

Day 2: Thursday, January 7, 2021 (Eastern Time US)
11:00 am – 11:30  Meditation/Check-In/“Post REM reflections"
11:30 am – 1:00 pm   Working with Trauma and Toxic Shame via Parts Work and Fierce Love Part 1
1:00 pm – 1:30 pm – Break
1:30 pm – 3:30 pm Small group experientials
3:30 – 4:00 pm Large group Q&A

Day 3: Friday, January 8, 2021 (Eastern Time US)
11:00 am – 11:30 Welcome and orientation?
11:30 am – 1:00 am Working with Trauma and Toxic Shame via Parts Work and Fierce Love Part II
1:00 pm – 1:30 pm – Break
1:30 pm – 3:30 pm Small group experientials?
3:30 – 4:00 pm Large group Q&A closing