Fraser’s Dissociative Table Technique

Healing emotional pain and dissociation is the first step to healing trauma and PTSD

Origin of Fraser’s Dissociative Table Technique

Fraser’s Dissociative Table Technique is an adjunct technique that James Miklos, Ph.D. uses in his EMDR therapy. This technique was developed by Dr. George A. Fraser who is a consultant psychiatrist with the Canadians Armed Forces Operational Trauma and Stress Support Center in Ottawa.

His developed this framework in 1991 to work specifically with those who suffer with PTSD and developed Dissociative Disorders (DD). Since that time it has been used by numerous clinicians and modified for their application purposes.

The historical road of developing this technique has its origins in ego-state therapies developed by Watkins and Watkins and further developed by Schwartz, Internal family systems therapy. This concept of the ego was first written about by Augustine of Hippo in his masterpiece, Confessions which was written between AD 397 and 400.

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What is an ego-state?

The word ego comes from a Greek work which simply means self. An ego-state can be best understood as that aspect of us that comes into play when a particular role or task needs to be done. In an individual that does not have serious complications with respect to their adult-state can easily shift between various ways of thinking and acting to accommodate daily living. For example, when a woman who is a mother encounters her children she will then spontaneously put on the ego-state of being a mother, in other words she will act, feel and think as a mother. When this same woman goes to work as a bookkeeper she will then put on the ego-state of a bookkeeper/employee in order to perform her task functionally. Then when she interacts with her husband she will put on the ego-state of a wife and thus exhibit the attitude, feelings, thoughts, and behaviours of a wife. So the list of ego-states could go on. This we can do in healthy everyday living.

An ego-state is when an aspect of ourselves influences our daily living self to act and interact with their given environment, tasks, and daily encounters.

How does trauma effect aspects of our selves?

In family systems and ego-state theory there is postulated a pre-trauma conscious self that lives cognitively and consciously aware of the present and living in the present that has been called the Daily Living Self [Kathleen Martin]. Along with that we have a Defensive Self that functions along with the Daily Living Self that has co-consciousness and awareness of present time and is able to respond in a healthy manner to protect itself.

When trauma occurs this all changes, the inner self fragments, it can be understood to some degree as a person who has had a broken heart. The fragmenting of our heart in clinical terms can be understood as the transformation of the Daily Living Self to an Apparently Normal Personality or ANP and the Defensive Self which becomes fragmented becomes an Emotional Part or EP which can then create unhealthy ego-states that are stuck in the past, particularly in the history of the trauma or traumas. The person is in a fractured state where each EP holds aspects of the person’s overall ego or self. When this occurs the way a person functions is less than optimal and develops a form of PTSD along with some form or degree of dissociation whether or not it can be clinically diagnosed.

What is dissociation?

In laymen’s terms it means disconnection. When trauma occurs and there is insufficient ability within the person’s system to process through the traumatic event then a PTSD forms which one or more EP hold. The disconnection can be with some or all of the parts of self, be it the ANP or the EPs. This disconnection prevents access to the traumatic material for reprocessing by the brain.

Dissociation simply stated is the separation of normally related mental processes which results in Emotional Parts and even the Adult self, ANP to function independently of each other to some degree. This prevents integration of the EPs and the ANP back to the normal healthy ego-state model described earlier.

Having a dissociation does not imply that you are clinically classified as dissociative or that you have in any way a multiple personality MPD, or now known as DID, Dissociative Identity Disorder. This process is to help with all levels of disconnectedness so that healing can take place within.

How does this technique work?

Fraser’s Dissociative Table Technique works to heal the dissociation that is preventing the reprocessing of the traumatic material that is keeping a person stuck in their PTSD. This is a safe and gentle process that helps the EPs to begin to reintegrate into the normal healthy Defensive Self and allows the ANP to begin its journey back to the Daily Living Self.

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What does this technique look like in a session?

There are 8 steps to this technique that is modified for effective EMDR therapy.

  1. Introduction and a brief education of the client to understand the inner working of self in relation to life events and trauma. This is to help you to better understand the various aspects of yourself to better identify the inner struggles and conflict you have. You may have said one part of me is so mad and another part of you could be so sad.
  2. To establish whether or not you can visualize and make the necessary therapeutic adjustments to help you move forward with this therapeutic technique.
  3. Using some techniques to establish a state of calm that can be readily accessed as needed.
  4. Develop a meeting place for the various EPs and ANP that is imaginary and that will facilitate safety and calm.
  5. To make sure that your place will not be disruptive in any manner.
  6. Instructions for the ANP or adult self to become present in a safe manner.
  7. Instructions for the EPs or Emotional Parts to come and be present in this meeting place.
  8. Over the course of time the therapist gathers information and aids in direction, comfort and healing so that integration can begin to take place.

How will this technique help me?

This is a safe and effective technique that will help you to work with aspects of yourself that have been traumatized and is used throughout the course of treatment. This process will help you to heal from the distress of feeling bad feelings. This process will heal any dissociations that are present within you.

What is the next step?

When our lives are not functioning well in our relationships, marriage, parenting, daily functioning, work place, addictions, poor self-care, and emotional distresses and dysfunctions then we need to take action to help us get better. The action you need to take is to make a call or book an appointment to begin your healing process.

At New Hope Counselling Centre we have trained therapists, psychotherapists, and counsellors to help you to heal and move forward in your life. Don’t waste your life any longer, regain your life! We are here for you!  There is hope and there is help for you!

 

Sources:

Fraser, G.A., Fraser’s “Dissociative Table Technique” Revisited, Revised: A Strategy for Working with Ego States in Dissociative Disorders and Ego-State Therapy, http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1300/J229v04n04_02

Fraser, G.A. (1991). The dissociative table technique: A strategy for working with ego states in dissociative disorders and ego-state therapy. DISSOCIATION, 4, 205-213.

Kathleen M. Martin , CLINICAL Q&A: How to Use Fraser’s Dissociative Table Technique to Access and Work With Emotional Parts of the Personality, Rochester, NY http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/springer/emdr/2012/00000006/00000004/art00005?crawler=true

Shirley Jean Schmidt, MA, LPC EMDRIA-Approved Consultant, Internal Conference Room Ego-State Therapy and the Resolution of Double Binds: Preparing clients for EMDR trauma processing, https://www.dnmsinstitute.com/doc/db-prep.pdf

Schwartz, R.C. (1995). Internal family systems therapy. New York: Guilford.

Watkins, J.G. and H.H. Watkins (1997). Ego states: Theory and therapy. New York: Norton.

 

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