Wellness: Working with Victim-Perpetrator Dynamics and Disorganized Attachment.

dare4-imamge-smallNOTE: the acronyms “DARe” (Dynamic Attachment Re-patterning experience) and “SATe” (Somatic Attachment Training experience) define the same course program depending on the country where the workshops are presented. The denomination varies, but the course content is the same.

Creative, practical tips for working with your most challenging clients

Do you know someone who:

  • May disconnect or pick a fight when true intimacy begins to emerge often without knowing why?
  • Yearns for, but deeply fears, relationships because they expect them to be dangerous? Scary? Full of Conflict? Confusing? Overwhelming?
  • Shifts moods abruptly and acts out uncontrollable cycles of panic and/or rage?
  • May have trouble communicating clearly or expressing realistic needs in an empowered way?

Find out creative, practical ways to assess and address these patterns personally and clinically by learning about the residual interpersonal effects of living in a chronic threat response due to Victim-Perpetrator dynamics, Dissociation alternating with Flooding and Fragmentation, and Disorganized Attachment styles.

Learn to:

  • Repair ruptured boundaries to enhance a sense of personal safety
  • Uncouple two major psycho-biological instinctive drives − 1) the need to attach and 2) the need to survive threat − that become interrupted and interwoven to block the health and functioning in both systems.
  • Revive embodied aliveness as high arousal states causing dissociation are cleared and discharged
  • Create appropriate therapeutic empathy and avoid misuse of empathy when it triggers disintegration
  • Help clients complete the fight/flight or freeze responses in a way that creates lasting empowerment by discharging ANS over-activation and healing the power wound.
  • Resolve relational approach/avoidance stuckness that may remain long after the original scary or confusing family dynamics are over.
  • Differentiate victim-perpetrator fusion and release toxic interjects to allow experience of the untainted self
  • Understand Savior, Incompetent Protector, and Perpetrator Trauma Transferences and how they may affect your therapeutic relationship
  • Help clients return to their core intactness as they rediscover and embody Secure Attachment from the distress of disturbed Attachment
  • Restore the missing resource of a sense of protection and relative safety

The Challenge

The complex, wounding relationship that exists between victims and their perpetrators can present unique challenges to therapeutic professionals.

The intensity of an invasive sexual or violent encounter can create strong, disabling relational issues for victims, resulting in a loss of differentiation, the coupling of rage and powerlessness or a need to act out the victim and/or perpetrator identity.

When encountered in early life, terrifying circumstances can imprint a Disorganized Attachment style on a child. They may develop Affect Regulation problems, social difficulties, attention deficits, and lack of a coherent mind. The person may become aggressive with others or exhibit a controlling style due to the danger experienced with out-of-control, chaotic, scary or scared parents.

These terrifying and disorienting actions can be:

  1. Communication from caregivers that contain confusing “paradoxical injunctions or double binds” which present the child with unsolvable problems, i.e., “Come here, go away” messages. There is no way to win.
  2. Parents who give conflicting signals that make no sense and have a disturbing lack of clarity. This sets the child up for predictable failure.
  3. Parents who engage in interactions that are too often scary, chaotic, disorienting and inherently disorganizing to the child. Secure Attachment thrives and organizes in safety.
  4. Parents acting out sudden shifts in emotional states. For example, the parent may be calm one moment and by being triggered internally, may be enraged the next.

In the Disorganized Attachment Style, major biological drives are in constant conflict: the innate drive to attach and the instinctual drive to survive. In this workshop we will approach this Disorganized Attachment by working to uncouple, untangle, complete and heal both strong biological drives:

  1. The Attachment System: Intention is to give the Attachment System a safe place to land and separate it from the survival instinct.
  2. The Survival Instinct: Once the person can attach to safe relationship, then they can begin to restore their self-protective responses against earlier threat in the interpersonal field.

An Integrated Approach for Powerful Change

In this interactive workshop, we will explore how body/mind based therapy techniques, Attachment Theory, and a variety of spiritual practices and perspectives can be used in tandem to effectively address abuse dynamics, alleviating unnecessary suffering and reawakening your clients’ joy of living.

When examined separately, trauma healing, traditional psychotherapy, and spiritual development may appear to be conflicting paths. Psychology emphasizes building and strengthening a healthy ego, whereas many spiritual schools focus on dismantling the ego to access more expansive states. Trauma can open us to expansive states that may also be quite terrifying or cause us to disconnect or to dissociate. We need to restore a healthy functioning ego, to make friends with our ego, in order to relax enough into our true identity as remnants of the wounded or defensive ego identity dissolve and are replaced by our essential aspects and our true nature. As we dis-identify with our history and metabolize our story and gather wisdom and maturity, we find a presence in ourselves that can stabilize in the NOW.

In the Dynamic Attachment Re-patterning experience, known as the DARe programs, Diane Heller weaves these three paths – psychology, trauma healing, and spirituality – into an integrated, comprehensive, and dynamic approach toward healing resolutions. Victim-Perpetrator Dynamics resolve toward empowerment, Disorganized Attachment behaviors heal through restoring Secure Attachment, Dissociation moves into embodiment, and Disconnection is replaced by a deepening, contactful connection with self and others.

This creative integration process, which is “body-, bonding-, and being-based”, lands us in our authentic self, orients us toward our true nature, and returns us to our real home.

We welcome you to join us in exploring this relevant and rich adventure on the human journey.


“It’s now been a week since we entered our journey of DARe 4 together and I am still holding it deeply in my heart. There were so many transforming moments, such a variety of experiences shared, emotions felt – both positive and negative – mild and intense. All leading us toward more awareness of secure attachment and what that means to us individually and as community.  I was very touched by it all.

Thank you for being part of this deepening, and for taking the risk of opening your heart to one another.”       Patti

Continuing education credits are available for Psychologists, Social Workers, Counselors (Certified Counselors, Professional Counselors, Licensed Mental Health Counselors), Drug & Alcohol Abuse Counselors and Marriage & Family Therapists.

The following Marriage and Family Therapy Boards accept programs offered by DARe: AL, AR, AZ, CA, CT, DE, FL, GA, ID, IN, IA, KS, LA, MD, ME, MN, MS, MT, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NM, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, VA, VT, WA and WI.