Training Workshops

Dr. Mills is available to conduct training workshops or symposia for mental health groups, organizations, hospitals, clinics, societies, and psychoanalytic institutes. He also conducts various courses, supervision, and instruction in many topics in psychoanalysis and clinical psychology. He specializes in the treatment of severe psychopathology, personality disorders, and traumatized patients who often have concurrent or co-morbid disorders. His theoretical and clinical work on the interface between attachment, trauma, and personality structure has led to international recognition.

Workshop Descriptions

One and two day training workshops are available on the following topics:

1. Treating Attachment Pathology

Attachment does not begin and end in childhood, but rather is a contiguous developmental trajectory that informs adolescent and adult relations throughout the lifespan. Attachment related pathologies constitute a disorder of the self in response to deficient, faulty, or failed attachments with significant caregivers early in life. As a result, patients who present with complex and varied clinical profiles, psychiatric symptomatology, personality disorders, and co-morbidity have fundamental deficits in the capacity to form and sustain healthy relationships with others. Many of these patients suffer from debilitating affective states due to unresolved trauma, which subsequently generates personality disorders and severe co-morbidity that manifest on several dimensions of borderline organization. As a result, they are often seen as being treatment resistant or incurable.

Using a relational approach to therapy, Dr. Mills demonstrates innovative and effective attachment-based clinical strategies that are of immense practical value in the training of all mental health professions likely to encounter these population groups. Through detailed case studies demonstrating clinical interventions, specific attention is given to the fragile nature of therapeutic alliance, managing primitive defenses, transmuting countertransference, and reaching the affect.

You Will Learn:

  • How attachment theory informs clinical process
  • To conceptualize and diagnose attachment related disorders in adults and adolescents
  • To identify and treat polysymptomatic cases including personality disorders and Axis I co-morbidity
  • How to deal with therapeutic impasse, affect dysregulation, countertransference, and borderline rage
  • How to achieve empathy, develop an emotional therapeutic tie, and reach deep affect

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    2. Managing Extremely Difficult Patients

    One of the more difficult aspects to clinical work is encountering patients who present with multiple symptomatology, are treatment resistant, and who create negative feelings in the therapist. When therapists are challenged by their own negative emotional reactions to patients, they are more likely to act out their emotions in the therapy, which interferes with treatment success. Strong affective states that remain unrecognized and unprocessed by the therapist will likely be destructive in nature, thus leading to poor clinical interventions that can potentially ruin the treatment. This phenomenon is generally known as countertransference.

    Mental health professionals are generally guarded about discussing their negative thoughts and feelings toward their patients because they fear being judged or negatively evaluated by their fellow peers and colleagues. This is a most unfortunate occurance because it perpetuates a climate of secrecy and professional dishonesty where clinicians either pretend that such things do not exist or view them as inherently bad and unethical. This is farthest from the truth. Therapists are human and will have their own human reactions to patients who are difficult to treat, and who are likely to provoke the therapist, thereby engendering negative emotional and behavioral reactions. Dr. Mills advocates for talking about countertransference honestly among colleagues and in professional settings in order to help mental health workers find better strategies to manage their counter-therapeutic reactions and improve their clinical techniques. He offers concrete evidence-based skills on how to recognize, monitor, and transmute counter-therapeutic reactions, especially with extremely difficult population groups such as personality disorders with co-morbidity. Case studies will be presented demonstrating clinical interventions. Specific attention will be given to dealing with the fragile nature of therapeutic alliance and managing primitive defenses.

    You Will Learn:

  • How to conceptualize and recognize counter-therapeutic reactions
  • To identify predominant counter-therapeutic modes or patterns with extremely difficult patients
  • To manage polysymptomatic cases including personality disorders and Axis I co-morbidity
  • How to deal with therapeutic impasse, affect dysregulation, and borderline rage
  • To use countertransference as a tool to achieve empathy and strengthen the therapeutic relationship

    3. Treating Trauma: A Relational Approach

    The role of trauma on psychopathology is an uncontested clinical fact. Many therapeutic strategies in the field of traumatology today tend to focus on the after-effects of the trauma themselves rather than on the original sources of trauma that fuel and sustain current symptomatology. Traumatized patients tend to have multiple symptomatic profiles including concurrent and co-morbid disorders often associated with PTSD, major depression, anxiety disorders, addictions, and personality disorders. At the root of these pathologies are developmental traumas often incurred in early childhood. Current difficulty in wellness and adjustment that lead to clinical disorders are often related to unresolved developmental traumas that are either ignored or not properly addressed in therapy with these population groups. Whether acute, discrete, or cumulative, developmental traumas must be identified, reprocessed, and worked-through in order to successfully treat patients' current symptomatology.

    Dr. Mills shows how trauma is relationally mediated and lies at the core of patients' current problems. By using a relational approach that can be incorported within any clinician's preferred theoretical framework, he demonstrates how to recognize, examine, validate, and empathically engage developmental trauma. By focuing on the course of treatment (from beginning to end) with several case studies of developmental trauma, he shows how relational stragegies are integral to healing and resolving the affective aftermath of psychic pain.

    You Will Learn:

  • How to conceptualize the nature of developmental trauma
  • To incorporate relational strategies within one's theoretical orientation to treatment
  • To identify how developmental trauma informs personality structure and current symptomatology
  • By observing the course of therapy with several case studies
  • To re-evaluate the nature of mental-illness from the standpoint of relational trauma and how corrective relational experiences are therapeutically ameliorative