Robert T. Muller, PhD, C.Psych

The Therapeutic Relationship is Your Most Powerful Tool (& Biggest Pitfall): Relational Strategies to Effectively Treat Challenging Clients

A 1-Day Intensive Professional Training with
Robert T. Muller PhD CPsych

Trauma and the Struggle to Open Up: From Avoidance to Recovery and Growth

Special Offer! Registration includes a FREE copy of Rob's new book:

Trauma and the Struggle to Open Up: From Avoidance to Recovery and Growth
(RRP $54.95 USD) - published July 2018 - see book reviews at bottom of page

6 CPD hours

5 CPD points

6 CPD hours

APS: Activities do not need endorsement by APS. Members can accrue 6 Active hours

Workshop Description

This practical workshop, led by Dr Robert T. Muller, a leading expert on trauma therapy and globally-acclaimed author of the psychotherapy bestseller: Trauma & the Avoidant Client–is aimed at building your understanding of the psychotherapeutic relationship with challenging clients, particularly trauma clients. All clients present with some degree of traumatic affect, making this workshop suitable for all practitioners.

While many of us try to maintain a good therapeutic relationship, this can be difficult. Trauma clients struggle to trust the therapist; many minimise their own traumatic experiences, or become help-rejecting. Others rush into the work, seeking a "quick fix," despite a long history of interpersonal trauma.

Through the lens of attachment theory, using a relational, integrative approach, Dr Muller follows the ups and downs of the therapy relationship with trauma survivors. How do we tell when we've unknowingly compromised safety in the relationship? What happens to the relationship when clients or therapists rush into the process, and how can this be addressed? And how can subtle conflicts in the relationship become useful in treatment? Dr Muller points to the different choices therapists make in navigating the relationship. In trauma therapy, those choices have a strong impact on outcome.

Recovering from trauma is a complicated process. When people reveal too much, too soon, they may feel worse. The pacing of therapy is critical. Here too, the key is in the therapist-client relationship. Dr Muller walks you through the relational approaches that help pace the process of opening up – so that people find the experience helpful, not harmful.

Throughout the workshop, theory is complemented by case examples, practical exercises, and segments from Dr Muller's own treatment sessions. This workshop focuses on clinical skills that are directly applicable in your work as therapists. You will learn specific skills to ensure ethical practice with all clients.

You Will Learn How To:

This workshop provides integrative training to help practitioners across different therapeutic modalities. Skills are practical and highly applicable. Participants learn how to:

  1. Navigate and use conflicts in the relationship;
  2. Bring safety to the therapeutic relationship early on;
  3. Help clients pace the process of opening up;
  4. Recognise their own (therapist) feelings in the treatment (eg, the wish to rush into trauma work, or the wish to avoid it); and
  5. Help clients mourn traumatic losses to bring post-traumatic growth.
  6. Note: Workshop registration includes a copy of Dr. Muller's new book: Trauma & the Struggle to Open Up: From Avoidance to Recovery & Growth. The book complements the workshop, providing material for attendees to further their learning.

Detailed Syllabus

  1. Opening up about the trauma: A relational process
    • When the expectation is to stay silent about the past: You mustn't tell anyone!
      • Guarding the family secret
      • When loyalty prevails
      • How clients protect themselves from their own history
    • How trauma stories "leak out" with the therapist
      • Trauma fragments appear unannounced
      • Clients only want to stay silent for so long
    • Client avoidance of the past, painful feelings, and relationships
      • It's hard to show vulnerability, even with the therapist
    • Mutual avoidance: When client and therapist avoid: This trauma is too scary to handle!
  2. How to pace the process of opening up (considering many clients have limited access to funds): The dangers of rushing into trauma work yet providing encouragement to open up once the therapeutic relationship is prepared
    • When the client rushes in:
      • Strategies to provide containment
      • When the client rushes to forgive the perpetrator
    • When the therapist rushes into trauma work, and unknowingly undermines the process
      • Wanting to rescue the client brings the "quick fix"
      • Therapists export the "quick fix"
  3. Strategies to bring a sense of safety to the therapeutic relationship
    • Taking the client's suffering seriously: Sounds easy! It isn't.
    • Naming client traumatic experiences
      • When the client disagrees: "I'm no victim!"
    • Validating client traumatic experiences
      • When the client doesn't accept validation so readily
      • Naming and validating client traumatic experiences: A therapeutic process
    • Honesty in the therapeutic relationship: Easier said than done
    • Negotiating change from the start helps bring containment and hopefulness
      • The NAT: Helping the client articulate and imagine themselves as different
  4. Helping clients mourn traumatic losses: A relational process
    • Bringing emotion into the work
    • How mourning brings posttraumatic growth
      • Facing a lost childhood
      • A changed worldview
      • A changed view of self
  5. Navigating and using conflict in the therapeutic relationship
    • The relationship can easily go off the rails: When enactments bring ruptures
      • Ruptures always blindside the therapist
      • Ruptures are a big deal in trauma therapy
    • How to repair a ruptured alliance
      • How the therapist should look inside
      • Relational first response: Validating the client's experience
      • Providing containment around the conflict
      • Helping the client mentalize: Unpacking the conflict
  6. Beyond the trauma: Reclaiming identity
    • When trauma dominates identity
    • Helping clients reclaim intentionality, dignity, personal values

The Trainer

Robert T. Muller, PhD, C.Psych trained at Harvard, was on Faculty at the University of Massachusetts, and is currently at York University in Toronto. Dr Muller is a Fellow of the International Society for the Study of Trauma & Dissociation (ISSTD) for his work on trauma treatment. His psychotherapy bestseller, "Trauma and the Avoidant Client," has been translated widely and won the 2011 ISSTD award for the year's best written work on trauma. As lead investigator on several multi-site programmess to treat interpersonal trauma, Dr Muller has lectured internationally (Australia, UK, Europe, USA), and has been Keynote Speaker at mental health conferences in New Zealand and Canada. He founded an online magazine, "The Trauma & Mental Health Report," that is now visited by over 100,000 readers a year. With over 25 years in the field, he practises in Toronto.

Intended Audience

This workshop is suitable for all counsellors, psychotherapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, health and social care professionals practising in health, education and social care settings and in private practice, and who have a core professional training. It is suitable for therapists working in all modalities.

Workshop Dates and Venues

Brisbane - Monday 29 April 2019
Hotel Grand Chancellor, 23 Leichhardt Street Brisbane

Perth - Wednesday 1 May 2019
Boulevard Centre, 99 The Boulevard Floreat

Melbourne - Saturday 4 May 2019
Jasper Hotel, 489 Elizabeth Street Melbourne

Adelaide - Wednesday 8 May 2019
Rydges Adelaide, 1 South Terrace Adelaide

Sydney - Saturday 11 May 2019
Novotel Brighton Beach, cnr Grand Parade & Princess Street Brighton-le-Sands

Workshop Duration

Workshops run from 9am to 5pm (including refreshments and lunch - included in registration).

Workshop Registration

Registration $330.00 (incl $30 GST)

Included in Registration

Special Catering?

If you require special catering, email: not less than five (5) business days prior to your workshop. Special catering CANNOT be provided without this prior notice.

NOTICE - all venues routinely provide Vegetarian selections, so pre-ordering of vegetarian options is NOT necessary.

Cancellation Policy

If you cancel more than thirty (30) days prior to a workshop, you will receive a refund LESS $75 administration fee.

If you cancel less than thirty (30) days prior to a workshop NO REFUND is payable. We appreciate that medical conditions and emergencies can occur, but CPM cannot accept responsibility for these. Registrations can be transferred to another person.


Your workshop registration receipt will be emailed to you - so please ensure that you provide a legible email address.

Online Registration

Click here to register online and pay via PayPal.

Click here to register online and pay via EFT/Cheque.

Book Reviews

"Erudite and insightful" - 5 stars

Dr Muller's new book is an invaluable addition to my professional library. It examines the nature of trauma and how traumatic experiences affect clients but looks further at the processes involved in building and fostering therapeutic relationships with clients. I was most impressed with Dr Muller's erudite and insightful exploration of the processes involving pacing of therapy, so that each client gains most benefit from a relational style that addresses each individual therapeutic process. The author’s personal experiences in his counselling and therapy work helped me reflect on and improve my therapy with trauma and relationship counselling.

Robyn R, Psychologist and Family Therapist

"Dr Muller's books are truly valuable resources" - 5 stars

As a trauma counsellor for many years and having learned so much from Dr Muller's first book - Trauma and the Avoidant Client - I looked forward with keen interest to reviewing his new book - Trauma and the Struggle to Open Up. I can say that I was delighted and impressed with his scholarship and obvious clinical expertise. One of the many highlights of this new book is Dr Muller's ability to integrate trauma work with relational concepts of therapy, providing a detailed framework from which to provide clients with the insights needed to help them integrate their trauma experiences with current and ongoing traumatic reactions. Dr Muller provides research and clinical experiences that illustrate how to work with trauma clients. His recounting of personal experiences with his clients provides even greater insights into therapy work. I look forward to integrating his suggestions and ideas with my own clients, Dr Muller's books are truly valuable resources for every trauma specialist and counsellor.

Diane McG, trauma expert and counselling psychologist

"This book is a must read!" - 5 stars

For anyone working in trauma this book is a must read. From page one I could not put the book down. Dr Muller provides an excellent guide for using his approach with case studies assisting the counsellor to understand how to guide the client through the processing of their trauma and move to meaningful healing. I believe this book is an essential read not only for trauma counsellors but for all professionals who aim to connect with clients and build an effective therapeutic relationship. Thank you Dr Muller for this compassionate and compelling book. I advise readers to open it when you have plenty of time as its very hard to put down! I recommend it highly.

Renee V Counsellor and Educator

See more reviews at Amazon