Cognitive therapy of dissociative symptoms associated with trauma

Br J Clin Psychol. 1996 Sep;35(3):325-40. doi: 10.1111/j.2044-8260.1996.tb01188.x.


The presentation of dissociative symptoms is not uncommon in clinical settings, particularly when the client has suffered trauma. The phenomenon of dissociation ranges from benign incidents, such as daydreaming, to potentially life-threatening experiences when it precipitates self-harm. Its presentation may be subtle, belying the distress which it can provoke. Cognitive therapists are well equipped to help clients formulate a working conceptualization of the dissociative episode and to develop a range of coping skills to manage and overcome the experience. This paper discusses practical ways in which the cognitive therapist can use standard and schema-focused cognitive therapy to help clients to better deal with the distressing aspects of dissociation.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Autosuggestion
  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / psychology
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Desensitization, Psychologic
  • Dissociative Disorders / therapy*
  • Dissociative Identity Disorder / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imagery, Psychotherapy
  • Male
  • Relaxation Therapy
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / complications
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy