Healing Tasks : Psychotherapy with Adult Survivors of Childhood Abuse book cover
1st Edition

Healing Tasks
Psychotherapy with Adult Survivors of Childhood Abuse

ISBN 9780881634020
Published March 1, 2003 by Gestalt Press
334 Pages

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Book Description

This groundbreaking book presents a new model for working with survivors of abuse and other trauma.  The Healing Tasks Model, based on developmental stages of healing with specific tasks for each stage, offers the clinician new support for threading through the sometimes overwhelming complexities of the survivor's experience.  At the same time, Kepner's model helps to avoid some of the common pitfalls and risks of work in this most challenging of clinical areas, such as pushing clients to express and remember before they have developed the capacity to manage such intensity, or encouraging confrontation and interpersonal interactions that the survivor doesn't yet have the developmental underpinnings to support.

Using the Healing Tasks Model the clinician will find techniques for helping clients develop emotional and systemic supports, manage feelings, and set appropriate boundaries.  Readers will also find a guide to dealing with the difficult and troubling issues of memory: how to approach abuse memories, when and how to take action based on abuse memories, when to defer action pending the development of more supports and capacities for the survivor, and then how to develop those essential supports and capacities.

Written for psychotherapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, counselors, pastoral counselors, and adult survivors of childhood abuse, Healing Tasks provides a therapeutic model that can be used to help abuse survivors develop the emotional skilles to lead richer and more fulfilling lives.

Table of Contents

Healing Tasks for Survivors of Abuse. Developing Support. Developing Self Functions. Undoing, Redoing, and Mourning. Reconsolidation. Assessing the Healing Process. Memoried and Remembering. Enactment and Recontextualization. The Body Process in Healing.

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James I. Kepner, Ph.D., is a psychologist in private practice in Cleveland, Ohio. where he is also on the professional staff of the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland.  He is author of Body Process: Working with the Body in Psychotherapy, a selection of the Behavioral Sciences Book Club.


"I am very enthusiastic about this book, its treatment orientation, and its emphasis on healing tasks undertaken in a graduated sequence.  It makes a substantial contribution to the clinical strategies currently available for the treatment of adult survivors of childhood abuse, and as such, is a resource for therapists struggling with treatment issues generated by the repressed memory/delayed memory controversy."

- Christine A. Courtois, Ph.D., Director of Clinical Training, Psychiatric Institute of Washington

"Therapists, adult survivors, counselors, ministers, and all concerned with the long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse should read this book.  A fresh new approach that integrates recent developments in the field of post-traumatic stress disorder."

- John P. Wilson. Ph.D., Director, Center for Stress and Trauma, Cleveland

"What a fine work this is!  Kepner, a virtuoso Gestalt therapist, provides a powerful, practical framework for survivors of abuse and their therapists that is thorough, thoughtful, clear, comprehensive, humane, and impeccably intelligent.  A must for any clinician's library, and empowering reading for survivors in need of a solid, intellectual grasp on their experience."

- Belleruth Naparstek, LISW, author, Staying Well with Guided Imagery

"Kepner provides a compassionate, knowledgeable, and careful analysis of how to take a Gestalt approach when working with survivors of child sexual abuse.  I highly recommend this book."

- Catherine Classen, Ph.D., Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford