The Therapeutic Relationship is your Most Powerful Tool (and your Biggest Pitfall): Relational Strategies to Treat Challenging Trauma Clients

Robert T. Muller, Ph.D., C.Psych

November 25 & 26, 2019

9:00am – 4:00pm

Saint Paul University, Ottawa
Light refreshments served

Compulsive Self-Endangering Behaviours Trauma Survivors

Overview of Program

Maintaining good therapeutic relationships can be extremely difficult. Trauma clients can struggle to trust you, and many minimize their own traumatic experiences, or reject help altogether. Others tend to rush into therapy, seeking a “quick fix,” despite their long history of interpersonal trauma.

This practical workshop, led by Dr. Robert T. Muller—a leading expert on trauma therapy and globally-acclaimed author of the psychotherapy bestseller: Trauma & the Avoidant Client—is aimed at building our understanding of the psychotherapy relationship with challenging trauma clients. 

Through the lens of attachment theory, using a relational, integrative approach, Dr. Muller follows the ups and downs of the therapy relationship with trauma survivors.  How do we tell when we’ve unknowingly compromised safety in the relationship?  What happens to the relationship when clients or therapists rush into the process, and how can this be addressed?  And how can subtle conflicts in the relationship become useful in treatment?  Dr. Muller points to the different choices therapists make in navigating the relationship.  In trauma therapy, those choices have a strong impact on outcome.

As you already know, recovering from trauma is a complicated process. When people reveal too much, too soon, they may feel worse.  The pacing of therapy is critical.  Here too, the key is in the therapist-client relationship.  Dr. Muller walks us through the relational approaches that help pace the process of opening up –so that people find the experience helpful, not harmful.

Throughout the workshop, theory is complemented by case examples, practical exercises, and segments from Dr. Muller’s own treatment sessions.  This workshop focuses on clinical skills that are directly applicable in our work as therapists.


Robert T. Muller, Ph.D., C.Psych. trained at Harvard, was on faculty at the University of Massachusetts, and is currently at York University in Toronto.  Dr. Muller is a Fellow of the International Society for the Study of Trauma & Dissociation (ISSTD) for his work on trauma treatment. And his psychotherapy bestseller, “Trauma and the Avoidant Client,” has been translated widely, and won the 2011 ISSTD award for the year’s best written work on trauma. As lead investigator on several multi-site programs to treat interpersonal trauma, Dr. Muller has lectured internationally (Australia, UK, Europe, USA), and has been keynote speaker at mental health conferences in New Zealand and Canada.  He founded an online magazine, “The Trauma & Mental Health Report,” that is now visited by over 100,000 readers a year. With over 25 years in the field, he practices in Toronto.


CCPA accreditation for MAGentix's workshops  
CCPA      12 CEC’s   CACCF   12 CEU’s
This seminar qualifies for 12 CECs for OACCPP members. OACCPP does not endorse or approve this training program or activity.   Approved for 11 hours of MDPAC Group CE credits and 1 hours of MDPAC CCI credits if both days attended (automatically calculated when MDPAC member submits Group CE hours).



Register Now to Save Your Seat

We're sorry, but all tickets sales have ended because the event is expired.
  • To be eligible for group rate, all 3 registrations must be registered at the same time, and paid with one cheque or credit card number.
  • Greater discounts for groups of 10 or more. Contact the team at MAGentix directly.
  • For student rate, a valid full-time student ID must be presented.
  • Above includes payment by credit card and cheque. Other payment methods.
  • Certificate of Participation will be given at the end of the workshop.
  • Workshop registration includes a copy of Dr. Muller’s new book: Trauma & the Struggle to Open Up: From Avoidance to Recovery & Growth. The book complements the workshop, providing material for attendees to further their learning.

Learning Objectives

Participants will learn how to: 

  1. Help clients pace the process of opening up
  2. Bring safety to the therapeutic relationship early on
  3. Navigate and use conflicts in the relationship
  4. Recognize their own (therapist) feelings in the treatment (e.g., the wish to rush into trauma work, or the wish to avoid it)
  5. Help clients mourn traumatic losses to bring posttraumatic growth

Who is This Training For?

This seminar is for:

  • Psychologists
  • Psychiatrists
  • Medical Professionals
  • Social Workers
  • Youth Workers
  • Counsellors and Therapists
  • Family Therapists
  • School Guidance Counselors
  • Addiction Counsellors
  • Case Managers
  • Clergy
  • Other Professionals in the Human Service Sector
  • Current students in these related fields


  • November  25 & 26, 2019 | 9:00am-4:00pm
  • Saint-Paul University, 223 Main St., Ottawa, ON, K1S 1C4
  • Parking at the University for $11.00/day or public parking nearby.

Published materials by Robert T. Muller and colleagues


Summary of publications

Books……………………………………………….………………          2
Peer reviewed (refereed) journal articles, published or in press…… 50
Invited papers (articles, book chapters, measures)………………….  9



Muller, R. T.  (2018).  Trauma and the struggle to open up:  From avoidance to recovery and growth.  New York:  W.W. Norton.

Muller, R. T.  (2010).  Trauma and the avoidant client:  Attachment-based strategies for healing.  New York:  W.W. Norton.

 –over 14,000 English language copies distributed to date; multiple printings.

German TranslationMuller, R. T.  (2013).  Wenn patienten keine nahe  zulassen:  Strategien fur eine bindungsbasierte traumatherapie [When patients do not  allow closeness:  Strategies for an attachment-based trauma therapy], translated by Elisabeth Vorspohl.  Stuttgart, Germany:  Klett-Cotta.  ISBN: 978-3608947861.

Italian Translation:  Muller, R. T.  (2014).  Il trauma e il cliente evitante.   Strategie di guarigione basate sull’attaccamento,  translated by Corrado Zaccagnini.  Rome, Italy:  Giovanni Fioriti Editore.  ISBN: 978-88-95930-82-4.

Farsi (Iranian) Translation:  Muller, R. T.  (2015).  آسیب‌های روانی و مراجع اجتنابی, translated by Touraj S. Banab & Reza Babri.  Tehran, Iran:  Sepand Minoo Publishing.  ISBN:  978-600-95777-1-2.


Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles (selected)

(students from my lab listed in italics)

Bambrah, V., Mastorakos, T., Cordeiro, K. M., Thornback, K., & Muller, R. T.  (2018).  Parent-child disagreement on child symptoms throughout trauma therapy:  Correlates and treatment response.  Journal of Family Violence (doi:  10.1007/s10896-017-9948-x).

Keating, L., Muller, R. T., & Classen, C. C.  (2017).  Changes in attachment organization, emotion dysregulation, and interpersonal problems among women in treatment for abuse.  Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, 19, 247-266 (

Zorzella, K.P.M., Rependa, S. L., & Muller, R. T.  (2017).  Therapeutic alliance over the course of child trauma therapy from three different perspectives.  Child Abuse and Neglect, 67,147-156 (doi:  10.1016/j.chiabu.2017.02.032 0145-2134).

Classen, C. C., Muller, R. T., Field, N. P., Clark, C., & Stern, E. M.  (2017).  A naturalistic study of a brief treatment program for survivors of complex trauma.  Journal of Trauma and Dissociation, 18, 720-734 (

Van Monsjou, E., Struthers, C.W., Khoury, C., Guilfoyle, J., Young, R., Hodara, O., & Muller, R. T. (2015).  The Effects of Adult Attachment Style on Post-Transgression Response.  Personal Relationships, 22, 762-780 (doi:  10.1111/pere.12106).

Thornback, K., & Muller, R. T.  (2015).  Relationships among emotion regulation and symptoms during trauma-focused CBT for school-aged children.  Child Abuse and Neglect, 50, 182-192 (doi:  10.1016/j.chiabu.2015.09.011).

Zorzella, K. P. M., Muller, R. T., & Cribbie, R. A.  (2015).  The relationships between therapeutic alliance and internalizing and externalizing symptoms in trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy.  Child Abuse and Neglect, 50, 171-181 (doi:  10.1016/j.chiabu.2015.08.002).

Konanur, S., Muller, R. T., Cinamon, J. S., Thornback, K. & Zorzella, K.P.M.  (2015).  Effectiveness of Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in a Community-Based Program.  Child Abuse and Neglect, 50, 159-170 (doi:  10.1016/j.chiabu.2015.07.013).


Invited Articles, Book Chapters & Measures

(students from my lab listed in italics)

Cordeiro, K., Rependa, S. L., Muller, R. T., & Foroughe, M. F. (2018).  EFFT and trauma: Engaging the parent with a dismissing attachment style.  In M. F. Foroughe (Ed.), Emotion Focused Family Therapy with Children and Caregivers: A Trauma-Informed Approach .  New York:  Routledge/Taylor & Francis.

 Muller, R. T., Padoin, C. V., & Lawford, J.  (2008).  Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy with children and adolescents: The Toronto community-based approach.  In A. V. Cordioli (Ed.), Psicoterapias: Abordagens Atuais  [Psychotherapies: Current Approaches]  (3rd ed.).  Porto Alegre: Artmed.

Day, D. M., & Muller, R. T.  (2007).  The effects of physical restraints on children: Identifying process variables and outcome.  American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry News, 38(5), 224-226.

Muller, R. T., Kraftcheck, E., & McLewin, L. A.   (2004).  Adult attachment and trauma.  In D. R. Catherall (Ed.), Handbook of Stress, Trauma, and the Family.  New York:  Brunner-Routledge.

Diamond, T., Muller, R. T., Rondeau, L. A., & Rich, J. B.  (2001).  The relationships among PTSD symptomatology and cognitive functioning in adult survivors of child maltreatment.  In F. Columbus (Ed.), Advances in Psychological Research (volume 5).  New York: Nova Science.

Muller, R. T.  (2001).  Child Abuse Shame Scale.  Abstracted in Touliatos, J., Perlmutter, B.F., & Holden, G.W. (Eds.), Handbook of Family Measurement Techniques, (volume 2), pp. 287-288.  Sage Publications: Thousand Oaks, CA.

Muller, R. T.  (2001).   Child Abuse Shame Scale.  In Perlmutter, B.F., Touliatos, J., & Holden, G.W. (Eds.), Handbook of Family Measurement Techniques, (volume 3), p. 437.  Sage Publications: Thousand Oaks, CA.


Articles under review or in progress

(students from my lab listed in italics)

Cinamon, J. S., Muller, R. T., Zorzella, K. P. M., Konanur, S., & Thornback, K.  (in progress).  The relationship between parental support, parent emotional reaction, and parenting stress with children’s posttraumatic stress symptoms following Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Zorzella, K. P. M., Muller, R. T. Cribbie, R. A., & Classen, C. C.  (in progress).  The Role of Alexithymia in Trauma Therapy Outcome: Examining Improvements in PTSD, Dissociation, and Interpersonal Problems.