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202 | The Power of the Past and Present: Treating Addicts and Partners Through Family Systems and Trauma Approaches

Addictions, Relapse, and Life Recovery, Thursday 9/14 2:15 – 3:30 PM, Workshop Tracks


Marnie Ferree M.A.; Mike Vaughan



Approved For CE

Licensed Professional Counselors, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Chemical Dependency Counselors, Pastors, Pastoral Counselors, Lay Counselors, Coaches

Approved For CME/CEU




Often both addicts and partners are at a loss about the deeper forces at work in their lives and relationships. Understanding the wounds from negative family of origin experiences and traumas, and identifying their impact, are critical pieces of recovery, healthy living, and a healthy relationship with God. For addicts, this understanding helps connect the dots between earlier experiences and the unhealthy coping method of choice, whether substances or behavioral addictions. For partners of addicts, the impact of prior trauma is often overlooked, while the focus is (understandably) on the pain of betrayal, especially regarding sexual addiction. Almost always, these core wounds have been activated and exacerbated by the addict’s behavior and betrayal, which is a complicating factor for the partner’s healing. This presentation describes family systems theory as foundational for working with addicts and partners and demonstrates how a systems approach combines with constructs like polyvagal theory to deepen healing. The workshop also illustrates some practical, experiential techniques that licensed mental health professionals and ministry leaders can use to allow the people of God to experience more fully the healing of God.

Learning Objectives

1. Describe the three foundations of systems theory that influence trauma and later addictive behavior and apply it to working with addicts and their partners
2. Identify how current trauma treatment approaches like polyvagal theory interweave with family systems and articulate experiential techniques that utilize both
3. Explain how trauma impacts our relationship with God and how trauma treatment positively impacts our faith
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