Alterations in consciousness are common experiences in healthy individuals and patients with a variety of mental disorders. Such states may also be natural reactions to traumatic experiences, and accompanied by dissociative symptoms, when the mind detaches itself from overwhelming feelings and one’s surroundings to survive. Depersonalization (a sense of detachment from one’s mind or body) and derealization (experiencing the external world as dreamlike or unreal) can be experienced with different intensity and in various contexts, for example, during meditation, religious practices or intense sports exhaustion.

Some forms of depersonalization and derealization are chronic, significantly dysfunctional, cause distress, and are regarded as pathological. Yet there are no empirical studies that compare normal and pathological depersonalization / derealization, how they relate to trauma, and how individuals subjectively experience them.

In this project, structured clinical interviews with trauma survivors are conducted, video-recorded and analysed by the research team to explore personal experiences of depersonalisation, derealisation, and dissociation. Such studies are necessary to help clinicians recognise and diagnose dissociation and alterations in consciousness characteristic of trauma-related disorders, subsequently leading to better diagnostics, referral, and treatment.

This project offers you: free-of-charge assessment of dissociative symptoms and diagnostics towards a dissociative disorder, a comprehensive report about your symptoms which you can share with your doctor or therapist, and an opportunity to discuss your problems and recommendations for treatment.

The project is financed by the National Science Centre in Poland, grant number: 2016/22/E/HS6/00306.

Research team:
Igor Pietkiewicz, Ph.D.; Radosław Tomalski, M.D., Ph.D.; Suzette Boon, Ph.D.; Onno van der Hart, Ph.D.; Anna Bańbura, M.Sc.; Szymon Nęcki, M.Sc.; Anna Hełka, Ph.D.

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Trainings in Poland

Transitioning from phase 1 to phase 2 in treatment of dissociative disorders

Katowice, 12th and 13th January 2018

Suzette Boon, PhD

This workshop aims at building up the skills discussed in the phase 1 treatment and takes up the issues connected with moving on to phase 2.


Days 1: Treatment of “Difficult” Patients with a dissociative disorder; continuation of phase 1 treatment

Every therapist has encountered a “difficult patient” who engenders feelings of guilt, rage, shame, humiliation, helplessness, and incompetency, and who seems to resist virtually any efforts toward progress. In the face of massive resistance, the therapist may retreat into destructive enmeshment or distancing with the patient. The “difficult” patient can typically be understood as having extreme problems with several related issues: (1) chronic defenses against perceived relational threat (e.g., criticism, rejection, abandonment, or engulfment and control); (2) chronic defenses against inner experience (e.g., affects, cognitions, physical sensations, wishes, needs); and (3) difficulties in self regulation. On top of these problems there maybe ongoing abuse which makes the therapy more complicated.  Interventions are first directed to the therapist, who must learn to empathically understand the patient’s behavior, and act with reflection rather than with reaction. This reflective stance is a treatment strategy in itself for the patient, and paves the way for further interventions. Strategies for the therapist and patient will be discussed extensively.  On day one I will focus on chronic defenses and “therapy undermining behaviors”, role play will be the most important way of teaching and participants are encouraged to discuss their cases.


Day 2: The Phase II:  the treatment of traumatic memories of patients with a complex dissociative disorder

 In phase II the focus turns to working with memories of traumatic experiences. Effective work in this phase involves remembering, tolerating, processing, and integrating overwhelming past events. In this workshop I will discuss several techniques to integrate traumatic memories. The workshop will start with the presentation of a checklist to evaluate if a patient is ready to go from phase I to phase II.  And if a patient is ready, where do you start? How do you plan and schedule the sessions? Which dissociative parts participate? What is needed to maintain safety during the work. How can patients contain intense feelings if the work becomes too intense? How do we know that a memory is sufficiently integrated? Special focus will be on the “guided synthesis technique” (Boon & van der Hart, 1995; van der Hart, Nijenhuis& Steele, 2006).



The fee for the workshop is 150€, for members of ESTD 100€. In order to participate make the payment using the following account:

SWPS Uniwersytet Humanistycznospoleczny

Raiffeisen Bank Polska S.A., Piekna 20, 00-549 Warszawa, Poland

IBAN: PL20 1750 1019 0000 0000 2125 4223


Please, indicate in the title of your payment “workshop Suzette Boon” together with your name. Also, please send an email to ipietkiewicz@swps.edu.pl with your name, address, telephone number and if you need an invoice – invoicing information (buyer’s name, address and VAT number).



The workshop will take place on Friday 12th of January and Saturday 13th  of January 2018.  The exact hours will be announced beforehand.



Uniwersytet SWPS in Katowice, ulica Techników 9.



The certificates of attendance will be available on the second day of the workshop.   




Agnieszka Widera-Wysoczanska:

Igor Pietkiewicz

Radoslaw Tomalski


EMDR Conference

28–30 June 2019 EMDR Europe conference. Krakow, Poland.