Heather MacIntosh, Ph.D., C.Psych. (CPO/OPQ)

Developmental Couple Therapy for Complex Trauma

Heather MacIntoshWebinar postponed

Date to be determined

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Developmental Couple Therapy for Complex Trauma (DCTCT) is a novel approach to couple therapy that was developed out of research examining the impacts of trauma on couple relationships and the challenges that trauma survivors experience within the therapy context. DCTCT considers emotion regulation and mentalizing challenges to be at the core of struggles facing trauma survivors in their relationships and in therapy and these issues are also pivotal in couples where conflict escalates and the risk of intimate partner violence becomes a concern. Traditional approaches to therapy in the context of intimate partner violence require that couples be divided and individually focused treatment such as anger management, be undertaken.

This two-day training will provide participants with comprehensive and practical guidance for integrating DCTCT into their work with traumatized individual survivors or couples. The approach includes an evidence-based framework which emphasizes the importance of containing conflict and helps clients to build emotional regulation and mentalizing skills. The framework is an invaluable asset to all those working with individual survivors or couples dealing with the ravaging impacts of complex trauma, who may not be able to benefit from traditional forms of therapy due to challenges in regulating emotions, mentalizing, and other aspects of the complex trauma response that limit capacity to engage in relationships.

The workshop will guide participants through the four key stages of DCTCT: Psychoeducation, Building Capacity, Dyadic Processing and Consolidation. Each stage has accompanying activities and narratives in which to engage traumatized individuals and couples. The workshop will be helpful for those who help individuals or couples dealing with complex trauma.


  1. Discuss the results of research and practice regarding the impact of childhood trauma on relationships;
  2. Discuss the results of research and practice regarding previous approaches to mitigating the impact of childhood trauma in couples therapy;
  3. Justify the development of the DCTCT model – Developmental Couple Therapy for Complex Trauma;
  4. Provide introductory clinical training, including through role plays and video demonstrations, of DCTCT.


Meet Heather

Dr. Heather B. MacIntosh is a Clinical Psychologist and Associate Professor in the MScA in Couple and Family Therapy programme within the School of Social Work at McGill University. Dr. MacIntosh runs the Trauma and Interpersonal Relationships Laboratory and her research work has focused on gaining better understanding of the impacts of childhood trauma on the development and maintenance of couple relationships in adulthood as well as the impact of trauma on the process and outcome of couple therapy. Childhood trauma survivors often experience high levels of conflict and dissatisfaction in their couple relationships and therapists often struggle to know how to intervene where high levels of emotion dysregulation, dissociation and difficulties with perspective taking can overwhelm the therapeutic process.

Dr. MacIntosh is focusing her current research on the ongoing evaluation of a new model of couple therapy that she developed that targets the specific developmental capacities relevant to healthy interpersonal and conjugal relationships with which childhood trauma survivors often struggle, Developmental Couple Therapy for Complex Trauma.

The overall goal of her research is to improve the odds for couples dealing with the impacts of childhood trauma to have healthy loving relationships and strong, effective, clinical resources and supports that can really help them address the specific issues they face as a result of their early developmental experiences. Heather’s research is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council as well as the Fonds de Recherche du Québec Société et Culture.

Dr. MacIntosh is recipient of the Early Researcher Award from the Traumatic Stress Section of the Canadian Psychological Association, The Early Career Scholar Award from Division 39, Section 8 (Couple and Family) of the American Psychological Association, as well as the H. Noel Fieldhouse Distinguished Teaching Award from the Faculty of Arts, McGill University.


CCPA accreditation for MAGentix's workshops
CCPA     12 CEU’s CACCF   12 CEU’s

Participation in this workshop allows OAMHP members to apply 12 hours (CECs) towards their required continuing education hours. OAMHP does not endorse this training or the training provider.



  • April 28 & 29, 2022 | Webinar postponed. Date to be determined
  • Virtual and In-Person Workshop
  • Saint-Paul University, 223 Main St., Ottawa, ON, K1S 1C4
  • Parking at the University for $11.00/day or public parking nearby