The Therapeutic Application of Self Psychology to the Treatment of Complex Trauma

Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Capstone

Degree Name



Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Lupe-Rebeka Samaniego, Ph.D.

First Committee Member

Claire Purcell, Ph.D.

Second Committee Member

Holly Cappello, Psy.D.


Self Psychology, Complex Trauma


Although psychologists have recently recognized the importance of addressing the issue of complex trauma, they have not yet agreed on the most effective treatment for it. There is general consensus that treatment of complex trauma must target the resulting personality changes utilizing an individualized, integrated approach, with some disagreement about inclusion of the trauma-specific memories. Cognitive behavioral therapy, sensorimotor therapy, and/or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) address many treatment needs of clients with complex trauma. Self psychology is even better-suited for clients with complex trauma because of its focus on rebuilding the client's self, which impacts affect regulation, self esteem, and basic cognitive functions, and its potential to integrate additional necessary interventions based on the modem view that self psychology is an integrative approach. This paper shows how self psychologists can integrate various therapy techniques into their theoretical foundation, under the umbrella of providing good selfobject experiences to the client.


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